Why Websites Don’t Matter

By now, most companies have got a pretty good handle on what happens on their website.  At the very least, they use a tool like Google Analytics or the simple and easy StatCounter to track total visits, referring URLs, visitor paths and time-spent-on-site.  It’s intriguing and fun to see where people are coming from and what they’re doing.  It’s also increasingly irrelevant.

The website as we know it is becoming a relic of the first 15 years of the Internet.  Sure, websites will always be important, but the action that takes place around a company, brand or individual is moving into a complex web of stateless conversations.  Some of these take place on corporate websites, but many of them don’t.  Consider Facebook, whose 200 million members are the world’s largest ready-made audience.  Some brands have more active communities of customers on Facebook than they do on their own websites.  In fact, their own websites may not even enable community at all.  Perception of their brand is defined in a community that they host but can’t control.


Our personal activities now take place in many locations.  Look at Twitter, for example.  While there’s a Twitter website, conversations take place in the ether. People who use TweetDeck, Twhirl, TwInbox or one of the other dedicated Twitter clients may never visit the Twitter website. In fact, the Twitter feed may easily be displayed on any website you like.

Steve Rubel, a public relations social media visionary whom I profiled in New Influencers, recently announced that he’s abandoning his blog in favor of a lifestream. Steve is at the extreme edge of social media activity, so his experience isn’t typical, but I think his point bears considering.  He’s saying that the action now takes place in so many nooks and crannies of the Internet that a website is, at best, a place to pull them all together.  Our own activities are too expansive to be confined to one place.

This presents some immediate problems.  It seems that just as we’ve succeeded in getting a pretty good handle on what happens on our websites, the action has moved elsewhere.  In many cases, we have no insight into what’s happening there. Facebook, for example, offers only rudimentary reporting on activity within its profiles and forims. There is simply no way to determine how many people have seen a message on Twitter. Sites like Flickr, YouTube or SlideShare can tell you how many people have watched your presentation or video but not where they came from or how long they spent there. Our window on online activity around our brand is actually becoming more opaque with time.

Not Dead Yet

Does this mean websites are dead? No, but they are changing. The website’s role will increasingly be to present a persons or organization’s view of things in hopes of enticing conversations back to that controllable and measurable forum.  It will be the home base for everything we do online, kind of our own organizational lifestream. But marketers must face the new reality that online success has many faces, even if we can’t measure all of them very well.

This also means that businesses should take a new look at hosting their own communities.  Facebook is training wheels for the bigger goal of building branded communities that become the primary destination for customers and business partners.  If you can build and measure those, you can gain a lot more insight about what motivates customers.  If you can’t, well, try to send people back to your trusty old website for your point of view.

Recommended Reading, 7/8/09

Four useful tools for social networkers

David Strom reviews four online services that increase the productivity of active contributors to social media.

Beware Social Media Marketing Myths – BusinessWeek

CPA Gene Marks throws a big bucket of cold water or what he calls social media marketing myths.  Social media is neither free nor cheap, he says, and the customers you want to reach probably aren’t hanging out on k Faceboowaiting to hear from you.  If there is action in social network land, it’s probably in the boring advisory sites that help people to run their businesses better. I think he’s mostly right

Pepsi Sees a Chance to Fill Newspapers’ Void

The soft drink company actually paid to have bloggers “cover” a recent trade show and its online marketing programs increasingly look like publishing.  Perhaps Pepsi sees something that a lot of people haven’t yet: the rapid decline of big media is creating a trust gap into which commercial companies can step.  Sure its unconventional, but they give Pepsi credit for not just following the herd.

The One Word You Can’t Say: Campaign

Campaigns have distinct endpoints, while conversations may last for years.  That’s one reason conversational marketing is so difficult for many marketers to internalize.  An advertising campaign may run its course in 13 weeks, but a social media conversation is just getting rolling by then.  Marketers need to twist their thinking a little differently to accept this change in approach.

