— blending the mix

September, 2009 Monthly archive

Yesterday, Seth Godin announced the launch of Squidoo’s latest venture “Brands in Public” – a way for brands to quickly, cheaply and easily see what is being said in the majority of the social web. E-consultancy make a good summary of it.

bmw bip

Squidoo decide which brand’s conversation they are going to “hijack” and create a page which pulls in mentions of that brand as well as provide various on-page means for the public to respond to polls and questions about specific aspects of that brand.

For only $400, brands can then buy that page off Squidoo to grant them ownership of it and ensure that they can respond and better manage the content on that page (and, one assumes, customise, the on-page questions etc.)

Good? Hmm. Hardly.

The premise of the tools is that many brands who may be monitoring their reputation are not publicly handling the impact of the monitoring. I think that’s fair enough. Many brands are taking small, manageable steps into social media (understandably) and may not yet be ready to embark on a full-scale strategy, yet almost every single brand they have created a page for is a major multinational/multi-million £/$ company who already has at the very least one active social channel as part of their engagement strategy.

As a brand already in this space, you already know WHERE the conversation is taking place, you already know what is being said, and there is a good chance you know who the people are saying it and the sentiment of the comments being said. Why on earth would you need a BiP Page?

Which begs the question to whom IS the service aimed?

The good old Snake Oil salesman will walk into a client meeting to talk social media and inevitably pulls out a load of negative comments about that client’s brand and say “we can manage this for you…blah, blah, blah…” and strike fear into the client to make them think they need to do something about it and quick. The snake oil comes out and the client ends up buying all sorts of services they neither understand or even understand if they need.

One might argue that as we move forward with the social web, that it will become brand’s responsibility to aggregate conversation about them, but NOT an organisation who will benefit commercially from it.

Brands in Public is just a public version of this and it’s not even that good. You could import a load of RSS feeds into Friendfeed and achieve the same thing. And who are Squidoo to determine what poll topics to put into a page?

Seth Godin hit on a great idea with Squidoo and few would question his ability to apply sound logic and common sense to your marketing, but I am genuinely surprised he is putting his name to this.

Sure, there is *some” sense to this but it is otherwise just a cheap stunt with little value to anyone other than Squidoo.


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A funny thing happened to me the other day, no, honestly it did…and it really got me thinking about other ways that we might shape/influence groundswell about our clients and client’s products and services. It’s a bit of a brain dump and perhaps with more considered thought it may be an utter waste of your time, but if it makes you think a bit about how you do your job then it has served its purpose, even if you don’t agree!

So, the background…Mrs F has been fortunate enough to be trialling some Skechers Shape Ups thanks to Sylvie at fuelmyblog. They are the shoes (which look a little odd to be fair) which kind of get you fit whenever you wear them because of the way they make you change your posture. They are a little girly, but the geeky stuff as to how they work and why is fascinating and Mrs F loves ‘em.

Anyway, I have been so impressed with the shoes, quality etc. that I ended up buying not only a different pair of shoes for me, but also my son – rendering me £100-odd worse off. Admittedly, there’s a somewhat dubious association with my normal topics of writing (and for that I apologise for anybody who is sensitive to this), but it raises questions about how we might talk about influencing the connectors in a network rather than purely the influencers.

Would a marketer be happy that as a family we have been “Skechered” or would they prefer to have shifted 3 pairs of the specific new shoe they have launched.

If social media is about people, why doesn’t Outreach get more personal?

Outreach activity typically focuses on trying to engage a group of influential individuals to write positively about our clients – these people tend to express an opinion about a topic or product which is pertinent to them and their audience.

But if we are trying to get to know this person, understand the content they publish, why wouldn’t we also want to know more about them?

Neither I or Mrs F were in the market for the Shape Ups but as a result of the trial, we have spent over £100 on Skechers products.

The obvious weakness of this thinking is that it makes totally perfect sense only to send stories to publishers (of whatever size) that are relevant to them and their audience. Why should this approach change?

On the other hand though, that influential blogger still eats, wears clothes, drives a car etc., so why wouldn’t we consider (if we do really care enough about developing a lasting, fruitful relationship with that person) how we may also extend “off-topic” products to that blogger. If we are keen to develop a good relationship with them, then surely we would be able to tell them that we simply appreciate their feedback in whatever format it comes.

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