Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Don’t Look Any Further. Social Media = CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

May 12, 2008

I originally meant for this post to show some excerpts from Pat’s blog today, titled “The Holy Trinity Of Blogging“, until I realised she has it so spot on and so easily understood that there really is little else I could add by posting about it. (That said, do check out the link, relevant to individuals and companies alike.)

But as I sat down to start writing tonight, I realised there’s a bigger question here: Why, out of the many, many links sent to me and blog posts that I read a day, did I want to particularly highlight Pat’s? Someone who I have never talked to online or in person? Of course because it’s relevant and well-written, but there’s something else.

It started with a tweet:

This is the second direct message she sent me, the first was even more targeted, saying something like “for the social media junkie” followed by the URL.

Let’s go back to CRM, according to Wikipedia, it

helps companies understand, as well as anticipate, the needs of current and potential customers.

Isn’t that exactly what happened here? Unlike the mass tweets about a “new blog post” (which I don’t mind at all), this really makes me sit up and take notice, because I know it’s a careful, considered move to bring the level of interaction one step closer (from general tweets to a direct message). And the reason why that step would be taken is because she knows that that post would be particularly relevant to me.

“So what” you say? Well, what if you could do that for your customers? Companies are obsessed about CRM, about data, interactions, trends and the like. And here they are in front of you. What if you knew Person A particularly likes a biscuit flavour that you happen to be bringing in? A personal email with an invite to be the first to taste it? Or an ad in the newspaper in hopes the general population will pick up on it and drop by?

It’s a lot of work, no doubt about it. But hey, people pay money for CRM software and hotels notice how guests shift their furniture so that they can do it for them for future visits. Is this really too much? Especially in Singapore?

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Report: The Open Room Launches!

April 28, 2008

The Open Room was held today at Ogilvy with the tagline “where brands and bloggers connect”. I was one of the privileged bloggers to be invited, and I have to say I had a blast.

John Bell (who I had the honour of talking to for awhile) kicked it off with 12 points on the Code of Ethics for blogger outreach. Needless to say with my recent issues with journalist-blogger relations, this struck a chord with me and I have to say I think Ogilvy has got it spot on.

The Open Room was a great event for me as a blogger. I got to meet people I met previously from Social Media Breakfast: Singapore like Sheylara, Supriya, Jean, Ridz, Rinaz, Nicholas, Michael Netzley and Aaron, as well as some bloggers I know of online but never really met in person like the Tech 65 crew, Ian on the red dot, Sabrina, Plaktoz and Nadia, as well as a ton of people from Ogilvy. (I’m sure I’ve missed people out, let me know so I can add your link!)

The one thing that I felt was replicated from the IDC Conference was that the companies involved seemed a little unsure about what to do when meeting bloggers. We were identified clearly by our magenta tags (they had green), but yet the two groups never really mingled. I don’t think this is the “fault” of anyone in particular, just that this new social media space and community marketing concept are something corporations are just figuring out right now. I definitely hope this changes soon. I don’t want to be pitched by companies at events like these, but it would be nice to talk to them and find out more about them.

Y’know, start a conversation, have a relationship. Like real people.

For example, I was checking out the new Canon models (because my sister took my camera), but there wasn’t really anyone there I could talk to about it. In fact, most of the “green tags” were gone by 6:30pm. (Probably considered as overtime for them).

I think the issue here is simple: Bloggers have taken a step forward. Companies like Ogilvy have taken a very important step forward by organising something like The Open Room. Now the companies, the very people who the bloggers and agencies are trying to help and engage, need to take that step forward and be a part of the conversation, part of the community too.

After all, at the end of the day, for the bloggers it’s a blogger social event, but the companies should at least go back with something to show for it, be it a new blogger relation or a referral. Because otherwise, the time was wasted wasn’t it?

Edit: Forgot to insert the picture, but we got some swag from the event! Nice touch I must say. Anyone needs the PSP case? I don’t have one so feel free to ask for it. Don’t even think about the Nokia N-gage thumbdrive though!

Big thanks to Brian and Tania for inviting me, looking to future events!

Advertising/Sponsorship And The Blogosphere – Issues To Consider?

April 20, 2008

Coming back to thoughts from the IDC Conference, one topic of debate was whether advertising on blogs is okay and whether it sends the right kind of message. Let’s look at it both from the corporation and from the blogger’s point of view.

The Blogger Point Of View.

I personally think third party advertising (ie Nuffnang, Google Adwords/Adsense) is okay. You’re not directly endorsing whatever they’re advertising, just making use of your internet “real estate”. And just like the real world, if you have prime real estate (ie high blog traffic of the right demographics), then why not make some money out of it? After all you’ve worked hard to build that brand and/or community and adding value, no reason why you shouldn’t reap some reward.

