Club Social

When brands make that step to be more social and decide to let go of control, we should applaud that. Sometimes we tend not to notice this, and focus just on those brands (still the most) that don’t get it at all.

Club Med is making a first step to engage with the community and in a very nice and smart way if you ask me. Interel – Club Med’s PR agency – worked with Caroline ‘Rolling Talks’ Maerten and Adhese for this first campaign. They asked blogger/photographer Ine if she was interested in going to Chamonix to one of the Club Med Villages. Nothing extraordinary here, but the nicest part of all this is that a special banner (developed by Adhese) is showing the latest updates of this trip tapping into Ine’s Twitter and Flickr stream. These banners are shown on a selection of Belgian’s most important blogs.

Here are 2 screenshots of that banner:

ClubMed1    CludMed2

I don’t know about you but I think that Club Med has made a very smart move here. And the choice of Ine as the blogger to be invited is a very important part of this smart move.

Congrats to Caroline for setting it up with the agency and for Adhese to keep innovating, also within the banner.

Euroblog 2008

This last Thursday and Friday I attended and participated in the Euroblog 2008 event in Brussels organized by Euprera – the European PR Education and Research Association. The symposium was very much an academic event with a lot of academic speakers and attendees, and less practioners (at least that’s how I experienced it).

That wasn’t a surprise though, as the event was clearly set up to try and have the academia embrace the need to change. Still, sometimes, I felt like I didn’t belong there. Now I don’t mean anything bad with this, there’s just a very clear gap between the way we all approach things. It made me think of trying/testing out the water in a swimming tool. If you’re a practioner like myself you will get ready for the pool, put your toe in to get an idea of the temperature, probably feel like it’s colder than you would have wanted it to be but you’ll get in the water anyway and start swimming. You’ll talk to other people in the pool, maybe about the water, or maybe about that new glide which you then try out as well. This is the way me (and other people) started their blog, signed up for Twitter, Friendfeed, etc etc. After the presentations from the academia, it became clear that they approach ‘the pool’ in a different way. They talk to people outside and next to the pool about the temperature of the water, use a whole bunch of metric equipment to test the water conditions, relate all that info to ideal human body conditions, etc etc (this still fully dressed of course) to work out a project trajectory to get into the water at some point in time.

And I know this analogy is a bit black&white, but I think you get my point. On Friday I sat on a panel myself that was a mixture between academia and practitioners and there the difference was less visible (on the panel itself). The discussion itself with the panel and audience was pretty interesting to me as well. It highlighted once more some of the fears but also strengthened the idea that there aren’t enough case studies to go by.  At one point I feel this is just another ‘reason’ to keep away of change as long as one can. But as you (might) know from an earlier post I do feel we have to reach out more to get more people embrace the need to change so maybe we should just see what we can do about it – there really is more than just Kryptonite you know ;)

Don’t get me wrong, I did like the event. Some discussions where pretty interesting, some presentations like the one’s of David Jennings and Martin Oetting where very enjoyable and it was very good meeting up with the Edelman Digital crew: Steve Rubel, Marshall Manson, Rick Murray, … but also David Weinberger or Neville Hobson, the latter whom I met in person for the first time after being in several online conversations before.

One by One

“Done, done; on the next one
Done, I’m done; I’m on to the next one”
– One by One, Foo Fighters

It’s hard to believe that yet another year has passed. It just seems like only a few weeks ago I celebrated my first year of ‘Cross The Breeze and yet today a second year has passed. And it has been fun again, although I am wondering more and more lately where all this is going. Funny enough, shortly after my first year on this blog I started a new one on a totally different topic (and a lot less serious) which has recently passed ‘Cross The Breeze in traffic.

There are some things that happened this last year that marked the year. The first one happened in January when The Blue Monster cartoon became a bit bigger than just a cartoon. Many Blue Monster related ‘things’ have happened since then, quite a nice adventure to be involved with. Another exciting project that became bigger than I expected was Bring The Love Back. The reactions on the ad were beyond what I could have imagined and knowing that something new is in the works makes it even better.

In the meantime I changed the theme of this blog away from the dark background to a lighter one and was fortunate to have one of the readers to design a funky new header as well. Thanks again Dr. Pixel.

Another fascinating project to be involved last blogging year was the Age of Conversation. A fine idea, a fine bunch, … and still very much alive. As said, I’m quite proud to be part of that. On top of it all I was just in NYC when the book was launched and that called for a celebration as well with CK, Mark Goren & David Reich. The fact that you meet new people through conversations on blogs is still one of the most valuable surplus about blogging and also last blogging year a few new connections were made.

