Recommended Reading – 12/15/08

My Interview with Todd Van Hoosear

In this unedited podcast, Todd Van Hoosear and I discuss the changing role of marketing organizations in the age of conversation, the difficulties that many marketers are having making the transition and how companies can step confidently into the new era. Todd promises he’s going to clean it up and post a tighter version later, but the conversation is interesting, anyway.

How to Be a Twitter All-Star

If Twitter’s appeal still eludes you, this article has some nice perspective in plain English. Quoting:

After a while, as a Twitterer, you start to feel like you are friends with the people you follow and those who follow you

Tweets like trivia questions and giveaways get great responses, especially impressive when that approach is more often than not frowned upon in the Twittersphere.

It is necessary to have the person in the Twitter role equipped to handle news management, customer communications, to be able to write compelling tweets and be willing to be engaged at all times.

From Southwest Airline’s chief Tweeter: “We had a customer back in March who direct-messaged us that the kiosks were down in Oakland and was frustrated. I called Oakland to find out exactly what was going on and sent him a reply that there was a power outage and it would be up soon.”

On the PR bonanza that Comcast has reaped from @ComcastCares: One of the outcomes of Comcast’s efforts is that folks are now defending them. “When you build a community, you may get some negative people, but others will come back and defend you,” Comcast’s Eliason said. “Our customers see what we’re doing and stand up for us. It’s like they’re saying ‘Hey, they are trying to help. Leave them alone’ whenever someone speaks out negatively about us.” And this is one of the most attacked companies in the blogosphere! Look at how quickly you can turn negativity around. –

On Twitter, you have to be yourself. The people that do it well aren’t hiding behind a fake persona. You can’t hide. You can’t create a persona and be someone that you aren’t.

There is no more powerful way to humanize your brand.

Services To Get More Out of Twitter

Here’s a nice roundup of Twitter-related services that can help you organize and filter conversations.

Forrester: Consumers Don’t Trust Corporate Blogs

Back in October, I looked at the 20 major corporate blogs to see what they were saying about the Wall Street meltdown and saw that they were nearly silent on the matter. Corporate America still just doesn’t get social media. Not surprisingly, Forrester finds that corporate blogs lack credibility. Josh Bernoff discusses the research and the implications. Quoting:

According to a new Forrester Research report, only 16% of people surveyed say they trust corporate blogs. That makes them the lowest-rated source of reliable information among 18 categories Forrester asked about including Web portals, print newspapers, radio and personal blogs.

Instead, companies should shift the focus back to consumers. That means using a blog to address customers’ problems, foster an online community, involve employees outside of corporate communications, and provide an authentic voice to discuss internal company tidbits and to respond to critics.

Since much of the outrage over the Motrin ads arose on Twitter, he added that companies should use the mini-blogging site to respond rapidly to spiraling publicity problems and to draw attention to relevant posts on the company’s main blog.

Intel Social Media Guidelines

This set of Intel guidelines for social media usage could serve as a manual for any company that wants to get the most out of new media channels. It’s a quick, soup-to-nuts guide to best practices.

Amazon Invades Retail Stores

The Internet retailer has debuted a nifty iPhone application that makes it possible for people to place an Amazon order for products that they see in a retail store. Shoppers can snap a photo with their cell phone and upload it to Amazon where the image is matched with the corresponding product in Amazon’s inventory. The cell phone user is then offered an option to place an order in the online store. Currently, the service is backed by a low tech team of participants in Amazon’s Mechanical Turk program. In the future, Amazon hopes to apply image recognition technology to automate the process.

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