What I do have issue with if going straight for advertising. Starting out blogs with the intention of selling space or drawing attention to your 125×125 boxes that you’re willing to sell at $15/week or whatever. It makes me question the validity of the blog and if I should worry about whether you’re telling me A is better than B because A is in one of the 125×125 boxes.

I’m going to condense this with the issue of trust. I haven’t had companies approach me with incentives in return to review stuff. One thing I did opt in for was Joseph Jaffe’s Use New Marketing To Prove New Marketing campaign, where I receive a copy of Join The Conversation and post a review in return. (It’s coming soon). I think that’s fine for three reasons:

1) It’s directly in my niche

2) Jaffe doesn’t ask for a positive review, just an honest review.

3) It’s clear that I got the book for free and I’m reviewing it in return, as opposed to when I plug books that I paid money for.

I think as long as people know that there was a sponsorship involved, they’re fine with it. The big issue is when they’re misled. Then the backlash really comes. For example if I took Jaffe’s book and said it’s God’s gift to marketers/PR agencies/advertisers/the whole world, but didn’t tell them I got $0.10 for every book sale that comes from me, that will hurt me when it comes out. And believe me, it will come out. (That said, I am not making money from Jaffe’s book in any way)

And as a blogger I’d treat any similar “freebie” the same way. I’d be happy to take your product and give it a spin, but the fact that I had that privilege, is not going to colour my review or thoughts either way.

The Corporation’s Point Of View

Many businesses don’t look to bloggers to get their word out yet, because they’re worried about control. What if I give the blogger A and he says A sucks. Well, it comes with the territory. If you don’t give the blogger that product, someone else is going to pay money for it and blog that it sucks anyway. The fault is the product, not the message.

I think the most important thing is not to come across as a company who wants the same thing every company wants (even if you do). Because bloggers will know. A great case study which happened in the US, but could well happen anywhere, is the GM sponsorship of a Manic Mommies event, as covered in CC Chapman’s Managing The Gray. It’s a lengthy case study and you should listen to the podcast to get the full story, but essentially they didn’t say “Here’s $30k, do what you want but plaster our logo everywhere”.

No, they listened to what the Manic Mommies needed and focused on finding the common space where they can add value and build relationships, which really is what this whole space is about.

Ultimately, this space is new and is ever-changing. But trust, transparency and reputation will always be important. The method of doing your advertising online, who you approach and the results may vary, but you have to do it right. Not just “right” in terms of achieving the right metrics and ROI, but right in the proper way that values people and relationships, which will pay for it self many times over in the longterm.

Xiaxue’s iPhone Fiasco: Entertaining But Negative For Singapore’s Social Media Scene

April 12, 2008

I read about Xiaxue’s iPhone blunder via Sheylara two days ago, and here’s the video in question:

The (new) Mediaslut posts:

If I was Apple, I would fight back, take Xiaxue out for lunch, give her the spill on the iPhone and work on convincing her why the iPhone is better than the Chinese fake!

Spot on. For Apple.

But the (new) Mediaslut also says:

Xiaxue’s post about the Apple iPhone is a social media practitioner’s dream come true.

Think of it. A local Singapore blogger get globalised all because of a video review.

Really? Sure, it’s entertaining for two minutes, but for all of us web 2.0 evangelists and social media junkies, especially those on the agency side, let’s step back and look at the bigger picture.

We’re firm believers in what social media can do for us, personally or for a business. But in all likelihood we have to pitch this to a supervisor or client, for their approval. Now, what do you think an MNC client will do if we suggest blogs? One thing they might do is Google “popular Singapore blogs” or some variation of it, to see who’s active in this scene. Who’ll they find? Mr. Brown at #1 and Xiaxue at #2.

Is that going to inspire confidence in them and convince them that Singapore’s social media scene is worth investing in? For better or worse, Xiaxue is arguably the public face of Singapore’s blogosphere, and those looking at social media for the first time may not look beyond that to find the others in the long tail actually contributing and adding value to the social media scene. Is it any wonder businesses in Singapore don’t seem to take blogs seriously?

Reading about social media in Asia, we don’t have many of the problems facing our neighbours that obstruct social media. We don’t have the low internet penetration of Indonesia, nor the geographical issues of India. And yet out social media scene in the business setting is sadly lacking. Is this a possible reason why?

I think it’s okay for us social media evangelists in the fishbowl to see an issue like this and laugh it off as an inside joke. But we have to remember that as the main advocates of this media, there is more at stake. We need to recognise that yes, it does put us on the map, but the implications of that are not always positive.

