Browsing Tag


Social Media Can Save The Planet

This post will clearly go all over the place, but it’s probably the only way to approximate “truth in headlining” with the post. After surveying things I’ve been writing on to help refine the blog, I’ve decided that sustainability of business practices is something I want to focus on going forward and I have been struggle for a headline for almost a week. Unfortunately I thought of this overly agressive headline while doing cocktails at the Cluetrain Event and stated it out loud as a transition piece I was going to do, so here we are team.

Sometimes doing what you say you’re going to do is tough, I actually ended up living in Guatemala for a while because of another casual public comment in grad school. In all fairness to my Dad, he never said having a set of core values was all rainbow and unicorns. The good with the bad I guess.

Green Washing Social Media

With the increased public declaration of environmental virtues by corporations, social media initiatives/projects can easily attach to these ever growing budget line items for the Global 2000. Potentially the transition from a pure play marketing opportunity to a core business requirement to remain competitive in the marketplace could be found in the green space. Investment in sustainable business practices ultimately lowers cost and improves effectiveness throughout the entire value chain. Social media can help deliver on these discreet business needs through network enabled communications and engagement.   Corporate green washing could be a good thing for social media.

Social media provides greening opportunity on many fronts for business not just deployment of social media by non-profit organizations. The customer/prospect engagement model of social media represents a paper free and transportation light alternatives for business to generate awareness and reduces friction in customer relationship management.

So there has been a considerable interest around a twitter account from Popeye’s Chicken and the positive feedback is certainly merited, but might also represent a paper free event management strategy. I normally don’t think about Popeye’s outside of Hartfield while I’m running for a plane and I now I’m somehow interested in an office chicken comparison event thanks to Twitter. What an interesting narrowcast event with zero cost and has definitely improved the brand’s visibility. Through network based interactions and social media tools Popeye’s has provided me access to an event I previously hadn’t been aware of.

As for a less effective and material rich comparison, I recently received 4 heavy stock post cards from IBM for an event I have zero interest in participating in. Not only did they hit me 4 times there was also a pile of at least another 50 for former employees on the counter for folks who had worked there for 5 years. I can’t even remember the event topic, but I do have the concept of wasteful in my head. With wasted materials and excess transportation of perhaps as many of 100 poorly target pieces to a single building or as much as 150,000 pieces globally from a single event it appears Marketing’s contribution to the benefits achieved in IBM’s annual environmental report could be elevated with social media in out years. That’s a whole lot of poorly target paper consumption and marketing spend which could roll up positively into the annual report.

Acknowledging the scale delta in these examples of a network based engagement models, each can be easily extrapolated into a meaningful metric around effectiveness, it’s just math. Quick logic indicates that free vs. not free scales in a reasonably linear fashion in network.

Sustainable Engagement: The Social Media ROI

So if you think of brand visibility and cost of delivery as key components of effective customer engagement, social media may be able to deliver an demonstrable ROI. Think about it, I truly haven’t thought of Popeye’s Chicken as a food stuff outside of the airport and definitely NEVER as a brand, but they have clearly created level of brand awareness which I did NOT get with the 4 duplicate cards from IBM. Leaving out fuzzy logic and brand math, it has some significant costs. Accountable math is not a requirement for social media or theoretical environmental models, but doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to support.

ROI is about hard dollar reductions and any pull through opportunity to do a little green washing for the company is a good thing. Corporate values can be good things on several fronts.

Math is fairly straight forward: Production Costs + Postage. Simple approximated math says that IBM threw away over $20,000 from their media budget in a single mailing and chewed through a couple of carbon credits along away. I can’t imaging the annual impact, I think I get 2 mailers from IBM a month.

The Environmental Event Horizon for Social Media

So thanks to some random post on the LA Times blog and a Twitter account I’m more interested in some guys lunch event than a professionally planned IBM event – that’s an interesting parallel to ponder. Where organizations are looking to create awareness, social media is a great engagement model for marketers. The highly stylized IBM post card was completely ineffective. Social media provides for event management and broadcast messaging which has long worked in the geek community.

Personal proof point: Use of Twitter is how I ended up at the Cluetrain 10th anniversary event which was actually not the 10th anniversary since publication, but the I think the 9th is what I caught. Good thing mathematical accountability isn’t a social media core value.

Social media enablement of events is a great way to engage consumers to create awareness and provide reduced materials consumption which can easily be seen as green social media use case. Events are paper laden engagements and ripe with opportunity. From the initial outreach to conference schedules reduced consumption and costs have tangible business impact, plus we might get cooler stuff in the schwag bag if they saved on production costs. Technologies such as CVent have helped organizations to transition to paper free management, plus the added benefit of improved contact data quality since the users ultimately manage interest and level of participation themselves or get weeded out due to bounce backs. Social media’s green impact on conferences also extends to the virtual conference schedule.

