Consumers don’t care about strategy

I don’t think there’s another product in tech that is ridiculed as much as Microsoft Bob. Never heard of it? That’s probably for a reason. Kudos to Monica Harrington for ‘confessing’ that she used to work on Bob and for writing a blogpost about it on Todd Bishop’s Microsoft blog. The product might have been a failure, the lessons learned are absolutely worth for everyone to read. Here’s one that stood out for me:

Consumers don’t care about strategy. Corporate customers do because if they’re investing big dollars over many years in a product, they want to know that it will continue to evolve in ways that are beneficial to the organization. In the corporate market, selling a vision is huge. By contrast, selling a vision to consumers is pointless. The key question they want answered is, "Does it make my life better today?"

It reminded me of how we always try to translate what lives in the ‘Meeting Room’ to something that can work in the ‘Living Room’ for all our clients. Make sure you read Monica’s full post, it’s worth it.

Personal/corporate identity

Last week at SIME during the first speaker gathering Ola Ahlvarsson (CEO of SIME) thought it was a good idea to introduce Thomas Crampton and myself to each other… he sure was right :) Thanks for that Ola!

We got talking right away (part of which translated in a little video interview – see below) on several things relating blogging, corporate blogging, identities, transparency, … and how difficult it can be to turn small company learnings to good use at corporations, or how US learnings wouldn’t necessarily work in Europe or Asia (where you don’t have one market / one language).

Interestingly enough, the topic seems to surface at other places as well these days, look at this post on MarketingProfs for instance. The video below is part of the conversation I had with Thomas, focusing on identities. Thomas called it “difficulty of blogging for Microsoft”, I see it more as “challenges in corporate social media” or something but that doesn’t sound half as good… and the chat would have been the same anyway so why bother ;)

The reason for this was the notion that corporate blogging projects that get listed this days only seem to relate to initiatives that are set up centrally and less about the ‘accidental spokesperson’. LionelatDell or ComcastCares (aka Frank) or … are real people, real but corporate identities, transparent and honest (I presume) but set up for the company they work for. What if you (like myself) already have that presence and identity, which is personal, but talks about work stuff as well? What if you set up a corporate initiative next to your own, that you own for a long time already? Again, not really problems, but questions/challenges I like to think about… and so does Thomas.

twInfluence

A tweet from Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa) got me curious about a site called twInfluence.com two weeks ago. Anything that has to do with the measurement of online influence interests me, so this was no different. Just like most other services that measure/calculate some form of influence, this one also got it’s own ranking etc figured out, but it was how they got to it that interested me most.

Ever since I’ve started writing about measuring influence, I’ve highlighted there’s too much focus on quantity versus quality. Take the Technorati “authority” for instance, that’s basically just a number of incoming links. Or talking about Twitter and the obsession that many in Twitterville seem to have with the number of followers, or even less relevant: the number of tweets sent out. Never noticed how many times Scoble will refer to the amount of likes he has added on Friendfeed?

It’s not just about quantity at all, but also about the quality of the network, in the case of twitter that translates into the quality of your followers. twInfluence is interesting because it’s the first service that I know that takes exactly that into account. Even if you have only 1 follower, if that is someone with several thousands of followers that is clearly better than the case where you would have a few dozens of followers yourself but all with only few followers themselves:

“First and Second Order Networks: From the perspective of graph theory, a Twitterer’s followers would be considered their first-order network, and their "followers count" the same as their "degree". "Degree" is a simple form of centrality measurement that equates to "prestige" or "popularitiy"; different types of centrality can measure connectivity, authority, and control in a network. The following diagram demonstrates the different "neighborhoods" in a network. The Twitterer is the primary node (shown in red); its first-order neighbors (shown in green) surround it, and its second-order neighbors (shown in blue) surround the outside.”

Another interesting metric twInfluence calculates – what they call efficiency – is the amount of followers you have versus how many people you are following yourself. The site also analyzes velocity (how quickly you’ve gained quality followers) and social capital (how many high-influence people follow you).

twinfluence

Hopefully they’ll also find a way to take out duplications in measuring reach, and there are some opportunities as well to find out about locally relevant influence, but overall this is a very interesting exercise so kudos to the folks behind twInfluence.

When did we start trusting strangers?

“When did we start trusting strangers” is a new research from Universal McCann done in September of this year and is part of their Wave global digital research program. The research/survey was done in 29 countries involving 17.000 internet users.

“It explores how the web and in-particular social media have made it incredibly easy to source and share personal opinions. This has created a revolution in where we source information and what we trust that has massive impacts for the role of professional media and marketing communications.“

I strongly recommend that you take a look at the presentation as it holds some pretty valuable and recent information on consumer behavior and commercial influence. You can find the presentation below, there’s one thing I wanted to highlight specifically though. At a certain point the research talks about superinfluencers:

“In a world of mass influence – some people rise above the average. These are the individuals that influence regardless of category. This is why we call them superinfluencers – they go beyond the average.”

