Archive for “September, 2007”

'Marthapedia' looms on the online home-decor horizon

By Heather Angus-Lee

Martha Stewart has proven herself a savvy businesswoman on many fronts – and now social media is no exception: last weeks’ unveiling of the impending Marthapedia! The head of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, broke the big news at the Advertising Week conference.

Modelled, obviously, on the participatory uber-wiki site, Wikipedia, ‘Marthapedia’ will feature homekeeping content, natch, with the gauntlet thrown out for the public to participate in. Wise move: for all those decorating divas who buy/watch/read her stuff, they can now dare to be mini-Marthas with wiki entries of their own, challenging the Decorator Goddess on her stuff.

Martha’s impetus into social media, she says, was seeing how “lively” her MySpace presence had become. That space contains oodles of videos, including archived photos of her early-days modeling career (imagine, a bathing-suited brunette). She has close to 3,000 friends in her MySpace and and almost 400 comments – from fan-gushing to “I need embroidery help.” Martha’s MySpace blog is photo-heavy, but hey, eye candy is how she built her empire.

And Martha just joined Facebook, on Sept. 3; as she wrote in MySpace, ” I wanted to have both a Myspace and a Facebook [profile] in order to get the most friends.” She has accrued close to 2,000 friends in Facebook in four weeks.

Martha won’t stop teaching with Marthapedia; it will be seeded with content from Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook and other of her resources, she says. Practical as she is, likely Martha hasn’t failed to notice that the new wiki site will serve as a giant, international focus group for measuring market reaction – an online test kitchen for ideas, so to speak.

Love her or hate her (criminal record and all), Martha Stewart has got it going on with tapping into new media trends and keeping her legions of fans happy – especially now that she’s promoting them to “virtual consultants.” She’s launching a genuine two-way conversation wherein her followers get to upbraid her for impossibly fussy centerpiece creations, suggest their own festive concoctions, and feel a sense of ownership in Martha’s media empire.

Changing the Rules of Engagement

Yesterday I was giving a presentation at a client event. We were discussing a corporate blogging program we’d launched for them earlier this year, and some of the resulting benefits. Of course they were legion – a clearly growing fan base, amazing feedback from consumers, a couple of significant positive interactions with super-influencers, a smattering of business intelligence, wildly increased Google juice, and significant differentiation from the competition.

While discussing this last point with the firms “Chief Blogger”, he described an event I knew well about, but in a way that made me think about it very differently. One of his posts had prompted the competition to respond on a forum populated by their consumers (who are sometimes our consumers as well – it’s a very active community). The competition posted their rebuttal, not naming names, and then closed it to comments. The reaction was immediate and fierce, with consumers noting the dramatic difference between the competition and our clients’ attitude towards their consumer base. To them, the competition was clearly afraid of the conversation (contemptuous of it, even). It was not positive coverage.

And that’s when it hit me – this is a classic example of how participating in this space can dramatically change the rules of engagement within your market. If you leap in, consumers will very soon expect the same level of dialogue from your competitors. When they don’t deliver, you have a significant point of differentiation in a very emotional place. It’s not about the latest model, colour or styling, it’s about which company cares about their consumers the most. If you can build your reputation on that, what a tremendous competitive advantage.

SMG in the Top 30


Top 30 Canadian Marketing blogs, that is. Thanks to Scott Weisbrod at the Experience Planner for compiling this list!

Here’s the full list, as you can see, we’re in some incredible company!

1. adgoodness
2. One Degree
3. Canuckflack
4. Twist Image
5. Pro PR
6. My Name is Kate
7. Leo Burnett Toronto
8. chroma
9. Common Sense PR
10. Buzz Marketing with Blogs
11. Crap Hammer
12. PR Works
13. Buzz Canuck
14. Student PR Blog
15. Transmission Content + Creative
16. social media group
17. The Client Side Blog
18. The Praized Blog
19. Experience Planner
20. Canadian Marketing Blog
21. BPWrap
22. The New PR
24. Blogging Me Blog You
25. Mutually Inclusive PR
26. FlackLife
27. The Other Blokes’ Blog
28. Tell Ten Friends
29. Happy Pixels
30. Youngblood PR & Marketing

What will be the Internet for my apps?

That’s the question that popped into my head while listening to the Social Computing panel at Office 2.0 in San Francisco two weeks ago. John McCrae was pointing out that Facebook’s strategy of not allowing users to get data out – that is, the inability to extract data from the platform in order to have it interact with software outside – was actually something that would limit the social networks’ growth in the long term. The reality is there’s stuff outside Facebook, and people are going to want to do and use that stuff – trying to force them to live their lives in exclusively your space is foolish.

Which was underscored by a recent post from Chris Keene, called 5 Show-Stoppers That Cause Enterprise 2.0 Apps to Fail. #2:

Look but don’t touch widgets. Although this is changing (see here for the latest on Google’s pub/sub widgets), the vast majority of widgets can’t exchange data. This allows for an infinite variety of cute clock and horoscope widgets, but a paucity of useful business functionality in widget form.

So aside from widgets we have all these wonderful communication and collaboration tools – all online, all different. All completely separate and mostly unable to talk to each other. Which begs the question – what standard or tool will emerge that will be the Internet for my apps and allow me to leverage all this incredible interconnectivity to its’ full potential?

How to Get Buy-In for Your Web 2.0 Project

I’m doing a webinar this week (my first, actually) – here’s the official verbiage, and if you’d like to sign up, you can do so here. I wonder if it will be weird? I’m used to speaking to groups, but not like this!