How to Get a Professional Corporate Blogging Job

Yehuda Berlinger is that rarest of corporate marketers: a professional business blogger.  In this extensive how-to article, he describes the unique characteristics of a business blogging job and offers some ideas on how to land such a position.  There still aren’t many job titles like that out there, but if you’re trying to get one, you could do worse than turn to this article for advice.

Recommended Reading, 2/12/09

How Not to be a Key Online Influencer

David Henderson tells a jaw-dropping story of how a PR executive shot himself in the foot with a Twitter message that insulted a big client. This is a public forum, people.

Sephora Helps Selection Process With Mobile User Reviews

The beauty products retailer has had success with user reviews on its website, so now it’s going mobile. In-store promotions encourage shoppers to access the website for customer ratings of products on the shelves in front of them. Amazon is also testing a service that enables shoppers to snap photos of merchandise in retail stores and quickly order them on Amazon. The lines between physical and virtual shopping continue to blur.

This Contest Blows

Smule has the winners of a video contest it calls “This Contest Blows.” Entrants were asked to demonstrate their facility with the first software application that turns the iPhone into a musical instrument. There were many creative submissions and some true virtuosity. Winners got a $1,000 prize.

A Toolset for Learning 2009

Here’s a nice list of the latest and most popular software tools that can be applied to education. Some are well known (PowerPoint), but the author also offers alternatives that offer specialized features or are free.

The Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Handbook: The Most Egregious Sins on Social Media Sites, Exposed

Tamar Weinberg has a terrific list of sins to avoid on social networks, blogs, YouTube, Twitter and other services. Bottom line: be genuine, not promotional. Deliver useful information and never steal, conceal, spam or flame. More than 200 comments and pingbacks.

How to Embed Almost Anything in your Website

Cool and comprehensive list of tools and techniques for adding all kinds of gadgets, widgets, players and feeds to a website.

B-to-B Social Media in Action

From my weekly newsletter. To subscribe, just fill out the short form to the right.

Let’s look at three examples of companies that are using social media for business-to-business(b-to-b) applications. All us different tools and all are effective in different ways.


Wikibon.org is the kind of Web 2.0 project that could disrupt a big industry. It was started two years ago by David Vellante, a veteran IT analyst who used to run the largest division of International Data Corp. Wikibon challenges an IT research model that has traditionally had customers paying tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for access to elite analysts.  Traditional IT research is top-down.  Wikibon is bottoms-up.

Think of it as open source advice.  The more than 3,000 people who have joined Wikibon’s enterprise storage community share their expertise with each other and learn from a core group of about 40 independent consultants and experts who use the wiki to showcase their services. It’s a classic Web 2.0 give-to-get formula.  The experts share their knowledge in hopes of getting business from the corporate IT specialists who visit the site.  Before Wikibon, these experts had severely limited promotional channels. With Wikibon, they have an established community of prequalified business prospects.

Members have contributed 20,000 articles and edits to the archive, Vellante told me. What’s more, the time people spend browsing this rich information resource is “Facebook-like. We’re getting 20 to 30 page views per visitor.” Wikibon may not put Gartner out of business, but it is a challenging the assumption that good information has to be expensive and it’s giving some small b-to-b firms a way to reach an ideal prospect base.


If you’ve ever done business on eBay, you know that its peer rating system is one of its great innovations. RatePoint is one of an emerging class of companies that is bringing this concept to the open Web, and GoGreenSolar is using customer reviews to its advantage. If you are interested in Solar Energy, then I would recommend going to SandbarSolar.com to see what they can do for you.

GoGreenSolar is a small Los Angeles-based firm that sells green energy products.  About 60% of its business is b-to-b. A few months ago, the company contracted with  RatePoint to install a customer ratings page on its website at a cost of $18/month. RatePoint acts as a kind of validation service, verifying that customer reviews haven’t been tampered with and providing a means to arbitrate disputes.  GoGreenSolar has about 20 reviews on this site, all but one of them five stars. The ratings pages quickly became one of the site’s most popular features, says founder Deep Patel. In an increasingly competitive industry where customer service is a differentiator, the ratings are helping GoGreenSolar stand out.

