Pownce Update – Pownce Export Tool

Late Monday Six Apart Sent out the following message to Pownce Users on the end of the Pownce service and the content export tool.

We are sad to announce that Pownce is shutting down on December 15, 2008. As of today, Pownce will no longer be accepting new users or new
pro accounts.

To help with your transition, we have built an export tool so you can save your content. You can find the export tool at Settings > Export.
Please export your content by December 15, 2008, as the site will not be accessible after this date.

Please visit our new home to find out more:
http://www.sixapart.com/pownce

Our thanks go out to everyone who contributed to the Pownce community,

The Pownce Crew

Rogue Marketers – Everyone Thinks They Are In Marketing

Do you have Rogue Marketers in your organization?

Without sounding like an evil tyrant that wants to crush anything outside the corporate standards it is important to know if you have people speaking for the company or coming across as if they are speaking for the company online. If you take a look at your webstats you might be able to uncover some of these people as they drive traffic to your corporate site while others are hiding out.

Corporate standards are important whether dealing with on or offline marketing. When someone is out there on their Myspace page telling people that they work for your company while putting unprofessional pics of themselves on the page containing info on your company it can hurt your brand. I recently took a look at the stats for a company and realized that one of the larger referrers to the site was someones Myspace page. This caused me to take a look at the page and it looked fine but others that I found after this were not so flattering.

How to handle Rogue Marketers.

Before you begin to deal with these individuals it is important to make sure that you have your plan together. Begin by approaching the overall issue of why they are taking the actions that they are taking. Why are they creating their Myspace page(For Example)? Is there something that the company’s corporate online presence isn’t doing for them as an employee or the customer? Are their actions online more related to their personal activity that just happens to coincide with some mentions of their professional life?

Once you have established why they are doing what they are doing you know how to formulate your plan. If you found that something is lacking in your corporate presence then you know what to do. No matter what it is time to lay down the rules of engagement for employees.

Pownce Closing – Sold to Six Apart

After reading the Six Apart site and seeing that they are “welcoming the Pownce team” and that the site would be shut down it was time to remove my Pownce link from my signature. I wonder what else is going down.

I know that the economy is down and the government announced today that the U.S. is officially in a recession and has been since Dec. 2007 but does that really slow that amount of traffic to microblogging sites? Does the ability to generate revenue change for this type of organization? I would think not. What does that mean for sites that have more traffic and activity than Pownce?

I love Twitter and am not suggesting that there is something wrong with Twitter and other micorblogging platforms but is there a business formula or path to a formula for success that they are following that others can’t find?

I believe it is more of a first mover advantage along with the Tweeting to be seen scene. You know you tweet just to be seen on the scene sometimes.

Speed of Social Media

If you want to know the impact of social media then you should really look at the speed with which it can impact your business or your personal activities. I was recently at a conference and as usual my laptop was open and Twhirl was standing at the ready to let others know my thoughts and experiences of the information being covered.

As I sat in my seat listening to information on Green Marketing I noted a comment about when Green will go mainstream. A few seconds went by and I noticed someone a few rows up that ended up on my Twitter page. During the next break I spoke to @springnet who turned out to be the social media expert that was going to be presenting during one of the following sessions. One of the examples of social media was concerning the growing impact of Twitter and microblogging PR tools. At this point I became part of his presentation and was able to interact with the audience through his presentation.

I went from part of the audience to being covered in a presentation in a matter of minutes. This may not have had a business impact but during the course of the presentation several other companies signed on to Twitter for the first time and others in the days following. Most are stilling trying to figure it our a bit more but eventually they’ll come to a strategy.

Social Network Profile Name Selection

I recently received an email from a business partner asking about selecting names on Twitter. I believe that the majority of selecting a name on Twitter applies to most social networks. I try to think of this as the wild west. The situation with Twitter is similar to when domain names first became available. The main difference is that people understand now that once a name is taken it is no longer available. That being said you should lock up your name, your company name, variations of your company name and any other names that might apply to any far off business ventures that may be lying around in the back of your mind. If you don’t there is no precedent for taking control of a name that relates to a trademark. People are already locking up major brand names in the hope of selling them. Most companies will go the legal route but they can just pay a couple hundred bucks and save on the cost of their legal.

  1. Your name
  2. Your brands
  3. Versions of your brands
  4. Future venture names
  5. Anything else you can think of.

