Recommended Reading, 11/18/08

This 49-minute podcast from iMediaConnection’s Brand Summit interested me not so much for the marketing case study (although it’s a very good example of viral marketing) as for the honest description of the barriers these two Kraft brand managers confronted in selling their word-of-mouth marketing campaign. You won’t often hear corporate marketers speak so frankly about internal politics.

Adam and Tyler had to repeatedly sell the concept of giving up control over the message to skeptical colleagues, corporate lawyers and top management. Even after the campaign had successfully concluded, they still faced opposition. In some cases, they dealt with it by simply ignoring it or telling people what they wanted to hear. There’s also a good account around minute 40 of how they entered the blogosphere to engage with online critics when the guidance from management and legal was to remain silent. Here’s a link to a written interview, but you’ll get a fuller story from the podcast.

Josh Bernoff has a nice wrap-up of the blog/Twitter/Facebook storm that erupted this past weekend over J&J’s ill-considered “Motrin Moms” ad. The company could have avoided the whole mess by testing the ad with a group of moms, who are some of the most active online networkers. Such a simple way to avoid embarrassment and the cost would have been minimal. Now J&J’s smarting from the whole experience. McNeiil’s VP of marketing has the mea culpa here.

The credit company is experimenting with a Facebook community that offers small business owners a way to connect with each other and to get business management advice from Visa. More than 21,000 members have joined and the repeat-visit rate is twice the industry norm.

Here’s a novel promotion for the forthcoming movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” 20th Century Fox is creating a global participation campaign that enables people to vote on what they would save if the earth truly stood still. From the press release:

Earth’s Vital List, which launches today, poses the question, If the earth was under attack what would you save? Consumers are asked to build a “Vital List” of 12 items (people, places or things) they would save on “the day the earth stands still.” Vital lists can be shared with friends encouraging feedback and votes on which items are truly vital. The world’s most vital items will be tabulated on a global microsite. The site also provides visitors with a view on how items are being ranked around the globe.

I recently criticized corporate bloggers for spewing happy talk while the financial world melted down. So it was nice to see this profile of Marcy Shinder, VP of brand marketing and stategy for American Express OPEN. Amex responded quickly to the Wall Street crisis with a series of articles and multimedia messages aimed at small-to-medium businesses and outlining what the crisis means to them as well as steps they can take to survive the downturn.

Metrics expert Mark Ghuneim suggests that we still have a long way to go in evolving our thinking about viral video metrics beyond view counts. Marketers are beginning to think more holistically about how to measure success. Quoting:

According to a recent FEED Company study, some 70% of ad-agency and media-buying executives plan to increase budgets for viral video marketing in 2009. In addition, 72% of ad-agency executives and media buyers say their clients are “interested” or “very interested” in using viral video as an integral part of their marketing campaigns….

“Favoriting,” commenting, linking to, embedding, social network amplification and other action all constitute a level of user attention that must somehow be accounted for and given appropriate value.

In addition, a marketing executive would also want to know how users were discovering their video, as well as how quickly the view counts were growing. The velocity of consumption and adoption is an important indicator as well as factors beyond the standard impression and stream data. For example, are bloggers talking about the video? Are users micro-blogging about the video?

With an average member earning about $110,000 a year and more than $100 million in investment capital in the bank, you’d think LinkedIn would be sitting pretty. Yet the company is laying off about 36 people. Smart move. Don’t let VC love make you fat and happy.

Om Malik has little nice to say about Jerry Yang’s stewardship of Yahoo. Yang now basically admits he should have sold to Microsoft when he had the chance and the collapse of a partnership with Google is particularly painful. With the economy now in the tank, what’s next?

BusinessWeek is all breathless about the energy that social networks brought to election day, and there are some good stories/examples here. However, listen to NPR’s story on turnout levels for a more sobering view. Turnout was good for the US, but we still lag far behind other democracies.

Privacy advocates may blanch, but I think this is a totally cool way to mine patterns from search behavior that contributes to the common good. What an innovative idea!

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