Awesome!

If I have one problem with SxSW it would be the noise this event generates. From weeks to months in advance people start chatting it up on where to go, what to do, how to survive, … and by the team SxSW is on there is so much live coverage it is hard to find the good stuff.

That is until you stumble on coverage like this. Forget about live blogging, live twittering… here is Mike Rohde live sketchnoting the festival. In a time where speed and quantity seem to drive the online conversation, in a time where it seems to matter more to say a lot and to say it before anyone else… this is just the break you need. Thanks Mike!

SXSWi 2009: Sketchnotes: Anderson/Kawasaki Spread

Check out the full set right here: SxSW Interactive 2009 – sketchnotes

Marketer’s view on 2009

Mid December last year Peter Kim released his Social Media Predictions for 2009, for which he collected the thoughts of some 14 thought leaders in one nice little document. There’s a lot of good ideas and feedback in there, although I cannot resist thinking some of it is wishful thinking, hoping that some things will change or improve which probably won’t happen. Anyway, worth checking out.

SocialMedia09

Charlene Li (who was part of the people inputting in Peter’s document) added some extra thoughts on it later on her own blog and also ReadWriteWeb weighted in on the predictions.

More recently Valeria Maltoni asked a dozen marketing bloggers about their thoughts for 2009, and as Valeria puts it: “More than predictions, which is hard to do, we focused on direction. This eBook is the result of our collective energy and execution experience”.

marketing2009

Both documents collect the thoughts of marketing professionals in the field and are definitely worth reading so download the PDFs here: Social Media 2009 (Peter Kim)Marketing 2009 (Valeria Maltoni)

Fabulous!

Sometimes there are these websites/services that you stumble upon after following a link in search, twitter, … and for which you wonder how it is possible you hadn’t heard of it before? Recognize that situation? Well Fabchannel.com is such a website – I only heard about it for the first time this week.

fabchannel_deus

This time it was a tweet from someone (can’t find it anymore) that notified me about a LIVE concert of dEUS (in Paradisio, Amsterdam) that caught my eye. And what can I say, I pretty much liked everything about that site. I liked how it had a nice countdown clock to the concert (custom for your time zone), I liked the live stream itself which was pretty good, I like the search functionality, the ability to watch older concerts and especially how you navigate through the tracks, the speed in which it gets connected to the streams, … fabulous! Seriously, how did I not notice this before?

Currently watching/listening to an old Zita Swoon concert, with Bettie Serveert and some Frank Black as well (for the Pixies stuff really).

Crowd Surfing

Some 2 months ago David Brain (CEO Edelman Europe) launched his book called ‘Crowd Surfing’ and I was able to get a copy for review. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to check out this book was that my buddy Steve Clayton was mentioned in it together with the Blue Monster story (just like in PNI, only David did get Steve’s name right ;))

David (and Martin Thomas) write about this age of new consumer empowerment with a bit of a corporate focus, which is something I’m interested in most given my role at Microsoft. In an interview Hugh Macleod did with David, here’s what was said about this corporate angle:

“Sometimes it is easy for an entrepreneur or small business to be in tune with their customers or stakeholders, because their scale (or lack of it) means everyone is close to the customer (an obvious point I know, but size does sometimes matter). The bigger a firm gets the more difficult that becomes . Big companies need robust processes and structures to organize, to do what it is they do, and that can mean that the people inside can sometimes begin to focus on those processes and structures to the exclusion of the customer or the crowd. Dell and Microsoft have both worked really hard to find ways to bring the crowd inside the firm (at the cost of significant disruption) so that they don’t make that mistake. For me, where the crowd meets the organization is where the real action is.”

Crowd Surfing’ has a big piece on Microsoft, not only on the Blue Monster as I mentioned before, but it also features the whole “Successful Blogging at Microsoft: A Best Practice Guide” which is what Microsoft would like its employees to read when they start blogging. Remember I mentioned before that there is no policy re blogging at Microsoft. David and Martin also talk about Apple and the different approach it has taken, still benefitting enormously from this consumer empowerment.

I must admit there is one thing I missed though and that was a more European view on things. I’ve got another post in my drafts on this topic, but the reason this is important is because many of the learnings we have from the US aren’t easily applicable here in Europe. Given David is running the European part of Edelman and hence dealing with similar challenges for his clients I had hoped there would be more on that in the book.

And now, ‘The Fall of Advertising & The Rise of PR” by Al and Laura Ries, because Frank De Graeve told me to…. and because there’s a piece in it on the Mustang brand.

Moving on…

… to a new role at Microsoft. During my 4 years at Microsoft, first as the Belgian Consumer Marketing Manager for MSN and later as the Marcom Lead for MSN and Windows Live in EMEA, I’ve been experimenting with social media. Remember the Windows Live Sessions we did all over Europe (e.g. Brussels, London, …), inviting bloggers to events such as MIX, sponsoring and attending Barcamps or Girl Geek Dinners and bigger events such as Le Web for instance, the adventures with Steve and Hugh around the Blue Monster, speaking at events, getting the word out on ‘Bring The Love Back‘, engaging on blogs and twitter, etc… Although it was only a small part of my job (the main part was setting up online marketing campaigns), I’ve always been very passionate about it.

Since October 1st that has all changed. Since then I’ve started working in a new role as Digital Media Communications Manager for all Windows Consumer brands – PC, mobile and online – as well as MSN and Live Search in EMEA. I got to say, it’s like getting paid to do your hobby just like Steve seems to think about his job as well. And it’s also the reason why this blog has gone silent for a bit, as I’m still transitioning stuff from my old job to other people. Also our fiscal year started on July 1st so I got to get my new plans ready asap, expect more about that here soon.

Anyway, I’ve been waiting for the moment I could tell you all this, wish me luck and if ever you have ideas on how you think I should run this… let me know in the comments.

The Kaiser Mix

kaisermixbanner1 I recently got into Blip.fm quite a bit, it’s an interesting way to get some good music while at work for instance. My buddy Marcus got into it even a lot more and he’s now setting something up to take this Twitter for music just a bit further.

On October 9th he’s going to be live blipping from a bar in Munich. This means The Kaiser and the people he follows will be mixing it up that night in Munich and for all people (like me) that can’t be there that night, we can follow it live on Blip.fm (of course) but also on a live stream that is set up for this. Check it all out here – bring it on Kaiser!

PS: Just don’t let Marcus touch any of them drinks, that looks like a really bad idea.

PS 2: Blip.fm – are you listening? Maybe a good idea to show up, and blip some buzz around.

Famous Jaffe

Last Friday I was invited by Famous to come to their annual BBQ at the Africa Museum in Brussels. They also had arranged for Joseph Jaffe to come and talk about The Conversation to the audience of marketers and advertisers. I had wanted to see Jaffe present again as last (and first) time I saw him was in November 2005 and it was good. Given the post about that presentation was only the second one I had ever written on a blog, it’s fair to say it was part of the reason that I got into blogging to begin with (just like reading “Naked Conversations” was another one). Another reason why I was interested to go was because it would be a good opportunity to finally meet face to face, after several conversations online.

And just like in 2005, Jaffe never seems to disappoint as a presenter. Reading his books always leave me somewhere in the middle, I like them because they’re well written but most of the content is not new to me so that makes them less interesting. But then again, I don’t belong to the core target audience for these books either. The marketers and advertisers invited by Famous do belong to that audience though and I really hope they will read the book. Since everyone received a free copy that shouldn’t be too much of a challenge :)

ConversationalMarketingConstruct

One of the slides that interested me most was the one above about “The Conversational Marketing Construct”. I thought it was an interesting exercise on defining the innovation process, and something we ought to use to check on our own progress with Bring The Love Back.

Overall, very good presentation and glad to finally meet Joseph in person. There were a lot of good statements being made during the presentation but since Clo captured most of them in her Twitter stream, I suggest you check that one out. My favorites:

… And this is my social security number and my bank account. Since you’re all marketing professionals I know you’ll be too lazy to use the data to get into contact with me anyway” (when showing his AMEX, bank account, etc details on his ‘who’s Jaffe’ slide)

Or this one…

It’s not enough to get your foot in the door. Consumers are now so powerful they would break it. They would have to ask you in.

Consumer terrorism

I was rather surprised just a few minutes ago while reading a blog post from fellow Belgian blogger Ine. The post is in Dutch so I’ll translate a bit for you. Ine talks about an email she received from the BDMA – association from Belgian Direct Marketers – about their new congress: “Revenge of the I”. The email has some of the almost standard mumbo-jumbo in there like ‘in ages of consumer empowerment, social networks…’ catch my drift? And that’s all fair to be frank, but then there’s this rather odd sentence saying (and it’s a translation, I’ll do the best to keep the original sentiment):

“During the congress we’ll deepdive into the current era of ‘consumer terrorism’ that is coming up with the rise of digital and social technologies such as blogs, social networks and email.”

Consumer terrorism?! No speakers have been announced yet but I expect to see people from the Computer Crime Unit and others to learn direct marketers how to deal with dangerous bloggers and Facebookers.

Although on a slightly different note, it reminded me of another marketing event/congress organized in Belgium: Customer First… or should I say Digital Marketing First, since that’s what they’ve changed the name to for this year’s event. What’s the idea behind that? Who decides these things? It’s like saying: forget about the customer, this event is about us against traditional advertising and stuff so we have to change the name here!”

In the meantime the Belgian marketing publications ‘MM’ and ‘Pub’ are still as they were 5 years ago, so are their websites (and yes it’s still forbidden to link to MM.be) so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised of all this Belgian Digital Marketers against Consumer Terrorism stuff anyway I guess…

Beyond the hype

Content is King! Content is dead, Community is King! Context is King.… etc etc. What is right and what is wrong about all this? There are a few things I learned over time that I think are important values in marketing today. Let me know what you think. And by the way, it’s not one or the other right, it’s the combination of all of them.

Content is King

It’s clear it’s some people agree and some don’t on this statement, more than anything else this has sparked many discussion already and also I have written about it before. Mitch Joel says content is everything, Doc Searls said right the opposite and I respect them both, still I’m with Mitch on this one. And this is not just an online thing either. Whether you talk about Google’s search index, a blogpost, … it’s where it all starts. What has changed most vs. when we started using ‘Content is King’ in the nineties is the fact that creating content has become a lot more democratic these days, today you and I can create a lot more and easier than ever before.

Distribution is Queen

But content is not all. I think it was when email marketing really began to take off that we added ‘Distribution is Queen’ to the first statement about content being king. All of a sudden we were talking about push vs. pull, permission marketing, etc and it was clear that getting your content out there using more channels than the one it was initially created for was a good idea. That was back then. Today we have RSS, widgets, SEO, APIs, … and all kinds of different ways to get content distributed. Taking the example again of Google’s index being content, then we have to recognize that the clean and fast landing page, fast search, AdSense, etc etc also have been crucial in their success. Distrubution trumps destination.

Context Matters

You got great content and I can access it the way I prefer… still I need to be in the mood for it. Is this the right occasion, or that right timing? John Dodds recently said (when talking about content): “Your focus should be on giving people content they want, when they want it and realise that as soon as you don’t, they’ll move on and remember your content as being irritating multi-media spam in their noise-filled lives.” Microsoft Advertising and MEC Interaction did some research a while back on context which you can download here. Take the context into account and your message will become more relevant… and so will you.

Age of Conversation

Make it social. Get people involved, for real. Some people find the term conversation overused, I don’t. It still is a very good metaphor – yes a metaphor – about how consumers want to interact differently with brands. I’ll take the liberty to repeat this definition of ‘conversation’ found in Wikipedia: Conversations are the ideal form of communication in some respects, since they allow people with different views of a topic to learn from each other. A speech, on the other hand, is an oral presentation by one person directed at a group. For a successful conversation, the partners must achieve a workable balance of contributions. A successful conversation includes mutually interesting connections between the speakers or things that the speakers know. For this to happen, those engaging in conversation must find a topic on which they both can relate to in some sense.” And yes it’s a cliche, but that conversation is already going on, you don’t have to set it up.

In the comments of Mitch’s post about ‘Content is everything’ which I referred to earlier there’s also a nice quote made by Kneale Mann putting it like this: “Content is king, context is the glue, community is the soul.”

Anyway, that’s my take. Tell me what’s yours.

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.