Twitter may be something that people are still trying to figure out but it is in a similar position to Google a few years into operation. They have the majority of the traffic to microblogging platforms and are constantly tweaking and innovating their interface and tools. Not to mention that you can use their API and create your own Twitter tool. As for my selection of my Twitter profiles I operate each of the names below for myself or professionally. The first 4 relate to blogs that I have. Then number 5 is my name and the last 4 are for professional purposes.

  1. @marketingtexan
  2. @socialpaw
  3. @smokeytheblog
  4. @funidea
  5. @kevinfarley
  6. @hnn
  7. @meritagehomes
  8. @montereyhomes
  9. @legacyhomes

In talking with some younger generations they are using this system for chat. While I was used to using ICQ in college and some earlier systems before that the options are greater and this type of social integration into direct communication is just a natural progression.

UpdateBrian Solis posted an article that linked to a username checking site for social networks. http://usernamecheck.com/

Social Media Etiquette – SMetiquette

While watching tweets come up on Twhirl to my desktop I started thinking about the appropriate use of social media when it comes to the information agreement with those that follow you. I suppose it would be called SMetiquette.

When you are working on gathering followers on Twitter or subscribers to your RSS or to any other form of social media that you produce then it might be time to make sure that your voice and tone are in line with the expectations of your groupies. If you take a look at the language used by some smaller organizations in comparison to that used by organizations such as: @Thehomedepot@wholefoods or @meritagehomes, you’ll notice a vast difference. The kind of language that kids tend to use on their Myspace pages would be comparable to that used by smaller organizations while larger more professional organizations tend to stay more professional and predictable.

Who’s at the helm? this may be one of the determining factors that truly exemplifies the reason behind this difference. At larger organizations those responsible for dealing with the public are usually PR people. The smaller companies either have their founder or someone with some interest in social media. They haven’t approached the possible implications of this choice with as much attention as they should.

A few ideas for your strategy:

  1. Play to the expectations of your followers – Don’t send/post something that is out of line with your typical information unless your typical information is out of line.
  2. Frequency is a careful balance – Posting/tweeting too often can be a bad thing. If you don’t have enough activity people lose interest.
  3. Personality is key – Your personality should show through so that your organization looks like a person and less like a cold faceless company.
  4. Monitor interactions – Make sure that you have enough people to take care of the interactions.

Online Attitudes Change in a Down Economy

So should you’re online marketing. If you think that online percetions of brands and products don’t change then you haven’t been working in this space long. If you think about your online marketing for a moment and the amount of information that you are continually taking in and trying to optimize for then you can get a good picture of the pace at which the online marketing landscape changes. If stop and blink your target has moved and you need to recalculate where and when to get it back.

When the market takes a downturn and perhaps your specific vertical people start to change how they approach their decision making process. The typical consumer begins to act with less emotion and more with the facts and figures opf what the purchase will mean to their bottom line. With the contraction of the economy the pockets of the consumer have less disposable income. They tend to take longer in their purchase process. The emotions that they felt before when they thought about the status or imagining their family with a particular product and how they saw their family using that product will change to less of an enjoyment factor and more of a need factor.

What to do? Start thinking about why someone would need your product or service. Make sure that your online marketing states these reasons as quickly and most concisely as possible. You are used to pointing out the promotion or benefit but make sure that you pay attention to the true need.

If your product or service is not a need, it may be time to reach a new segment. Find the segment that still has disposable income and reach them. This can be done by more closely picking the placement on sites and sections of sites or perhaps the more segmented use of ad networks.

What do you do before dumping money into PPC or banners?

I got to thinking how interesting it is to hear what people do before they start their next or first online campaign. The most interesting part of it is hearing that most people just push their budget into Google PPC.

So what should you really do before going blind into the online world? Do some planning! It is really frustrating to hear that people just jump in face first into this world. Beleive me the planning is more than worth it.

