Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

Junta42 Content Marketing Blog Rankings Announced

In Ideas on February 25, 2009 at 10:24 am

Joe Pulizzi over at Junta42 has released the updated quarterly rankings of Content Marketing Blogs. I’m pleased, and honoured, to be listed among so many smart people. Eyecube came in at #4.

The top Three:

  1. Marketing with Meaning, from Bob Gilbreath, Chief Marketing Strategist at Bridge Worldwide
  2. PR 2.0, from Brian Solis, Principal at FutureWorks
  3. Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs

Here’s more from Joe, directly from the release:

“The content marketing revolution is alive and well,” said Joe Pulizzi, founder and chief content officer of Junta42, and co-author of the book, “Get Content Get Customers“.  “We started this almost two years ago with just a handful of blogs. Now at more than 200, it’s amazing to witness how many marketing professionals are actively discussing the benefits and challenges of content marketing and custom publishing.”

If you’re not familiar with Junta42…

About Junta42
Junta42 is the go-to site for content marketing and custom publishing, educating marketers and publishers on how to grow their businesses with relevant, compelling content in the form of custom magazines, blogs, eBooks, white papers, social media, newsletters and more. Junta42 offers Junta42 Match, a free service for marketers that helps them find a custom publisher or find a custom content provider in just minutes – free and with no obligation.

In Defense of the Periodic Table of Social Media Elements

In Uncategorized on February 24, 2009 at 10:56 am

I’m amazed by and appreciative of the overwhelming interest in the Periodic Table of Social Media Elements. While the majority of comments were positive, there were also some comments that were critical of the concept. I use the word critical in a positive way – they forced me to think deeper about the concept and hopefully this will lead to improvements and a more elegant version 2. 

The main criticisms seem to fall into three catergories:

1. This has no direct correlation to the scientific Periodic Table of the Elements.

Guilty as charged. I took algebra 2 in summer school… pass/fail. I broke out in hives if I got near the science buildings in college.  I can’t tell you the difference between inert and noble gases (I don’t even know if that is a fair comparison). I used the periodic table because it’s something we all have at least passing familiarity with and I thought it would make for a compelling and eye-catching visual.

I think I succeeded on that count, but realize now that the more scientific-minded of you out there would have liked to have seen a stronger correlation to real science if I was going to use that visual. Fair enough, and I’ll see if that is possible for a version 2.  But ultimately this was meant to be a little more light-hearted than that.

2. Isn’t this just link bait?

I won’t deny that there is an “element” (see what I did there?) of that here. But here’s where I draw a distinction: A lot of the people who follow me on Twitter, and who read this blog, are not Social Media experts. I felt the table would expose them to people and applications they may not be familiar with, so I wanted to include links, allowing them to jump right to that person or tool.

To me, linkbaiting is when you make an outrageous or overtly provocative statement and link to someone in order to get a reaction out of them. Like saying, “Chris Brogan is clueless about subject x.”

I don’t expect the people I linked to to come here and comment or post a link to the Table – it would be great if they did, but that wasn’t my intention – I posted the links so people who did come here could easily discover new things.

3. Why did you include so-and so?; Why didn’t you include so-and-so?

The AdAge Power150, Viral Garden and Junta 42 all provide fairly scientific, analytical methodologies for determining the important and relevant people in Social Media. I was merely providing my perspective and while I completely agree that you could have added another 116 people and things, I don’t think anything/anyone that did make my Table was wildly off the mark.

The one thing I think that is unique and interesting about the Table is that it isn’t just a list of people or a popularity contest. It includes behaviours and practices and tools along with people. Some of the comments note that it is a snapshot of Social Media in early 2009. I think that is a nice way of looking at it.

This wasn’t meant to be some sort of Bible of Social Media, to be used as a substitute for getting involved or learning on your own.  I hope people will use it as a tool for discovery and ideally make their own Tables.

As always, your comments are welcome and encouraged.

The Periodic Table of the Social Media Elements

In Innovation on February 23, 2009 at 9:53 am

Social Media really is a lot like chemistry. There is a huge pool of elements you can choose from and an infinite variety of combinations you can create.  Twitter + sharing + commenting will give you a different result than blogging + LinkedIn + Flickr. Then of course there are the active ingredients – the people. A dash of Chris Brogan plus a big helping of David Armano and the whole thing changes again.

Well, this got me to thinking. It would be handy to have a Periodic Table of the Social Media Elements. So, I created one:


Social Media: Art? Or Science?

Social Media: Art? Or Science?

You can grab this from Flickr here. Please feel free to download and share.

Now, if I’m being honest there is nothing particularly scientific about the table. In fact, your table could be very different from my table. You have favorite applications, people and habits. That’s cool. The magic comes with using them all and putting them together in different combinations. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), the Periodic Table is not a static thing:

“The layout of the table has been refined and extended over time, as new elements have been discovered, and new theoretical models have been developed to explain chemical behavior.”