A last thing I noticed while going through last year’s posts is that I’ve become more fascinated about the concept of influence and hence wrote about that quite a lot. I’m working on a little project right now that should provide some more information around all that soon.

That said, let’s just kick off this 3rd year shall we ;)

What’s holding you back?

There’s an interesting conversation going on at MarketingProfs Daily Fix about what should come first: the policy or the blog? 

“Should a marketer simply start blogging or wait instead until all of the blogging policies and procedures are established before beginning? Although the absolute answer is that it depends on the organization, the industry, the product or service, I suggest strongly that the blog come before the policy.”

I think that is very well put, especially by adding the notion that it does depend on the organization or product, but basically saying that you should just go and try for yourself. It’s how I started little over 2 years ago and I it really is the only way to really understand what this is all about. I thought I knew as well, but the experience learnt me different.

Stephen Denny adds to the conversation by saying the policy should definitely come first, and I see his point. but too many people use this lack of clarity, this lack of rules as a reason for not trying out for themselves. And that’s my main reason why I wouldn’t focus on the policy first. Ideally you have a small guideline, but like Cam comments: common sense should apply. I couldn’t agree more, remember my chapter in the ‘Age of Conversation‘: you get a long way with common sense.

Also don’t forget that engagement with social media already starts by reading, leaving comments, … so there really is not that much reason not to try this out for yourself today. Congrats C.B. for your first post at Daily Fix – it’s a really good one ;)

Brands on fire

There are a few reasons why I got very interested in the email Chris Abraham sent me a week ago about Firebrand. Not only did it seem to be about a very interesting project, but also the approach Chris and Firebrand took to get the news spread was a good example of good engagement in social media. Since Firebrand is not live yet for public viewing (launches on October 22nd) I will talk a bit more about their outreach to bloggers and leave the review for once I get access.

firebrand

Here’s just a little introduction to Firebrands though, so you know what I’m talking about:

“Firebrand is a new, opt-in entertainment and marketing destination that gives consumers interactive access to their favorite brands, products and promotions.  Firebrand programs the “coolest” TV commercials the way MTV used to program music videos and its multi-platform network, slated to launch on October 22, is the first to go “live” simultaneously on TV, the web and mobile.  Firebrand even has CJ’s (commercial jockeys), the same way MTV had VJ’s, who will contextualize the commercials as art and entertainment, and guide consumers through playlists, contests and promotions.”

And while the above copy may sound like your average PR speak (and it is from the press release obviously) the approach taken by Firebrand is interesting:

  • The email from Chris Abraham announcing Firebrand was personalized enough to make it feel personal. I know many people will have received an email that was pretty similar to mine, using my name and blogname in the email shows the effort to make it personal. And I can tell you that – even though that simple – that doesn’t happen very often.
  • They invited influential bloggers to their press event together with press, not as a separate event.
  • It’s right on target as well. Advertising, marketing, etc are amongst the topics I cover regularly so telling me about Firebrand makes sense. Again, pretty obvious to some, ignored by many. I receive emails about the most random things and I don’t even consider myself influential… think about the silly stuff bigger bloggers are getting.
  • Apart from their blogger approach, they also used social media in a smart way. Not by just creating the next Youtube video, but really making good use of the power of MySpace, Youtube, Delicious, Flickr and Facebook. All links which were included on the PR site (click on the links to see the examples).

It remains to be seen whether the service will become a success but I can only notice they seem to have their act together at Firebrand and given some of the most popular videos on the web are actually ads there’s definitely potential. Hopefully I can tell you more in a few days/weeks.

Essentials on engagement

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a very good post on engagement that was written by Mike Arauz. I think someone passed it on via Twitter but I don’t remember exactly. In this post Mike writes about the three essential elements of engagement: relevance, utility and delight.

Relevance
How each customer’s choices are guided by myriad personal values and lifestyle circumstances…

Utility
How you actually want to make yourself useful by offering customers something they need…

Delight
Give your customers the pleasure of discovery…

Great post, read the details on Mike’s blog. It reminded me again of the ‘passion starts with two simple words‘ post Kevin wrote long time ago.

Sphere of influence (2)

This morning Gavin Heaton shared a little neat online tool with us on Twitter, called TouchGraph. In a blog post Gavin wonders if this is the tool that’ll allow you to calculate someone’s sphere of influence, which reminded me of this graph made by David Armano.

The whole thinking around influence interests me probably more than anything else, so I had to check it out. Here’s the graph for this blog:

touchgraph

First thought, it looks like a pretty neat application and I haven’t done testing it to be sure what exactly the benefits might be. It doesn’t look like the graphs your sphere of influence though. It sort of maps all kinds of links it can find for this url (it can do keywords as well by the way). On a personal level you see links to LinkedIn, my Blogger account, my other blog, … and as far as Kinepolis (which was my old employer). On a ‘content’ level you see links to a cluster around Sonic Youth, which is probably because the name of this blog refers to a Sonic Youth song. And then there are some more random links really only relate to some of the wordings on this blog.

So for now, a lot of random links mapped around a url or keyword if you ask me, but nevertheless pretty interesting to check out a bit more.

The M20: Top marketer blogs

I wrote about this new marketing hotlist before, but now after the alpha, beta and gamma versions the final list is here. This list was created to highlight popular blogs from client-side marketing professionals and I’m happy to be on the list.

Peter Kim, the analyst at Forrester Research in Boston that created the list, calculated som form of rank based on a combined set of metrics:

Since feed subscribers is the most difficult to track, Peter uses Feedburner stats when available and Bloglines for others. In the case of Bloglines he makes the assumption that these only account for 20% of the actual amount of subscribers. This assumption is based on cases where both numbers were available so that makes sense to me.

Here’s the list, which will be updated every month from now on, now we just need a blog badge for this ;)

  1. ExperienceCurve :: 74
  2. Strategic Public Relations :: 70
  3. Listen Up! :: 59
  4. BeRelevant! :: 53
  5. Conversation Agent :: 51
  6. Todd And – The Power To Connect :: 48
  7. Flooring The Consumer :: 42
  8. Decker Marketing :: 41
  9. The Lonely Marketer :: 41
  10. Marketing Nirvana :: 40
  11. Consumer Generated Media :: 38
  12. Churbuck.com :: 38
  13. The Digital Mindset Blog :: 36
  14. Bernaisesource :: 35
  15. Biznology :: 34
  16. Cross The Breeze :: 33
  17. AttentionMax :: 33
  18. Masiguy :: 32
  19. Community Group Therapy :: 31
  20. Buzz Marketing For Technology :: 31

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Read what matters

When I was going through my feeds today I discovered a new service called aideRSS and given my +300 subscriptions I’m always interested to find out better ways to manage these. It seemed like that is exactly what aideRSS is able to do so I checked it out immediately this morning. First thought: brilliant.

AideRSS2

There are some feeds in my reader that definitely could be skimmed down to the most interesting posts, like the del.icio.us/popular feed (image above) for instance so I gave that a try. After uploading a feed you can select to see all posts or only the good post, great posts or best posts. This is based on the PostRank feature that is propriatory to aideRSS and unfortunately the help page about that is offline for the moment as I’m curious to find out more about how they calculate that.

You can upload your whole OPML into the service, you can subscribe to a filtered feed (like all best posts from a feed) in the integrated feedreader or in your own. There are sharing widgets etc etc. And as you can see in the screenshot above, you get immediate info from del.icio.us, Digg, Technorati, … on the interaction for that post. This is something that I suggested to Technorati a few weeks ago so I obviously like that as well.

Best of all? It’s pretty amazingly fast (especially when they have a blog on record yet). And it’s there that I see the only problem for now as well, each time I did get an error it had something to do with uploading a feed that wasn’t in the system already. Hopefully they’ll fix that soon. And as said the PostRank information page gives an error as does the aideRSS blog for the moment.

Overall I think aideRSS still needs work but it offers a pretty good and fast solution with very good navigation so definitely worth a try. Sometimes it crashes when trying to add a new blog and I get the feeling there’s work to do on the PostRank score as well looking at some of the differences between blogs on that topic. I also think they have an opportunity to do some of the stuff we saw on http://share.opml.org. Anyway good stuff you guys, I would give that feedback on your forum as well if it weren’t down for the moment ;)

[Via Blogologie]

Technorati: where’s the innovation (2)

technorank2

This isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I wrote this post, but seems like Technorati did read it though. Alright, I’m just kidding although the screenshot is 100% real. Talking about that particular post, I had some good interactions on and off my blog about it, but none of them were from Technorati.