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Archive for: October, 2007

If you live anywhere near Athens, Georgia and you’re into social media you should be attending the CONNECT social media and PR conference on October 19-20.

Organized by UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the CONNECT conference will feature some great speakers alongside Converseon’s Constantin Basturea and yours truly. Constantin will feature on a panel on ‘what professionals/educators should know’ about social media, while I will be presenting a case study on the group blog Forward that I’ve been involved with since its inception. In addition we will also run some breakout sessions on Second Life, podcasting and the social media news release.
Some good friends of Converseon are also attending with Kevin Dugan delivering the keynote address and Josh Hallet joining Constantin’s panel. The full agenda is here while during the conference you’ll be able to keep up with all that is happening through the conference blog, Twitter feed and Flickr photos.

UGA Connect Conference

Connect Public Relations and Social Media Conference


Constantin Basturea, Converseon

Paull Young, Converseon

Kevin Dugan, FRCH Design Worldwide

Josh Hallet, Voce

Katie Paine, KD Paine and Partners

Jay Berndhardt, Centers for Disease Control

Many more…

Friday October 19 – Saturday October 20

Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication

University of Georgia, Athens

Categories: Converseon News

The Unbiased Opinion is Trusted Around The Globe

eMarketer reports that more than three-quarters of consumers surveyed worldwide find that consumer opinions are the most effective form of advertising, according to a Nielsen study.

The most trusted source for consumers is the advice of their fellow consumers

MySpace Platform to Launch Next Week

TechCrunch has the story that MySpace is planning to mimic Facebook by opening up their platform to outside developers. On top of rumours that Google is aiming to ‘out-Facebook’ Facebook by making themselves ‘100% open’.

Some of the smartest brands around are opening themselves up to passionate users – is this on the radar of your C-suite?

YouTube to Unleash Adsense Video Syndication

According to early reports from the Associated Press and Variety, Google is set to make a major announcement tomorrow concerning YouTube integration with AdSense. Selected YouTube videos will be available to AdSense publishers and will appear wrapped in banner ads.


Virtual World Interoperability

A group of 23 companies and institutions has set out to search for ways to make content and identity transferable between virtual worlds.

Categories: Search, SEO, SEM

October 16-17 marks Danny Sullivan‘s SMX Social Media Conference in New York. Danny, as you probably know, used to chair SES and is one of the most respected minds in the business. He’s done amazing work in terms of raising the education of the industry and organizing conferences that deliver top level content. Having spoken as SES several times, i can speak firsthand about his attention to content quality and detail. I’m excited to see SMX grow and evolve.

I’ll be speaking about the role of the marketer in Social Media Marketing. It’s an issue near and dear to our hearts. We caution brands that they need to culturally sophisticated and respectful approach to online communities. Each community has its own norms and values, and respecting and participating in those environments appropriately is critical for acceptance. After all, many of these environments were created by consumers for other consumers. Brands haven’t necessarily been invited. The concept of participation without the expectation of immediate ROI (at least in the traditional sense) may be new territory for many marketers. Altruism must become a core part of social media programs. The topic:

Evangelist – The Marketer’s Role in SMM
Want to be really successful in social media marketing? You need to be an evangelist and activity participate in communities, forums and blogging. Leave this session knowing how to evolve from community observer to community participant and influencer.

The following week i’ll be attending the O’Reilly Web 2.0 Summit (in between client meetings) before returning back to the East coast for a panel entitled “PR and Social Media: What Every Practitioner Needs to Know” at the PRSA International Conference in Philly (October 20-23). If our paths are crossing and you care to connect, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Categories: Converseon News

Philip Blumberg - CEO Blumberg Capital PartnersThis post highlights some work Converseon has undertaken for American Ventures.

It can be difficult to involve C Level executives in social media, they’re time poor, they are still learning about the changes that are occurring and often they are uneasy about the uncontrolled nature of the blogosphere. At the same time the valuable knowledge and insight these individuals can share can really benefit their relevant niche community. While we look forward to the day when it is the norm for organizations to climb aboard the Cluetrain, at this early stage it is often best to help CEO’s dip their toes in the water as they become educated in the unique nature of social media.

CEOs blogging and podcasting are not new but it is more difficult to involve a CEO in social media in industries that might seem a bit atypical, like commercial real estate. In this case, we worked with Philip Blumberg, the CEO of Blumberg Capital Partners and American Ventures to help him launch the Philip Blumberg Five podcast expounding on the impact of current real estate challenges on commercial real estate development and other topics. The recording of the podcast was also filmed to share the information via YouTube to make the most of his contribution and help spread the information to interested parties.

This early effort with socially media provide an extension of his blog and hopefully the beginning of a deeper involvement with social media in future.

The following case study is a summary of the panel Rob Key shared with Quixtar’s Robin Luymes at the Corporate Reputation and Communication Conference organized by The Conference Board (New York, September 26, 2007).

The client

Quixtar logoOne of our clients is Quixtar, which has been recognized as the #1 online retailer in the Health & Beauty category in Internet Retailer’s “Top 500 Guide” that ranks America’s largest retail websites, with $136 billion in sales in 2006. The company ‘offers a business opportunity that allows people to have a business of their own based on retailing products and sharing the opportunity with others who will do the same‘ and provides a compensation plan, products, merchandising materials, training and education to hundreds of thousands of Independent Business Owners (IBOs).

Quixtar is the sister company of Amway, and its official representative in US and Canada.

The challenge

Converseon was contracted to work with Quixtar when its online reputation was highly negative. Critics were using third party websites to post complaints that were receiving no answer from the company. Also, critics were accusing Quixtar of using ‘black hat’ SEO techniques in order to suppress criticism.

