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If you haven’t heard the news, Apple just announced the iPad – a tablet device to really complement the iPhone and laptop/desktop. This post is not an analysis of the features/functionality, but rather my thoughts on how we as marketers can learn from their marketing.  But, to see a ton of posts on this go to Alltop, or see the full keynote here.

I was following as much of this as I could on where they had more than 100,000 following their live audio (and sometimes video) feed. The truly remarkable part of this annoucement was the viral nature of this. No press release was put out, but rather rumors emerged on the Web all the way from early 2009 on what this product would look like and have for feature/functionality. There was HYPE!

The announcement was not mind blowing. Some were dissapointed by lack of features such as not having a camera, mic, and multi-tasking, but all of those that I talked to said they would still buy it. Apple did an incredible job by embracing bloggers. They gave press passes to bloggers, which in turn they knew would “live blog” about this – I was also following 5 or so live blogs to see who could get up coverage faster. Engadget and Gizmodo actually went down a few times due to the amount of people viewing their site. And twitter, well that was a lost cause with more than 1,000 posts every few seconds.

The lesson for us all – success does not lie only in the press release. By embracing the Web and inviting bloggers to your events can turn into a huge Web event and free promotion of your product. In doing so, you find the true evangelists that will hype the product, even if there is a bit of disappointment in the final product.

Now I know we all do not have the luxury of being an Apple, but we still can take some of the success of this announcement into our practices when announcing products. Anything in the tech space can be ground breaking, and hype can be built on the Web around it –  the key is finding true evangelists on the Web to talk about it.


I’ve been putting off a new post for a while now and was inspired by this post from Jeremiah Owyang on “Community Manager Appreciation Day”. Within the organization where I am employed the community manager role has evolved as an essential role with our launch in 2009 of an external community for clients. Even more, I read about it every day thru Twitter, Friendfeed, articles from major publications and the blogs of those that have evangelized and basically created this space we call social media.

At the end of 2009 I carefully aggregated perceptions and predictions on what would happen in digital/social space in 2010. Social network aggregation and growth, video, and mobile were the key trends that I found. Although I do agree, I’ll put my bets on community building online (via paid community platforms).

Community building can be looked at a few ways. There are external communities that are housed on networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, but I see a big play in the organizationally created community. This would be something on a community platform such as Jive, KickApps, Telligent, and Awareness (to name a few). These types of communities can be structured to meet every organizational goal, which is something not easy to do on a “free” social network. They can be used internally and/or externally.

Home-grown communities can be driven from key initiatives in the organization through the collaborative nature of these platforms. If it be to drive sales, deliver thought leadership, customer support, consulting, or just giving a platform for customers to talk to one another, these platforms will be able to support it. Even better, you will have all of the activity on one dashboard, tailor promotions around one community (rather than multiple i.e. facebook, linkedin, etc.), and more importantly, moderate [and in a way] control the message – at least this is the tactic you can take to get executive buy-in.

When making this move it is essential for organizations to designate a community manager to be the “go to person” in building out  more communities within the organization – did I say that these platforms are very scalable! In talking to colleagues from various industries, I am seeing the creation of one community spark ideas and interest from many business units and groups within the organization that may have shyed away from the original idea of talking to customers online. And a community manager can facilitate all of this giving best practices and leveraging one platform across the organization.

The role is real and essential to build the proper roadmap and strategy for the entire online community involvement of the organization. I put my bets on seeing more and more community manger roles evolve for both internal and external roles. What are your thoughts?

My last post was about terrible customer service I experienced at Golf Galaxy, where I was a very loyal and frequent customer. I gave it two weeks to see if I would get any type of contact from Golf Galaxy, but did not get anything. What I did get out of it was the satisfaction of finding out that this has happened to many other people. Many of it through the Web (comments on FB, email, etc.) and also through interaction with friends and family. One of my biggest accomplishments out of this was having one of my friends (who buys new clubs every year) react by saying, “Wow. I have had decent experiences there but nothing great. Looks like I won’t be going back now….ever.”

