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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bazaarvoice's Social Commerce Summit - Day 1

Wow pretty much sums up day 1 of the Bazaarvoice Social Commerce Summit. I had the privilege of presenting what we are doing at homedepot.ca with Answer Depot to a who's who of social commerce. It was pretty nerve racking speaking after the slate of speakers today - Brett Hurt and Sam Decker from Bazaarvoice, Kelly Mooney from Resource Interactive, Andy Sernovitz founder of WOMMA, Bryan Eisenberg from FutureNow as well people from Dell, Omniture and Canadiantire (on a side note it is great that two Canadian sites talked about how we are leveraging UGC in our business - yeah Canada!).

I'll go more in-depth on some of the key concepts later but are some of the key takeaways:

1. Your brand is open and we need to be able to understand how to harness this, you can no longer control the message.

2. With everything you do ask the question - Will people talk about this? If the answer is no then you are probably wasting time and money.

3. We all need to test more, and don't feel bad if you are not now as it seems nobody is really doing enough of this.

4. Take the time to measure your UGC efforts and leverage the content throughout your organization - from customer service to product development and everything in between.

5. You need to have a community manager and responsibility in the organization for UGC (this was what my pres was about but Dell also echoed this so I can make it a key takeaway...)

6. Bazaarvoice gets it, it isn't about the technology but about the people, process and content they develop.

I'll follow-up later with more details and outline what I talked about but if you are in eCommerce, Social Media or Interactive Marketing you need to put this summit on your calendar for next year.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cool SEO site

Check out xinureturns.com, the site provides a great SEO dashboard that can be used to get a snapshot of your site vs. your competitors and provides a pretty comprehensive set of data that includes not only the pages indexed in the big three search engines but many of the other important variables that make up a successful SEO strategy.

Crowd Sourced Content Continued

A while back I blogged about Helium and their platform to crowdsource content. From all accounts they seem to be doing very well and continue to evolve the model.

A couple of days back I stumbled across Crowdspring, a new firm that allows you to crowdsource creative.

It works by posting your requirement as well as what you are willing to pay and the community provides ideas that you can then review and then accept.

They added some protection for the buyer that if you don't get at least 25 entries you are able to walk away without having to pay and they have also layered in some basic IP protection as well.

Crowdspring makes a living by bringing people together and providing the platform for the crowdsourcing to take place and for this they add 15% to the bid.

So instead of just talking about it I'm going to jump in and try to crowdsource a logo for the blog. I'll keep everyone up to date on how it goes. The sign-up was easy (it did seem to have a glitch on CC processing - it took multiple requests) so stayed tunned to see what happens.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What is an Online Community?

A community is a grouping of people with a shared interest, expereince or passion. Online this translates into people getting together and sharing their ideas, thoughts and experiences with each other. When the magic happens and a brand creates a community it become a place were advocates for the brand are born and given the tools to share with others.

An online community is not a bunch of people linking to your brand, viewing a page on a site or interacting with a one way widget.

It is not about quantity of people but a gathering of people with a shared passion.

Something to think about when build your online strategy...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Building for the Experience

Yesterday I had the pleasure of presenting "Taking the Online Experience Offline" with Jim Yang from Nurun (As an aside Nurun is a great partner and if you are looking for an agency in the interactive space they are one to seriously consider) at Marketing Mag's Experiential Marketing Symposium.

From my perspective the discussion was a very interesting one that evolved around building your online experience and how to bring this offline. I want to spend some time today talking about how to really develop that online experience.

First you really need to understand your brand. What is it that you stand for and what are customers expecting when they start an interaction with you? If you are lucky enough to have an established brand already most of these questions should already be answered and from this you can start to build what your experience should be online.

What this means, in it's simplest sense, is that you should have solid alignment across channels. If you are known for being able to empower people to deal with a problem, find the hard to find product, being the comprehensive source in providing information or always showcasing the newest innovation your online experience needs to match that. Remember that consumers are often interacting with your brand online before they are anywhere else so ensuring you build a positive and aligned brand experience is critical. Your website isn't just a place for simple information but it is an extensive brand experience.

Secondly, after you have understood how to build brand alignment, you need to address a really key understanding of a successful business and that is the concept of customer delight. Are customers delighted with the experience they get when using your site? Is it easy to use, navigate and fun? This is a broad area that covers everything from performance, design and functionally but if people are not delighted, while using your site, why would they ever come back? Build a site that is fast, available, easy to use and fun.

The third concept to address is that of value. Do your users perceive they are getting value in exchange for interacting with your site? Are you providing them the information, tools and resources that meets or exceeds the needs of the visit? You need to be constantly asking this question and making adjustments to ensure you are always seen in a position of value. The internet is a big place and consumers can quickly change to another brand or site (anywhere in the world) that is providing more value to them.

There are many other components to consider but if you start with these three and drive excellence you will be well on your way to being a success. Just think of the sites you visit / use on a regular basis and you will understand how they have solid alignment with their overall brand, provide delight and value on a regular basis.