First step: Conversation Mining

We started by undertaking a comprehensive overview of the CGM conversational landscape, in order to understand the main topics and issues associated with the brand, what is the associated polarity, who are the most influential and the most vocal critics, and how their contributions are impacting the search engines result pages — among other issues.

Developing and implementing a social media strategy

Based on the analysis of data gathered through Conversation Mining, and on our readiness assessment of Quixtar’s internal culture, we developed a strategy for enabling the company to participate in the online conversation by engaging in civil discourse with its critics and advocates, in a direct and transparent manner.

The strategy implementation included:

  • Development of a blog portal
  • Social Media workshops for key senior executives
  • Identifying and training employees on blogging 101, ethics and best practices, writing for web
  • Development of blog themes
  • Adoption of WOMMA Code of Ethics
  • Addressing legal issues, establishing processes and protocols
  • Optimization of content and infrastructure for search engines
  • Ongoing daily counseling, training and optimization.

Opportunity Zone logoOn December 1st 2006, Quixtar launched Opportunity Zone – a “place to talk and learn about the Quixtar business opportunity and the people, products, and plan that support it“- with Inside Quixtar and The Real Quixtar Blog, two blogs written by top communications managers. Ada-tudes, a blog written by top executives, and One By One, a blog about Quixtar’s philanthropic and community service efforts, were added in January 2007. Since then other 6 blogs have been launched – on topics going from shopping and selling to fashion and beauty, food and cooking, stories from IBOs, information technology, and sponsored events.

Results (as of end of August, 2007):

  • The volume of conversation about Quixtar has increased 41%
  • The volume of Quixtar-generated CGM content has increased 5 times
  • The volume of CGM content authored by major detractors has decreased by half
  • The positive sentiment in CGM content has increased 150%
  • The negative sentiment has dropped 39%
  • The depth of the conversation has increased by 83%

Beyond the cold numbers, the Opportunity Zone has become the place where Quixtar is talking, through employees and top executives, with its stakeholders, on a whole array of issues, good and bad, concerning its business. The process of opening the communications channels is not necessarily a simple one — but both critics and advocates seem to think it’s well worth the effort:

Kemi T, Quixtar Inside Out

Finally (okay, this time it’s for real), I want to say that I am really impressed by the Opportunity Zone. It’s great that the corp has opened this avenue of two-way communication. Sure, I don’t agree with every single thing that’s there (and what does that matter anyway?), and some are impatient what they perceive as slow (or nonexistent) progress, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. I’m liking what I see, and I hope I’m not disappointed.

Robin Luymes, The Real Quixtar Blog:

SO, with Opportunity Zone, we’re getting a little naked. Are we stripped bare yet? Hardly. After all, we’re talking about 50 years of organizational culture that needs to be shifted. But, I will say this, within the walls of Quixtar and even down the street at Alticor, people are noticing the Opportunity Zone and I think there’s a genuine interest in getting nekkid. Some will still be concerned about whether we reveal too much or that we will get into legal trouble or that we will look bad. Well, I don’t worry too much about looking bad, because we already haven’t looked that great to a lot of people out there. I think people understand there are certain legal things we can’t discuss because they’re live issues, but we should talk freely about the issues we can.

So, get naked! Out yourself before you’re outed. If people find out stuff about you or your business from someone else, they’ll assume you were holding out on them. Our business IS an incredible opportunity for others and DOES offer incredible products that can make a real difference in people’s lives. There’s nothing to hide about that!

The third Friday Link List touches on search, passionate consumers, social networks and music online.

‘Passionista’ Consumers Help Brands Harness Digital Media

For every one minute that a typical internet user spends online with content associated with a passionista’s passion, Passionistas spend six minutes with that content.

Passionistas will visit a website related to their passion three times more than the typical user.

Passionistas search online for information about their passion 184 percent more than typical users and conduct more than 100 related searches having to do with their passion per year.

From “To Do” to “Done” in One Search and Yahoo Makes the Assist, Web 2.0-ifies Results

Yahoo announce ‘Search Assist’ to integrate audio, video, photos, shortcuts, consumer reviews, and local information directly into the search results with a special emphasis on social media properties. The rise of social search is only going to expand the power of social media.


In Facebook, Investing in a Theory

This NY Times article looks at the flood of startups trying to capitalize on Facebook opening up its API. It’s also becoming de riguer for marketers to succumb to the lure of generating a Facebook App no matter what the situation. Are Facebook Apps the future? Or will they be seen as the moment when the site jumped the shark?

Radiohead’s bid to Revive Music Industry: Pay what you like to download albums

Hopefully for Radiohead the ‘passionistas’ referenced above have deep pockets to match their time investment.

Smaller Retailers Reliance on Search Engines

Smaller niche merchants in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide are more dependent on search engines to drive traffic and sales than their larger competitors, according to new data from web measurement company Hitwise Inc.


Social Networking Helps Drive Server Sales

Even though virtualization can make efficient use of servers, social-networking Web sites demand a lot of storage space.

Categories: Uncategorized

I had the pleasure of participating in the OMMA panel last Monday adeptly moderated by Max Kalehoff with David Dunn of Edelman and Keith O’Brien providing some solid insight. MediaPost provided full coverage of the session. The consensus was, i believe, that in this world of subversive content creation and virality, brands are not quite ready to defend their brand through new and emerging tools.

Of course, I’ve always felt the best defense is a good offense, as indeed if we don’t define ourselves, others will happily define us. With a standing room crowd, the topic is clearly on the minds of many. I predicted that by next year, if the session is done again, that there will be more “directors of social media” in attendance as brands continue to create these internal positions to transcend the traditional marketing siloes that inhibit effective brand defense. We’ll see if the prognostication is accurate over time.