But through this experience there are some key takeaways that we can all take when it comes to your brand being exposed negatively on the Web. And let me get this straight, my experience was not like many recent ones that were just huge (Dominos, Motrin), mine was very small in Web proportions with having just over 400 people view my post, 4 RT on Twitter, and 12 comments (FB and email). But here is the deal, this is thousands of people being exposed to this experience. Not all will change their minds and stop shopping there, but a few will.

The biggest thing that brands are having issues with on the social Web is listening. Obvsiously noboby was listening on the Web for Golf Galaxy two weeks ago when this post came out. If they were listening they could have joined the conversation by commenting on the blog, sending me something on twitter or facebook, or direct messaging me via twitter or email. If they would have done so acknowledging the situation and apologizing I would have wrote a post about how good they were at listening. And even better maybe would have given Golf Galaxy another chance in the future. Instead, they have lost a customer (hopefully hundreds!) for life.

So what should they do to prevent this in the future. Just a few thoughts:

  • Start a twitter account and listen. Search golf galaxy every day to see what people are saying. Also use this account to put out sales or coupons (much like the emails that they send).
  • Start searching the Web for blogs that talk about them and join the conversation.
  • Start being social on their own. Align social tools with marketing objectives.

Good luck.

Are you concerned about your job? Or do you want something even better? There is one thing that you can do to make yourself ready for a change – build your online network.

In times like these, it is essential to build your network online. Start making virtual friends with those in your field all over the world. Here is a list of some necessary steps to take online.

  • Go to Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Bebo, etc. and build your network of friends
  • Go to these social networks and join groups that surround your profession and PARTICIPATE
  • Participation is key. Be active and be well known and thoughtful
  • Join FreindFeed and subscribe to top professionals in your area (and me if you want!)
  • Join Twitter and follow top thought leaders and professionals in your area (@samsova)
  • Find top bloggers in your area and put them into an aggregator (like and learn
  • search for free or cheap events in your city

The biggest thing to take out of this is to build YOU online. Understand how people follow one another and how to be followed so that you are well know. Start a blog, contribute to a blog (comment). Be thoughtful. Just participate.

Hopefully taking some of these actions will help you understand more what is going on in your profession and will open up opportunities in these tough times.

With all of the hype in the last few years, I think it is essential to make sure that you are all on the same page with the technologies that are available. So….let’s assume that they somewhat get it – or atleast your co-workers know that you can listen to podcasts on more than just an iPod. What is next? Time to build a plan.

The plan is essential to explain what you will be doing with social media in the mix of things at the workplace. The first part, and focus of this post, is to determine the target audience.

Determining the target audience is key in building this plan. Are you targeting your co-workers (internal) or are you going after clients, prospects, analysts, etc. (external). This can be determined from key initiatives that you may have heard about in meetings or corporate comms. One that I heard a ton of when talking to key decision makers was that we needed to do a better job at effectively educating “our own” on a consistent basis. Another thing that I have heard is that we need to hear more of what our clients want (be careful with this one). From the research that I have read I would recommend starting internal to get some more buy in from the skeptics. Integrate current methods with some of these new Web 2.0 tools.

A BIG PART of this step is once determining if you are going to target an internal or external audience, to look at that group’s current online usage and participation. If you have a budget, you can hire agencies to actually figure this out for you….but most of us will not have budget for this and will have to do it on our own.

If you don’t have budget for true primary research on your specific target audience, take a look around you. Think of the median age of your workforce – this will determine eventually what types of tools to implement.

If your workforce is around the Boomer era, as a whole they are most likely not creating videos and putting them on YouTube, or writing their own blogs. They are not on Facebook actively commenting on photos and status updates. They are probably reading news and blogs online and watching videos (collectors of information) or rating and commenting on products and blog posts.

If you workforce is Gen Y and Gen X, as a whole they are most likely creating videos and blogs, on social networks on a daily or weekly basis. They as a whole are more active, and are more likely to participate by uploading video and writing blog posts – commenting and joining the conversation on a larger scale.

When looking at your target audience, just look around you. This will help you in later steps in the planning process to determine the best tools to implement to get your social media initiative revved up.

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