Heres is a quick list of what to check when creating your plan:

  1. Are your customers online? – If your customers aren’t online then they might be eventually but make sure that they are first. Otherwise, you might as well look at print or direct mail.
  2. Where are your customers online? What sites do the visit? Search for your product and see what sites show up on the list.
  3. What are your customers doing online? Are they shopping? Perhaps they are looking for your product or some complimentary item but at least you get a sense of the way that you have to approach them. For instance if they are looming for your product you can directly advertise your product. If they are looking for something that is complimentary to your product then it might be time to talk about your products benefits and how it applies to their needs.
  4. Are your customers looking for your product? If your customers are searching for your product and you have competitors then you might want to make sure that your campaign is able to stack up against the competition’s spending on max bid. Keep in mind that if you bid up the max bid then it will eat through your budget quicker.
  5. Is your site ready with the appropriate response mechanisms in place for people to take the next step? What happens when your customer reaches your site? Is there a clear next step? Are they able to find what they would expect to find based on what your ads say?
  6. What is the competition doing? Take a look at your competitiors to see how they are handling this. If for nothing else than to see their approach. If they have been at this for a longer period of time then they might have this a little more figured out but if they are noobs to this too then it might be fun to watch them waste their money experimenting first.
  7. Do you have a budget in place to make this a successful campaign? One of the first items to think about when producing your product is the marketing budget. You can produce the best product in history but if you don’t have enough money to tell people about it then they will never know. But of course that is the theoretical approach and it is quite rare to have that level of planning and budget available. I like to see 75% of what would be the theoretical perfect budget to give it a go. Besides that if you have that full budget then you have less to work for to make the campaign work.

Get some elbow grease, blood, sweat and tears and go to town.

Twitter Tools & Gadgets List

With the emergence of Twitter’s API came along an ever growing list of Twitter oriented tools. I’ll be adding to this list as I discover more and unearth my notes on other tools that I have forgotten about. Eventually I’ll get around to organizing them into categories to help you determine the options for certain types of activities involving Twitter.

Mr Tweet – Mr. Tweet looks through your extended network to help you build effective relationships on Twitter.

Twitter Blocks – Showing recent updates from users and the people they follow.

Twitter Grader – Twitter Grader gives you a grade based on the power of your Twitter profile.

Twitter Sniffer for Brands – Finds mentions of your brand on twitter including @replies and other random mentions. It assumes your Twitter username and brand name are the same.

Twitter Search – Formerly Summize

Tweet Scan –

TweetDeck –

Twemes.com – Twitter memes – global tags for twitter.

Twhirl –

Twistori 

Twitpic 

Twitscoop 

Twitterfeed 

Twitterlator – Twitterlator is a full-featured Twitter client. The fun and elegant design will make your social networking life run smoothly. Stay in touch with friends, make friends, and feel the pulse of Twittersphere, all in real time. This version is the first release on CNET Download.com.

Twittervision 

Twitterrific – Iphone and Ipod Touch Twitter posting tool.

Twellow.com – Categorize each of the users responsible for messages into the various categories found at Twellow.com. By adding these people to specific categories we help you narrow your searching into specific niches where you can find who you are looking for.

Twitterank.com – Twitterank is sort of like Page Rank for twitter users. True to its namesake, it uses “back references” of sorts to determine how worthy of a person you are in Twitterverse.

Twitterless.com – Get updates when someone stops following you on Twitter.

Twitbacks.com – Free Twitter backgrounds.

Twist – See Trends in Twitter.

Twitturly.com – Twitter history.

When its a Numbers Game do Banners Help?

When its a numbers game its important to keep your eye on the online prize and of course make sure that your conversion formulas are correct.

Banner Impact – When you need a large amount of website visitors due to your well established conversion rates that predict a percentage of conversions I have found that banners tend to have a positive impact on the conversion rates of PPC. In general you can expect that those that are searching, on search engines, for your product are likely to end up at the locations that you have selected to place banners and experience your brand via your banners. Even if they don’t click through on the banners they are likely to experience your brand again when they are searching for your product on a search engine via pay per click and feel more comfortable clicking through on your ad.

Price – The price level of the product may impact this process. In my case I am dealing with a very expensive product that people tend to spend months doing research and finalizing their decision. In the case of a lower priced product I could see the impact of the banners lessened and being even with pay per click. But the banners would still impact the decision making process since the potential customers have experienced your brand.

Branding – Its breaks down to online branding. If you don’t believe in branding trying this out for yourself with a well funded campaign will provide you with results that justify my position.

Other Factors – There are of course other factors that impact these results.

  • Design of the banner that matches the category expectations
  • Message of the banner
  • Placement on the right site for your potential buyer.
  • Placement on the page – Location of the banner on the page on your selected site.
  • Ad network variations