Wondering Out Loud

Caveat Emptor, if you’re using social media

A friend of a friend asked me if I knew anything about a particular social media organization. Now, considering one cannot swing a dead marketer without hitting an association, or society, or foundation, or professional organization that brings social media practitioners together I didn’t consider it unusual that I would not have heard of the one in question.

So, with name in hand I set off for the Google to do a little research. What I found was a website, LinkedIn and Facebook pages, and YouTube video. Among other items – not generated by the organization – were blog posts (some +, some -), articles, and comments. All in all, I was able to find a fair amount of information, but not enough to help me draw any conclusions about the organization’s credibility, which is why I’m not revealing the name of the group). At one point, I thought I had struck on a blog post asserting the organization’s leader is an inept boob. Problem is, the writer offered no evidence to prove his contention.

In the world of Web 2.0, where anybody with a computer and internet access can publish/distribute whatever they wish, there is an additional burden on the consumer to do their due diligence. We’ve all heard stories of erroneous facts making their way onto Wikipedia pages, but that site is just a small part of the wwww and bad fact, half-truths, and outright lies are more likely to show up on personal blogs.

So let me distill what I learned. When doing internet research, it’s important to take everything you read, hear, or see with a really big grain of salt. After you’ve completed your research, and before you draw any conclusions, discuss it with someone you know and trust – and I’m not talking about someone you only know from Twitter. Finally, as with anything, unless you are certain of the sellers credibility and veracity, “Caveat Emptor” rules the day.

April 5, 2010 Posted by | Communications, Marketing, Social Media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Information isn’t power anymore

Leigh Anne Reynolds of The B2B Lead Blog posted yesterday about tearing down the gates in front of her marketing content and watching the clickthroughs rise. David Meerman Scott has been advocating the practice for a long time, but many of us – marketers – have been slow to adopt it because it goes against conventional wisdom and, frankly, everything we’ve ever learned about lead generation.

It wasn’t very long ago that visitors to websites were happy to provide contact information in exchange for a whitepaper, or a fact sheet, or a brochure. They wanted information about your products and services and where better to go then the company website? But that was when information was power and that time is long gone.

Before moveable type made it possible to print books in large quantities, education was for the elites. All that changed when books became available to the lower classes. Similarly,before the explosion of the Internet, you owned your collateral and were free to distribute it to whomever you wished. But the Web has become a supercharged information distribution system and much, if not most of the information you once owned is now accessible to anyone who knows how to use a search engine.

Information isn’t power if everyone has the information.

There is another element to this and that is the two-sided coin of value. Side one is the value you place on your content. Side two is the value your customers and prospects place on your content. Would you be surprised to find out the two values rarely match?

Let’s face it, we are all proud of the work we do. And because is it we who spend the hours creating the whitepapers, podcasts, videos, brochures, etc, it’s not unusual that we would be less than objective when deciding whether the material should be gated. Unfortunately, we are not the final arbiters. That role goes to the marketplace, and when the marketplace has dozens of information resource to choose from the value of the materials decreases to almost nil.

Here’s the ugly truth: the internet has rendered our marketing materials powerless and valueless.

Here’s the new challenge: make sure the your targets are going to your website to view your content and give those targets a new reason to give you their contact information.

Difficult? Yes.

Impossible? No.

Critical? Absolutely.

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Communications, Marketing, Social Media | , , , , | Leave a comment

Rupert Murdoch says “Pay up”

I tweeted about this earlier today and I think it deserves a blog post.

Rupert Murdoch – media mogul to the extreme – announced a plan to charge for all on line content. I asked in my tweet is he gutsy or nutsy. The pay for play train of web-based news has long left the station and Murdoch plans to hit the breaks and throw it in reverse. The man hasn’t gotten where he is by not taking risks, but this is going way out on a limb.

Imagine how different things would be if traditional media had embraced the Internet from the outset. They could have charged for content from the start, but their late entry – out of arrogance, ignorance, or some combination of the two – rendered paid subscriptions all but impossible. The Wall Street Journal is an obvious exception, but it is also a dramatically different publication. And so here we are with News Corppreparing to remake the model by adding a field for your credit card at the entry gate to the rest of its on line publications.

How this will play out is not known, but here are a few possibilities:

1. Ka-Boom.Murdoch’s plan blows up in his face with nobody – but family and friends – paying the bucks to see his content. It probably won’t take long for a complete failure to become apparent. When the gates go up and registrations don’t materialize he will see the folly in his plan and abandon it.

2.Cha-Ching. Murdoch becomes a multi-multi-billionaire when paying customers appear in huge numbers and, because of this success, he is able to raise the ad rates.

3. So-So. There is money coming in, but some sites are performing better than others so Murdoch offers bundles, twofers and other promotions to keep his plan alive.

4. Bandwagon. Like an airline raising and lowering rates, it doesn’t take long for the competition to follow suit. I just might happen that other news outlets join Murdoch and begin charging for their content. It would take a coordinated effort to make it fly, but think about the pressure it would put on consumers when their access to free news and information goes away.

At this early stage – without knowing what Murdoch’s model looks like – my money is on So-So. If he really wants to build a paid subscription base, Murdoch will have to go beyond the news and offer value added content that people are willing to pay for. Weekly live chats with news makers and anchors might be one that people are willing to pay for.

Whatever the outcome, Murdoch is forcing the hand of both the industry and the market and the result will likely set the model for web-based delivery of news and information for the foreseeable future.

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Journalism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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