Patel says one of the hidden values of the ratings program is the opportunity for follow-up engagement with customers.  By encouraging buyers to post their comments, “We have an opportunity to have a dialog after the transaction. That’s a sales opportunity,” he says. “People who leave reviews often come back and buy more.”

Though GoGreenSolar hasn’t had many negative reviews to worry about, Patel even sees opportunity in the occasional dissatisfied customer.  The rating system is an opportunity to fix the problem and turn the customer into a source of repeat business, he said.

Emerson Process Management

You probably aren’t going to stop by the Emerson Process Experts blog for a casual read. Here’s a clip from a recent entry: “The valve supplier typically supplies the safety valve torque requirements and required leakage rates. The actuator supplier provides the torque-to-supply pressure tables. The good news for those of us a little rusty in our advanced math skills is that the equations are algebraic and the simplifying assumptions err to the side of conservative volume sizing..”

Did your eyes glaze over? This tech talks would baffle the typical visitor, but it’s music to the ears of the plant engineers and process control experts who regularly visit the blog  started three years ago by Jim Cahill (left), marketing communications manager for Emerson’s Process Systems and Solutions business. It’s one of my favorite examples of good b-to-b blogging.

Emerson Process Experts is superbly focused; it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a technical resource to a small but very important audience.  Cahill is fluent in the language of the industry, but he’s also a good writer who organizes and expresses his thoughts clearly.

What’s the benefit to Emerson?  The company has become a trusted source of advice to customers and prospects. Its plentiful links to other sources of information ingratiates the company with publishers.  And 190 inbound links haven’t hurt its search performance:  Emerson is the number one commercial link on Google for the terms “process management” and “process control.”

New Conversation Monitoring Service is Free During Test Phase

If you’ve been itching to try out one of those conversation monitoring services – the ones that tap into millions of blogs and discussion groups and pick out mentions of your company – you now have a chance to try one for free. BuzzGain is an online service for identifying chatter on blogs, photo-sharing services, video services, Twitter and traditional media. It’s co-founded by Brian Solis, a PR guy who’s very savvy about new media. According to the pitch I received, this test isn’t open to the general public: “They’re launching BuzzGain in the true spirit of public beta…They want to listen to and learn…While it’s in Beta, it will be free for everyone.”

Ethics and the $500 Gift Card

chris_broganSuper-blogger Chris Brogan has been embroiled in a debate over paid blogging that raises important issues about not just blogger credibility but the changing mechanics of trust in a democratized media world.

A recap: Brogan was one of a handful of bloggers targeted by Kmart in an unusual holiday promotion. The bloggers were each sent a $500 gift card to spend at Kmart with the request that they write about their experiences.  They were also asked to invite their readers to enter a contest to win a comparable giveaway.

Brogan did as asked. He was favorably surprised by the changes he found. However, he also identifed some shortcomings, such as messy shelves and limited selection, that he commented upon.  He disclosed prominently that this was a paid promotion.

Disclosure apparently wasn’t enough for some critics, who charged Brogan with selling his credibility for a gift card.  A vigorous discussion on Twitter debated the ethics of his decision to accept the incentive and of Kmart and partner Izea to stage it.  Brogan posted a detailed and thoughtful defense over the weekend, and prominent bloggers like Jeremiah Owyang have acknowledged that this is hardly a black-and-white case.

They’re right about that.  This case is about nothing less than the challenge of determining credibility in the media world that is being ripped apart at the seams.  For many years, we’ve had the luxury of taking for granted that media organizations could fund consumer advocacy reporters to act in our interests.  With the ongoing crisis in print media now spreading into the broadcast world, it’s clear that this kind of reporting will begin to fade.  It will be up to the emerging class of new influencers to figure out the rules.

In mainstream media, the standards were clear, at least in the US. Organizations like the American Society of Magazine Editors maintain suggested ethical guidelines that are broadly observed. However, there are no governing standards organizations or regulations, and professional journalists have to make their own choices about what is right. These decisions often enter a gray zone.