So maybe in six months or a year I’ll revise this and add some new people, take out others, and mix things up a bit. I think it’s also a cool way to brainstorm – coming up with different ways to connect different elements of Social Media.

A lot of this is going to be old news to Social Media practitioners, but if you have friends, colleagues, parents, students or bosses who are having trouble keeping all the elements of Social Media straight, you may want to download/print this chart out for them.

I know what you’re thinking now (assuming you’ve been kind enough to read this far): Cool idea Rick, but what do all the abbreviations stand for?

Here’s the key:


Social Media Behaviours: (These are the positive things you choose to do)

Sh = Share

Mt = Monitor

Fr = Friend

Read the rest of this entry »

Pre-Oscar Night Reading

In Innovation on February 22, 2009 at 10:45 am
Classic Title Sequences Set the Scene

Classic Title Sequences Set the Scene


Great story in the Sunday New York Times looking at the history of opening credits of films. A good read to get you in the mood tonight for the Academy Awards.

But a good lesson for marketers as well. How are you setting the mood for your product? When creating an experiential marketing program, how are you transitioning consumers from ‘the real world’ to your event? If you want people to suspend belief, you’ve go to slowly bring them into your world, not abruptly transition them.

Taking control of the situation

In Insight on February 20, 2009 at 7:28 am
Seth's got a head for business.

Seth's got a head for business.

If you are reading this blog (thank you!), I gotta believe you are involved in marketing, branding, PR, advertising or some related field. If that’s the case, reminding you to read Seth Godin is like a parent reminding their kid to eat dessert and play Xbox – probably not necessary.

But I wanted to call out his two most recent posts. They both touch upon a similar theme – what are you doing to take control of or change your situation.  It can be easy sometimes to just roll along the river of life, letting it take you where it will. But that’s often going to lead you somewhere you don’t want to be. It’s not always easy, but sometimes you have to travel upstream, or take the rapids, to get to that great fishing hole. (Disclosure – ESPN is on and they are live in Shreveport for the Bassmaster Classic).

Seth said it much better than I did, without the fishing reference, so go read his stuff.

The Lesson? It’s Obvious.

In Ideas on February 19, 2009 at 11:24 am

Last week a friend of mine, Matt McQueen from Omnigage (they do experiential marketing, check ’em out), sent me an email about something called Obvious Adams. To be honest, I had know idea what he was talking about. Turns out Obvious Adams is a book, written in 1916, by Robert R. Updegraff.  It’s the story of an advertising man with an uncanny knack of seeing the… obvious. The book, which you could read over a long lunch, isn’t particularly remarkable.

What I did find interesting was that it was written almost 100 years ago and that despite being about a subject I care about and am familiar with, I had never heard of it, or its author. I was also intrigued by the way I received book. Not a hard copy, or even a link to a slick website. Matt send me a pdf attachment. Here it is.

I think this has a chance to spread, and I think the timing is right for it to do so. The premise – keep things simple – seems right for 2009.  Let’s see if this becomes an ideavirus.

Translating Moneyball To Your Business

In Innovation on February 18, 2009 at 10:12 am
Does your company have a Shane Battier -- Photo: Robert Seale for the New York Times

Does your company have a Shane Battier -- Photo: Robert Seale for the New York Times

Michael Lewis has made a career of chronicling the new math that has been taking over sports. His books Moneyball and The Blindside delve deep inside baseball and football respectively to chronicle the paradigm shift underway in the area of player evaluation.  The New York Times Magazine cover story this week on NBA player Shane Battier was another Lewis effort in this vein.

The underlying concept is that the assumptions we have made regarding evaluating talent for decades in sports may not be the best if the goal is winning games. Players like Battier don’t put up traditional ‘big numbers,’ but somehow teams that employ Battier seem to win more games, a lot more games. Coincidence? Actually no, according to the new science of evaluation.

This got me to thinking – can the same be true in the business world? I work for Taylor, a PR agency, so that’s what I know and I think a comparison can be made. The ‘big stats’ in a business like PR would be things like landing a big placement or bringing in new business. Those are tangible, easy to understand metrics for success. I’m not suggesting by any stretch they don’t have value, of course they do. But how do you measure, evaluate, train and reward people who make important, but less tangible, contributions?

Here are are a couple of examples:

  • Six people in a brainstorm throwing around ideas and ‘Shane Battier’ makes a one sentence comment that subtly alters the creative and the agency ends up winning the business.
  • ‘Shane Battier’ mentions to a colleague that the reporter being pitched at Time magazine is a huge Boston Red Sox fan. Colleague leads call to said reporter with anecdote about growing up a Red Sox fan and ends up placing the story.
  • Though not his official job, ‘Shane Battier’ teaches colleagues tips for writing better press releases or suggests they sign up for the Help A Reporter Out service.