How to Get Buy-in For Your Web 2.0 Project
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2:00-3:15 PM Eastern

You understand the incredible transformative power of social media in the hands of millions of users. You know that a properly executed strategy can propel your firm well past the competition in the hearts and minds of your consumers. But how do explain all of this to your boss? In this engaging and informative seminar, leading social media practitioner Maggie Fox will share her numerous experiences in getting corporate buy-in at the highest levels, giving you the understanding and ammunition you need to get the Web 2.0 ball rolling within your firm.

    Learning Topics:

  1. Statistics and Usage
  2. Best Practices/Case Studies/Benefits
  3. Metrics, Measurements and ROI
  4. Risks/Risk Management
  5. Resource Requirements/Planning for Success
    Questions that will be answered:

  1. The numbers – bosses may not know social media, but they know numbers. We’ll talk about how many people use web 2.0 tools and platforms and provide you with the ammunition you need to provide context and justification for your social media plans.
  2. Who’s doing what? Using practical facts and case studies we’ll examine emerging best practices and give you examples of how companies have successfully leveraged social media.
  3. How can you measure the success of a social media program? There are no metrics “formulas”, but we’ll talk about setting benchmarks, measuring engagement and touch on the idea of calculating ROI
  4. The risks – what are they, and what do you need to be careful of? How can you neutralize them? Do’s and don’ts.
  5. Resources – using real-world examples, we’ll talk about basic resource requirements and how planning ensures success.
  6. Open Q&A – bring your questions. There will be an open Q&A session following the formal presentation.
    Who should attend?

  1. Executives and managers who “get” social media but need buy-in from key decision-makers to move forward.
  2. Executives who have heard about “Web 2.0” and are trying to assess whether it’s important or not.

Hope to “see” you there…

2nd Toronto Girl Geek Dinner

The date has been set, as has the venue and speaker for the second Toronto Girl Geek Dinner. Here are the details:

Speaker: Leila Boujnane (topic TBA)
The Hot House Cafe
Wednesday September 19th 6:00 p.m.
35 Church Street between Wellington and Colbourne (Google map)
Toronto, ON

A special thanks to Leona Hobbs and Tucows for their incredibly generous sponsorship of September’s event. They’ve agreed to pick up the dinner tab for up to 25 female technology students as well as paying for the PA system. Thanks, Tucows!

Interested in sponsoring October’s event? Please contact me at maggie at social media group dot ca for more information. We’re also looking for a speaker – you can suggest yourself or someone you know on the TGGD wiki. Please specify what topic you’d like to speak on (the door’s wide open on that one – as long as it’s Internet technology related-ish) and when you’re available. TGGDs are always held on Wednesdays.

For more information, you can visit the official TGGD blog, and if you’re a female technology student or girl geek interested in attending, there are still spots available for the 19th. Please reserve your place on the TGGD wiki.

Quetchup is spam – don't get sucked in!

This past week, I received two invitations to join what appeared to be a new social network called Quetchup from two people I really like and respect. I declined simply from social networking overload – there’s just too much new stuff to experience it all and still maintain a productive work life and happy home life, and I hadn’t heard any buzz about Quetchup from anyone. So I deleted.

As it turns out, my 60 hour work weeks saved me from extreme professional embarrassment. The invitations to Quetchup were not issued with the permission of my friends and colleagues. Rather, when they gave Quetchup access to their contacts lists upon signup to determine if anyone else they knew was a member, the site retained the data and used it to send out unauthorized invitations (and so on, and so on…)

Rod Boothby has a more detailed post about Quetchup as well as a list of the firms’ executives and officers (amazingly, it is apparently a public company).

So don’t be fooled – and if you have, talk to Rod. I think he’s thinking class action, and rightly so.

Twittering Office 2.0

I did this earlier this year for Mesh – and I find it an excellent way of providing some great nuggets without feeling the need to transcribe every word uttered by the brilliant people populating these panels. Hit the “down” arrow on the viewer to see past twits…

Blogging Office 2.0 – Social Computing Panel

Here are the most valuable things I got from the Social Computing Panel at Office 2.0:

Five characteristics of social networks, as discovered through research conducted by Shiv Singh:

1. High growth – in the 5 million people or more range, networks start to experience growth acceleration.

2. Large social networks have three types of “clouds” – the “giant” one – those tied to the centre of the social network or the network itself, the “middletons” and the singletons – these last are the random people who have joined because they were told to and aren’t quite sure what to do. The middletons are the ones who form the subnetworks or network ghettos – they are the active component that causes a network to thrive.

3. You’re never building one social network or one social media solution – they all interact and inter-react within the enterprise.

4. Within the enterprise, we don’t always want to share, and that will take time to change. Social networks that encourage reciprosity do very well (i.e. you not only give something, like info, but also get something else out).

5. As a network grows in size, you start loosing members – people lose interest when it gets quite big, they feel like they have lost control of their information. A fear thing starts to happen and they opt out.

From John McCrea of Plaxo: yesterday a Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web was published. It’s here. I’ll read and post about this later.

Where in the world are social networks?

This interesting, if simplistic, illustration from Valleywag shows you what’s hot where. But, uh – no social networks in China or most of Africa? Or at best “unidentified” (which is also what Antarctica and Greenland show up as)? And what about places where two networks vie for dominance – how is that indicated?

The data comes from Alexa rankings, and it’s good to see that it included Cyworld, which is both the world’s oldest social network and the dominant player in South Korea, where 50% of the adult population has visited it.