During my days in mainstream media, offers constantly came in from vendors and economic development organizations that exceeded in value our $25 or $50 limit on gifts. It was rarely a simple decision whether to accept these offers. For example, I once returned a lavish food basket sent to me as a congratulatory gift by a leading software company. My benefactors were so offended by my action that they never treated me the same way again.  It would have been better for everyone if I had simply accepted the gift and distributed it around the office. That’s a case where doing the ethical thing didn’t really help anyone.

Of even bigger concern were the trips.  Government economic development agencies frequently dangled all-expense-paid tours of their countries as an incentive to generate coverage.  I only went on one of these excursions — back in 1984 — and it was clear that I was no less virtuous than my competitors, who also came out in force (in reality, the trip was rather grueling and not much fun).

To compound this complexity, different cultures have different rules. For example, European media organizations had few ethical problems with these junkets.  In fact, vendor marketers have told me in the past that the only way to convince European journalists to cover their events was to pay all expenses. I don’t know if that’s still the case.

Making it Up

There are no broadly accepted standards in the blogosphere, so the community is making them up as they go along.  For the most part, it’s doing a fantastic job.  In fact, the debate over the Brogan incident testifies to the high ethical standards that bloggers are embracing. Mainstream media could learn from this.

It’s important that this debate be heard, because the collapse of our media institutions will increasingly leave influence in the hands of individuals whose biases and motivations are unknown.  I know Chris Brogan personally, and his integrity is beyond question.  In fact, I’d argue that someone in his position can’t afford to be anything but genuine.  He has one of the largest followings of any blogger on earth, and it would be foolhardy for him to violate the trust they place in him for a few hundred dollars’ worth of graft.

But for less prominent bloggers, the distinctions aren’t so clear.  With media institutions crumbling, the onus is shifting to the consumer to exercise healthy suspicion about their information sources.  They must increasingly put their trust in people, not institutions, and this makes things more complex.

Track Records

In my view, the two most important criteria for judging credibility are track record and disclosure.  A respected blogger is no less a brand than a respected media institution. In both cases, I give the benefit of the doubt to someone who has demonstrated over time that her word can be trusted.

Disclosure is the baseline for credibility.  Anyone who attempts to influence opinion without disclosing potential conflicts of interest is doing a disservice to himself and his community.  Had Brogan not disclosed prominently his financial relationship with Kmart, it would have cost him some of my trust.  The fact that he did so, combined with his track record, gives me complete faith in the integrity of his opinions.

Businesses will increasingly use creative incentives in the future to gain the visibility they are losing with the decline of mainstream media.  We’re out of our comfort zone and we will have to invent new standards of accountability.  Perhaps an organization will come up with a rating system of some kind, but I think it’s more likely that we will figure these things out communally.  Word-of-mouth has a remarkable power to identify credible sources.

Chris Brogan deserves our thanks for taking the heat and for responding so constructively.  His critics deserve our thanks for raising the issue in the first place.

'Tis the Season For Predictions

Here are summaries of a couple of social media-related forecast stories that have come across my screen recently.

Eight Experts Predict How Web 2.0 Will Evolve In 2009

You won’t find a lot of big surprises here, but there’s good solid consensus on some driving trends.

  • One is that there will be a strong move toward federated identity that gives control of the user’s data back to the user. It’s ridiculous that people have to create 20 different profiles for 20 different social networks. We should be in charge of our own data and decide how to share it with others.
  • Another theme is that mobile devices will become more location-aware, meaning that applications will deliver targeted results based upon where the user is standing. There’s also general agreement that the Web 2.0 industry is ripe for consolidation. That’s true, but what I believe will be surprising is how minor that consolidation will be, particularly compared to the great dot-com collapse of 2001-2002. Many of today’s successful networks run on a shoestring and will be able to weather the economic storm because their operating costs are so low.
  • One seer from Google’s mapping operations also sees the rise of “collaborative mapping,” in which people working together with friends and colleagues build shared maps of places they care about.