A new platform from Cerado, Ventana, appears to also have a green value component on top of the social benefits of presence. The initial deliverables to the market included The Unofficial Pocket Guide for SXSW and the latest Official Supernova pocket guide this type of social media use case potentially become a preferred engagement model for event planners. This could ultimately eliminate paper agendas for some events while providing support for conference presence and communication not available with a 4X4 card stock badge insert.

Yup all over the place with this post- but this a simple example of achieving a competitive advantage in marketing which lowers cost and represents a great green washing opportunity for companies. Weak transitions and all – the conceptual hard dollar ROI model hopefully will get folks to thinking about how to help reduce the substitution of Influence for Investment when doing business cases for social media since it is the more generally acceptable use of the “I” in such conversations.

SOBCon08: A narrowcast effort for sponsors’ brands

SOBCON08 – definitely a good event on all fronts – hotel, venue, food, people and content. There are plenty of great re-caps online about what took place at SOBCon from a content perspective, lessons learned, visuals and a even musical spins, but not a whole lot on the sponsors of the event which definitely help make the event a success. Several key sponsors participated throughout the Jim Beam, Utterz, Buzz Logic and Network Solutions, which I’ve labeled “platinum sponsors” based on my ability to remember mainly. There were a couple of bronze and tin sponsors thrown in, but since no of the other stuck in my head, I’m focusing on the platinum sponsors.

With a focused group of bloggers north of 100, each of the sponsors below innately improve the impression of their brand with the group and create awareness for their offerings and brand.

Jim Beam

They brought the brand manager and his pitch seemed completely honest, if just a little bit unstructured. Even a little humorous with his public declaration of “what is blogger casual”? I didn’t know either, so my laughter was for a different reason. Brand guy spent 3-5 minutes doing a recap of their nascent social media strategy while acknowledging this was all a new thing for them and they came to learn. Thanks to his rambling confession of lack of knowledge, every Sicilian Kiss I order going forward will be with Jim Beam.

What is a Sicilian Kiss? A Sicilian Kiss is a drink which is 1/2 Whiskey, 1/2 Amaretto and a splash of orange juice chilled (shaken over ice) and served as a shot.


The bald guy was there – he pimped a Bessie or two, did some demos and did the video ad thing which Jen won. The selection process Sim engineered was very egalitarian and represented the voice of the people. The process also offered another opportunity to meet folks and share ideas.

Overall the Utterz participation was a cool thing all around. I just seem to like this company just a little more after their sponsorship and am wondering when I will just make the call and shave my head. What was your tipping point Sim?

Buzz Logic

A company I had previously not heard of which apparently does influence visibility, ok I have see folks post on them like Jeremiah, but didn’t spend any time figuring out what they did. Know that I know, there are just a bunch of uses for this for businesses and bloggers alike. Uses from companies range I suspect from competitive intelligence, brand influencing and as strategic planning tool for social media. It could also be used potentially for demand shaping. Buzz Logic invested throughout the event starting on boat night. Great music and a reasonable liquor thanks to their willingness to throw down some hard earned VC cash.

Buzz Logic not only was nice enough to sponsor, but they sent two hotties as the demo team, Valerie and the other one. Both provided real-time product demos on topics of interest for each person they engaged – personalized demos WORK! Good stuff for everyone which got the opportunity to work with both of them over the conference.

Network Solutions

Active participants throughout the event. Provided web site analysis for the participants which I personally didn’t benefit much from, but I may not of asked the right questions or something which impacted the value. They even had a guy who was now going to blog after his attendance based his newly found understanding of blogging. Dude, let us know the the URL when you’re “online”, as I would like to see what you do. Your name would be cool tool.

A Humanized Brand

After re-reading my post so far, I’ve noticed a common theme – humanization. By deciding to engage people and not crowds with their sponsorship each company developed relationships with users/buyers/influencers/evangelists. While I may not remember all the components of everyone’s solution, stories or names – I do remember the effort. By sponsoring this event these folks have done more than an Ad, blog post or “coordinated” social media campaign could.

At the end of the day, that’s what SOBCon was about – meeting people, learning thier stories and trying to improve. There was very little personality driven discussion or focus it was more about process – trust me as the short guy with that cool chick Emily.

PLEASE NOTE: I authorized the use of the term hottie prior to posting with both Valerie and the other one, Sandra Ponce de Leon.

Tools: Search is Vast

I had the opportunity to catch up with John Price last night in Austin and he is doing some REALLY cool stuff at Vast, a focused search tool.  Vast is a vertical search platform for autos, travel, and real estate, where users make decisions leveraging Vast partner websites, such as AOL, Overstock and  The site represents an interesting community tool for organizations to deliver search capabilities focused on areas of interests and providing incremental capabilities which are not core to a given community platform.  Search is definitely changing – going narrow and focused, vertical.

The growing number of companies out there improving search (Xobni and Twing) marketers, small business folk and communities will clearly benefit as more and more smart folks are looking at delivering the next generation of search.  What cool search tools have you found?