Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Inbox Spam Drives Up The Value Of Social Networks

Two small cans of Spam. One is closed and the ...Image via WikipediaPeter forwarded me this interesting post on Searching For The Value in Facebook that explores the reasons behind a AOL style closed garden working in an age of openness and transparency.

While this is a larger topic, one of the things it did get me thinking about was why I sometimes use social networks like Facebook and Linkedin to send messages to people. I mean, after all, I have their email addresses for the most post and it's just as easy to drop them a line the old fashioned way isn't it?

And yet, if I really want to get in touch with someone in particular who I don't communicate with often, I tend to do it through those other communication vehicles. Why? The answer is simple. Spam.

Spam has become such a problem in my personal email inbox that I tend to lose important messages either amongst all the SPAM or those messages accidentally get lobbed into my SPAM filter. My assumption is that others have the same issue. So if i really want to get in touch with someone and MAKE SURE that they actually get and read my message, I will sometimes send it through a social networking service.

I started to ask around to my friends, and as it turns out, at least with my compatriots, they all tend to do the same thing. What does this mean for the future of CRM based communications? Hum...not sure yet. But definitely working on it.

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Monday, 15 September 2008

The 12 Year Old Does Insights Research

I am a huge believe in customer insights research but the truth is that not all clients you work with feel the same way or have the budgets to pay for third party research. But that being said there is ALWAYS a way. In the past, planners and the consumer insight obsessed have spent hours scouring the Internet for free white papers, press releases, viewing ratings sites, reading consumer forums and comments etc.

Just the other day, a new source popped it's way into my life brought to me by my 12 year old daughter Cee. I was helping out my brother with a new company he is starting that will be manufacturing authentic high quality horse hide leather jackets. At some point we started to bring her into the conversation and asked her what leather jackets meant to her. She gave some impressions (it's for tough people etc.) and then got bored with us (big surprise there) and skipped off into the computer room. After about twenty minutes she came back and said,

"By the way, I posted your question on Gaia and got over 25 answers already"

Ok so were the answers all that helpful in this particular case? Well probably not but truth be told the Gaia audience is not really the high end vintange leather jacket market. But what I did find interesting (other than the fact that all kids seem to be born marketers) is a new way to use social networks to potentially garner consumer insights and research in the future.

How about you? What are your favorite free consumer insight research sources?

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Blurring Of Fictional & Real

Jay FairesImage via Wikipedia I was followed today on Twitter by Betty Draper. For those of you who don't know, Betty is the wife of Don Draper, a fictional Advertising Creative Director on the show MadMen.

Now, I do not follow any of the MadMen characters on Twitter so I was a little surprised she found me. I went to see her Twitter stream and found this interchange between Betty and a friend of mine Dondy...

What I find so interesting about this is the on-going blurring of the lines between fictional and real that digital is facilitating. Some say content is king, others community, but IMO it is connection that will be reigning supreme.

A while back, I met someone from the social network Bebo who was in town from London for their NA launch, and she told me that one of the most successful parts of their site (and what they consider a key point of differentiation) is their exclusive webisodic videos. The video viewing numbers she gave me were impressive but more importantly than that were the top 15% of fans who were not only joining in on blogs and other UGC but choosing to interact with the characters of the shows as well.

How this will impact content creation going forward and what it could mean for brands ongoing remains to be seen although it will certainly be an interesting trend to watch.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Open or Die: The Value Of Robust Ecosystems

From a philosophical place sometimes it's hard beat how Google approaches product development. Let's take Android as a great example. For those of you unfamiliar, "Android...[is] the first complete, open, and free mobile platform."

Why is this so significant? As I discussed in a post long ago "Closed Ecosystems Die, Shouldn't Someone Let The Cell Phone Companies Know?", most mobile companies and handset providers have created closed ecosystems. Breaking in a new product such as Android in such a tightly controlled environment seems somewhat doomed to fail unless of course, you go in the opposite direction.

In Androids own words, "The concept is simple: leverage Google's expertise in infrastructure, search and relevance to connect users with content created by developers" which will be released in the Beta Android Marketplace...for what they are calling a user driven content distribution system.

Will Android and Android driven handsets be able to compete? The value of robust ecosystems and connecting with the developer community particularly in the difficult mobile market place will absolutely blow the doors wide open. Already hand sets with more robust browsers like the iPhone and the Bold are changing the way that people extend their desktop experiences to the mobile work force and economy.

And what will happen to the mainstream players who have up to now kept their ecosystems closed? Open or die will soon become the motto and that's not just what i believe. That's just an ecological fact.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Data Base Marketing: A Life Saver?

I have always been one of these "paranoid, big brother is coming" types who has been very vocal about online privacy. Because of this that I don't give my postal code out when stores ask for it and am pretty stingy about being on mailing lists. In general, dbase marketing as a consumer (note not marketer) makes me crazy. I don't want to be tracked and see very little value in it for me.

But that was before last week. What happened between then and now?

I belong to Costco. And I have to say, in spite of myself, i love Costco. It's around the corner from my house and always has something that I just can't seem to live without (can you say 40$ cashmere turtleneck sweater?).

Because they are a "member" only business, I have to use my Costco card every time i go there which means I'm tracked to the max. Now at first, this bothered me. But they assured me I would not get Costco mail (which I have not), Costco phone calls (which i have not) or any other annoying usual dbase marketing communication.

And in the past week, I've come to realize that dbase marketing could actually save my life. How?

For anyone not familiar with the story, Canada had the largest recall of food products in its history with Maple Leaf Foods recalling untold amounts of processed luncheon meats with the current death toll of 11 from the bacteria listeria.

I mentioned the food recall to Peter (the hubbie) who was up North and had bought a bunch of stuff at Costco before he left. He was sure that Costco meat was not on the recall list. I double checked and it's not (It's still not by the way). However, later on when i checked my voice mail, i had a phone call message from Costco saying that we had bought a Kirkland meat Pastrami which was from Maple Leaf Foods and should be thrown out immediately.

If anything was going to get me to change my mind that there is some value to dbase marketing, that moment was it. It might have saved our lives. Now if only they had ALSO refunded us the cost. :)

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