Now that is nothing new, but then they look at these superinfluencers motivations to recommend products or services to their peers (indexed against all respondents) and then you get this:

superinfluencers

You’ll notice that these motivations are pretty similar to all respondents when you look at good or bad personal experiences or when it involves high quality brands, but that they are a lot more driven than the rest of the population by values such as celebrity endorsement/usage, fashionable brands or in case brands are unknown amongst their social group. Now I found that pretty interesting.

Anyway, as said, interesting research and good presentation so go check it out below:

Building relationships

This is truly brilliant! Thanks Darryl for sharing, it’s probably the best take on brands building direct relationships with their customers ;) And I guess for all women who can relate to this… there’s always The Women of course.

Check it out.

A quick one on Twitter

I liked this quote from Tim O’Reilly on a post related to Micro-blogging and how that compares to ‘regular’ blogging. Now I didn’t find the post itself that interesting, but Tim’s comment certainly was (emphasis is mine):

“Also fascinating to see different tweeting behaviors evolve in real time. It’s like watching evolution in bacteria vs. mammals. For example, among the top twitterers, it’s pretty clear that many of them are simply following anyone who follows them, which drives their "popularity." But that makes clear that they aren’t actually following any of those people — the volume is just too great. So ironically, if you follow everyone, you follow no one. (Unless you "friend" them, and only really follow your friends.)

So you can see that there are three categories of twitterers: those who use it for its original purpose, by following and being followed by a small group of friends; those who use it for marketing, by broadcasting to many but following none; and those who recognize the asymmetry, and are followed by many, but follow fewer.”

More than with blogging or anything else so far, Twitter has been a lot about quantity for many people. Metrics that ‘matter’ are number of followers, number of tweets, … and I’ve always thought of that as rather ridiculous. I’m more interested in the ratio of friends vs. followers, the number of links clicked, (comes in bit.ly?), clicks compared to the number of followers, re-tweets, replies, other tweet referrals, … anyway a lot more than is measured today.

Engagement tracking

When I wrote about AideRSS for the first time about a year ago the company was only a couple of months old. Their slogan said best what it was they tried to do (and succeeded in quite well): Read what matters. AideRSS was built as a service that would help you overcome the struggle keeping up with your RSS feeds. Ideally you would upload your OPML (or add feeds manually) and you could then based on a few metrics skim feeds to only the most popular posts. On top of that it would allow you to create a new feed of that… basically mashing up feeds to make them more readable. I loved it instantaneously (as did Marshall Kirkpatrick apparently).

Not long before that post on AideRSS I had written about the lack of innovation at Technorati and where they were missing some opportunities. Today Technorati has made itself irrelevant: there are way better blogsearch engines out there (like Google’s) and their so-called Authority metric is ridiculous. Anyway – back to the point – the opportunities I called out for Technorati are still there and when I saw AideRSS for the first time I considered they could be the ones to deliver upon these opportunities. Interestingly enough, it looks more and more like it that they will. AideRSS isn’t just that ‘read what matters’ service anymore, it has grown into an engagement tracking service, measuring storytelling ROI as they call it. And that’s a great evolution. They’ve even gone beyond keeping their ranking method as they released a new site dedicated to that ‘Postrank’ and also developed a Google Reader extension for Firefox which I’ve been using for a short while now.

postrank

Hopefully they don’t stop there. When I look at the stats for my own feed, I can only notice that not all metrics are correct: too many comments counted, not enough delicious bookmarks counted, … so some finetuning is still in place. But it remains an overall solid service. And I’m pretty sure Melanie will pick up on this as well ;)

Finally I believe they should give access to the full metrics AideRSS gathers for each blog (delicious, comments, …) and not only the Postrank itself. Imagine that you want to build your own bloglist with the top ‘x’ blogs in category ‘y’ but unlike Mack Collier or Peter Kim  you don’t want to look up all this data manually to collect in XLS etc etc to make your weekly or monthly list. What if I could enter all the blogs I want to track against each other in AideRSS where they let you choose which metrics you want to track them with (only Technorati? or maybe subscribers as well?…) and have AideRSS build my list automatically based on the weight I defined for each metric? You define how often the list needs to be re-calculated. You create a widget for your and participating blogs. You create a weekly/monthly autoposting rhythm to your blog etc etc… Wouldn’t that be a compelling offer? And of course AideRSS can take the learnings for what happens in the backoffice because all of that.

Doesday

Embracing a philosophy. A couple of weeks ago I met with David Bausola in London and at some point he brought up his Doesday philosophy – Tuesdays are for doing. I liked the idea immediately, signed up for the Facebook group… and forgot about the whole thing :(

A couple of days ago David blogged about the Doesday idea again and how he still dodges meetings every Tuesday, making it one of the most productive days in the workweek – and a day to look forward to. So from now on – before I forget about it again – I’m adopting this right away and consider myself a fellow … Doesdaian?

Adding the ‘Doesday – Don’t even think about booking a meeting’ message to my calendar as a recurring meeting on Tuesdays. Thanks again for bringing it up David.

Read more about this on the Doesday blog.