What we cannot do is be insular and blind to the concerns and issues this raises to the large majority of people who are not in our same fishbowl – those looking in deciding whether this fishbowl is a nice place to swim in.

And we need to know how to tackle these issues, reassure concerns and look your client who just saw that video in the eye and say without hesitation: the water’s fine. come swim.

Because if we don’t, who will?

Edit: In case you don’t read the comments, the (new) Media Slut wrote an excellent post in reply to this post which you should check out. I think it’s a really good conversation that’s taking place (and we’re not taking directly opposing views if you ask me), and it would be great if you would comment either here or at Media Slut to enhance our conversation.

Related posts:

Blogger Outreach: Happening Slowly But Surely

April 12, 2008

Over the last two weeks I’ve been reading about Sheylara’s Xbox gaming preview and then heard about it on the Tech65 podcast today, and last night I read about the HP Mini-note PC blogger preview from Michael, Vanessa, Bernard and Estee (among many others).

My first thoughts? “Damn I need to buy an Xbox 360 just to play The Force Unleashed”, and “Damn that HP Mini-note PC would be sweet to carry while I travel”.

More serious thoughts: I think it’s great that companies like Microsoft and HP would reach out to our local bloggers in the blogosphere. And on top of that, I think it’s great that they didn’t just throw out a wide net and see who gets caught in it, but they really made an effort to engage in targeted outreach to reach the people who would be excited about their products.

Today I also met up with people from The Digital Movement for an informal discussion with a couple of execs from Google to talk a little about feedback and collaboration.

I think this is definitely signaling change in Singapore. No longer are these big companies thinking: We will just produce the product and people will just buy them. They recognise that there is a conversation taking place whether they like it or not, whether they want to take part in it or not.

And frankly, I feel they ignore this conversation at their peril.

I’m sure there are people who’re going to say “Well, how many of these bloggers who saw the HP Mini-note PC will actually buy it? Or how many people who read a blog entry on it will buy it? What’s my conversion rate?” in other words: How is this going to affect my bottom line?

I think from a very practical point of view, that has to be a consideration. But is it the only consideration? So many management case studies point to hotels who give employees a certain amount of money to make right customer complaints as a way of generating goodwill. Is this truly any different?

If the result of this blogger outreach means that the next time someone is searching for the HP Mini-note PC as part of research about whether or not to buy it, and the top few results on Google are these pages and reviews and feedback from the bloggers who attended the outreach, I think the cost of holding that blogger outreach has paid for itself.

I have a lot of other thoughts on the whole blogger outreach strategy and who it works for and stuff like that, but I’d really like to hear your thoughts on the issue. So… comment away!

Social Media Works! (At Least For The Consumer)

March 28, 2008

Remember the chance to win a Wii? How many of you brushed it off and didn’t join it? Well, Nadia (the person I was voting for) and Claudia (the person I found it out from) both walked away happy, winning the Australia trip and Wii respectively. (Damn I’m jealous).

Obviously this is great news to those who won, but here’s a big question: Who remembers the company who organised the event?

I ask because I don’t. Even though I voted every day for a week.

Is such an online campaign considered successful if it’s largely popular and social, but people can’t remember much beyond the prizes and prize destination? What metrics should marketers and/or communicators use to determine the success or failure of such a campaign? Would love to hear from all of you who are smarter than me. (A considerable lot!)

Where Did SMU = NTU Ad Go??

March 19, 2008

Wanida picked up the NTU advertisement post and posted it on Sg_ljers, which got quite a conversation.

Keen eyes noticed that if you try to search for it right now, the NTU ad is no longer there. Here’s the screenshot taken at 11:13pm (click for bigger picture).

No NTU Ad?

So I’m calling out NTU to respond either here or at Sg_ljers or anywhere on the internet: What happened to your ad? Did you read about this and remove it? Did it run out of budget? (Nods to Amelia).

Whatever the reason, why was it done in the first place? Clearly the corporate communications department is new media savvy enough to use AdWords, now use that same ability to respond to the conversation! I think the blogosphere should know what’s going on.

Google SMU = Get NTU?

March 19, 2008

Google SMU Singapore (Singapore Management University) now and you’ll get this result (click for bigger picture):

Google “SMU + Singapore”

The top result? A fake paid link by NTU (Nanyang Technological University). I understand Google can be gamed, but do we really need to do this? Is it bordering on unethical behavior? What do you think?

Edit: Note that I’m not making a big deal out of NTU appearing on an SMU search. It happens with Google and it’s okay. The point is that the paid link says “SMU Singapore” but the URL link is “ntu.edu.sg”. Clearly misleading.

Icio Week 11

March 16, 2008

It’s been a busy week and I’ve yet to read 900+ of my feeds, but here’s the best of what I read this week: