Forget your website, create a social footprint

On a webinar last week, I briefly covered an idea I call the information eco-system (or social footprint) and received a lot of questions about it.  This is a critical concept for businesses today so I thought I should expand on the idea.

If you did a web search for you or your company three years ago, the result would have been a list of websites.  If you conducted the same search today, you may get LinkedIn profiles, YouTube videos, Slideshare presentations, maps, perhaps even tweets from Twitter.  In fact, as the social web has emerged, visits to traditional websites have declined dramatically for many companies.

The implication is that if you have a website and think that’s all you need any more, you’re not understanding the social web.

People have the opportunity to find you (and your competitors) in lots of places now and you should have a systematic, mindful strategy to populate this information eco-system with content that will support your business objectives … and hopefully drive people back to your website. Put your information out there where the people are. Then give them a reason to go back to learn more at your website.

Let me give you a dramatic example of this in action. Recently I posted a slide deck on SlideShare for the convenience of my college students.  I went back to the site an hour later to make sure the slides had uploaded properly and 251 people had already viewed the deck.  None of them were my students, since they didn’t know about it yet!   Those 251 visitors to my deck were vitally interested in a presentation called Social Media 101 and were high potential contacts for me, right?  I added a slide at the end directing people to visit my website, blog, follow me on Twitter, etc.

Another little example: I recently gave a talk to economic development leaders and asked them what they would get if they googled their cities.  If the answer is YouTube videos of drunken conventioneers, they better get out there and populate the social web with videos that tell their story THEIR way.  If you don’t systematically populate the web with your story, you’re abdicating the brand management for your organization.

So, create and own the social footprint of your brand everywhere you possibly can … or at least to the extent that your resources can support.

Does this make sense?  What ideas do you have about this concept?

The new realities of corporate blogging

I’ve had the most fun over the last few weeks working with Billy Mitchell, Martine Hunter and the incredible professionals at MLT Creative in Atlanta preparing their company’s first major webinar.

They gave me the license to think through the implications of new research and trends on corporate blogging and it resulted in some really fresh — even controversial — myth-busting ideas.  For example, have you considered:

  • Actively selling <gasp> through your blog in a way that your customers will love?
  • Dismissing customer comments as a measure of blog success?
  • Market-segmenting your blog?
  • The two possible conditions for an active corporate blog community?
  • Why “entertainment” should be a cornerstone of your blogging strategy?

If you missed this webinar, MLT has made the entire session available by clicking HERE.

But it gets better!  MLT has also provided a free eBook on Corporate Blogging (has some different information than the webinar) which is available HERE.

There were so many questions at the end of the webinar that it will take 15 consecutive blog posts to answer them all. To see answers from see really interesting blog-related questions, visit the MLT blog over the next two weeks or so.

Many of the ideas in the webinar are against the grain of social media convention, but I think represent a realistic assessment of the role of blogging in the corporate world today.  I’d love to hear your take on what I’ve presented!

A powerful story: Simple, but not simplistic

If I asked you to create a compelling three-minute video with only written words, could you do it?  Take a look at this interesting video treatment of words playfully telling a serious story.

Occasionally I feature examples of business storytelling that seem particularly effective and I wanted to highlight this 3-minute video by Dan Heath on behalf of the charity The Girl Effect. I’m not showing this as a political message. I’m only shining a light on this creative work as an absorbing way to convey a message that is elegant and surprisingly powerful.

It’s simple … but not simplistic. Seems to be a hallmark of good storytelling?

What’s your (non-political) reaction to this story?

Twitter ads and the end of mankind

The web comments about the announcement that Twitter will have ads on their searches (as a start) were about evenly split between “ho hum” and “disgust.”  This comment is pretty typical of the disgust category:

“Once Twitter starts inserting ads into my feeds will be the day I turn twitter off for good.” – “Nick”  NYT comment

I guess this is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for to pontificate about making money on the web …

Folks, it isn’t working.

Remember a time not long ago when people actually PAID for stuff?  Then the web came along and everybody ripped everybody else off.  Music, books, art, whatever. This used to be called a crime. Now it’s called sharing on the social web.

The ripping off became so widespread that it is accepted as fact, and a generation of people grew up feeling entitled to OFS (only free stuff).

But the Internet futurists told us back then, “Hey, everyone! It’s OK, because NEW business models will emerge to compensate all these companies, musicians and artists who are now forced to give away their goods and services without compensation.”  Well guess what?  It’s been about 15 years and it hasn’t happened. I’m pretty sure that means it isn’t going to happen.  And I think we’re in trouble.  Oh yes, I’ve read the book Free.  I still think we’re in trouble.

The only sanctified, protected work on the web today is advertising.  Rip off an ad, you’re in court. Rip off a music album, it’s cool.

So look, unless you want to have a paid subscription, stop whining about Twitter (and every other web platform that needs to advertise) and give them a break.  This is their only likely step toward a sustainable business.

We created this mess, now we have to live with it.  From now on, it’s an Ad, Ad, Ad World.

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