That’s just a couple of quick examples, but you get the point. I’m sure just about any business or industry has examples of their own. The point is, how does a company recognize those often unseen efforts? In the NY Times magazine piece, it’s noted that (the real) Shane Battier may not get a ton of rebounds, but he often tips a loose ball to a teammate who does get the rebound. That sort of thing simply isn’t measured right now.

The flip side of this is, if you are management, how do you leverage these sorts of talents? How do you put your ‘Shane Battier’ in situations where they can provide the most value? Can you have more than one ‘Shane Battier’ in your office? Can you have too many?

Like sports, businesses often evaluate all talent by a set group of metrics. Perhaps more businesses should read Michael Lewis.


Note – This post is in no way to imply that Taylor doesn’t value diverse forms of contributions. The agency has employees with a wide range of talents and skill sets and does a good job of evaluating them on an individual basis.

Monetizing Isn’t Always The Answer

In Ideas on February 16, 2009 at 10:02 pm
Monetize this!

Monetize this!

How often do you read about social media applications like Twitter, where the question is: Yes, but how will they monetize it?   Or, Sure, the guy has a great blog, but how can he monetize that? 

Well, here’s my question: Isn’t “How can we monetize that?” the question that all those financial wizards were asking each other for the last decade? Isn’t trying to figure out how to make money from out of thin air at least part of the reason we are in the economic situation we currently find ourselves in? And the boom of the late-90s, didn’t that house of cards collapse when everybody tried to leverage eyeballs into venture capital money only to realize, they couldn’t monetize their clever ideas? Yeah, monetizing, that’s the answer!

Maybe worrying about monetize absolutely every aspect of our existence is a pretty poor lifestyle choice. Maybe charging for everything – and feeling the need to buy everything – isn’t a particularly sustainable model. 

I’m not suggestion we all forget about work, become artists and live in some sort of communal fantasy world where everything is free, but maybe there isn’t a business model for Twitter – or shouldn’t be. Maybe it’s just some incredibly cool thing that was built for people to use. Now, does that mean that maybe we all need to chip in to help keep it free? Ok, maybe that’s the cost.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Toby Daniels at the Social Media Week closing party on Friday night. Toby was the leading driver (though by his own admission certainly not the sole one) behind the week long event. Now, I don’t know Toby, but he spent about five minutes chatting with me and it was clear that Social Media Week was not a money maker, nor was it intended to be. I think that fact freed him to do so many things, good, positive things, that would never have happened had he charged attendees, or jammed up sponsors, etc. So, what’s in it for Toby? Well, this guy is living life and he’s doing it in a way that brings value to others. If that’s your goal, everything else works itself out.

To me, social media isn’t an angle to play in a bid to grab some cash.  It’s a lifestyle to be shared and enjoyed with other, likeminded individuals.  If employment opportunities or chances to make a little cash come along, great. But my bet is that the guys at Twitter could figure out some sort of cloud sharing server option where all users foot a little bit of the bill if they needed to.

Brains uses their brains

In Uncategorized on February 16, 2009 at 9:43 am

Paul Groves over at Groves Media (part of the WordPress Marketing Bloggers Network) tipped me off to some really clever marketing by the Welsh beer brand, Brains. Read Paul’s story here.

When Brains don't work, use Brawn

When Brains don't work, use Brawn

Brains was being handcuffed by regulations and laws in France regarding beer advertising on sports uniforms. Rather than give up, they got clever, switching the ‘Brains’ logo on the Welsh Rugby Union team jerseys to read ‘Brawn’.  See what they did there?

The result was not a compromise, nor did they settle for a ‘good enough’ answer to the challenge. They did what all good marketers do when faced with an obstacle: they employed some savvy marketing Jujitsu. The answer to a marketing challenge isn’t to water your efforts down, it’s to embrace the challenges or limitations and flip them.  Your consumers don’t want to see you wave the white flag, they want to see you pull a Captain Kirk on the Kobayashi Maru test: Don’t admit defeat, just change the rules of engagment.

NY Times Magazine Thinks There Might Be Something To This Whole Social Media Thing

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Here’s a sneak peak at the Sunday, Feb. 15 New York Times Sunday Magazine:

Illustration by Peter Arkle for NY Times

Illustration by Peter Arkle for NY Times

Page 14: William Safire takes a look at the etymology of the words mash-up and remix in his On Language feature.

Page 15: In The Medium, Virginia Heffernan muses on writing a Facebook Status Update.

Page 17: Rob Walker’s Consumed column uncovers the artist behind Twitter’s Fail Whale. 

Next week: A fashion spread with pre-eminent bloggers/supermodels Greg Verdino, Adam Broitman and Geoff Livingston.