Experts’ predictions for 2009

iMedia Connection asks six marketing and advertising executives about their predictions for 2009. While there aren’t many surprises, some of the panelists’ views are notably well stated. Highlights:

  • Investment and commercial banks left standing will turn to the internet to engage consumers in conversations about trust.
  • Marketers will start to look at the social networking opportunity as a way to extend utility and functionality with their brand attached to it…This means giving people tools to use rather than just throwing a message in their faces.
  • “Traditional” media companies have been actively incorporating social media into their online offerings for years and finding that it leads to greater levels of consumer involvement with content. The result is that, on places such as ESPN.com, BusinessWeek.com, the HealthCentral Network or iVillage, marketers can reap the benefits of the dynamic social media experience, while doing so in a safe, high-quality environment.
  • In 2009, expect to see closed caption technology being used to understand the content of the video clip and that content being matched with relevant advertising on a keyword basis.

Tonight’s Full Moon is Brightest Possible

Tonight the world will witness the brightest full moon ever: about 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than the other full moons this year. This is because the moon is much closer to the earth than usual. The moon comes closest to the earth during its perigee, but this year the actual distance from the planet will be shorter than usual.

FAQ, Part Deux

I’ve recently conducted a couple of online seminars about social media topics. The Q&A sessions at these events are almost always too short to get to the issues that are on people’s minds. So over the next few issues of this newsletter, I’ll run down a few of the best questions I didn’t get to. For a good, free webcast on this topic, check out the recent event sponsored by Listrak.

To subscribe to my weekly newsletter, just fill out the short form to the right.

Q: What can millennials best teach us about social networking?

A: How to infuse it into everyday life. There’s a myth about millennials that the group is completely tuned in to the use of social media tools. In fact, I find that most young people are active users of Facebook, instant messaging and text messaging, but not much else. They don’t blog, rarely listen to podcasts and don’t use Twitter. What’s more, they don’t have much perspective on the value of these tools beyond their usefulness in everyday life. They’ll learn those things through experience and training, just like everyone else. But they’re not really as social media-savvy as they’re often given credit for.

What they are exceptionally good at doing it is managing relationships online. They don’t have any more close friends than their parents did at the same age, but they have a much larger number of casual acquaintances that they keep alive through occasional and indirect communication. I think that’s something we can all learn from.

Q: Have you found that social media outlets are used by particular age demographics or does it apply to all age ranges?

A: Nearly all age groups use a media, though there are variations. If you want to go into detail, get Groundswell by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li. Their top-line observations are that the most active users are the under-25 group, but that usage is quite consistent between 25-and 55-year olds. It drops off rather sharply after that. However, there are significant variations by media and industry. For example, under-25s are more inclined to use instant messaging, text messaging and online video while podcasting and blogging are more popular with older age groups. It’s also interesting that the percentage of people under 25 who prefer instant messaging over e-mail is nearly the exact inverse of people over 25.

Q: How does the Google “Link:” command work?

A: In the Google search bar, type “link:www.gillin.com” substituting whatever URL you want. You can also access this command from Google’s advanced search page. This will give you a list of all webpages in Google’s search index that link to the specified domain or page.

Q: What’s the best way to convert your audience to make an actual purchase using social media?

A: There are many ways to do this, so I’ll give you an example of a direct and an indirect approach.  A direct approach might be to offer a discount coupon to people who join your social network, fill out a form or respond to a contest. Or you might ask people to view a short video to get an access code that they could redeem on a website.  The coupon could be delivered electronically as a thank-you message when visitors submit the form.

And indirect approach might be to set up an informational blog that educates visitors about your company or your area of expertise.  You can then surround this educational content with promotions or offers.

General Mills' Pssst… is a Weak Stab at Branded Community

I just signed up for General Mills’ Pssst… membership club because I was interested in seeing how a big consumer products company assimilates all that we’ve learned about online communities and applies it to a super-brand site (plus, I love Lucky Charms!). It’s still early, but this site is off to a very weak start.

Pssst… is intended to bring fans of General Mills products closer to the company by inviting them into a members-only space where they can receive inside information, get coupons and samples and share their opinions about the company’s products. This is all the stuff that I preach organizations should do with branded communities. The site is produced in collaboration with GlobalPark, a company that manages online panels.

Pssst… is good in concept but bad in execution. I would not have launched the site in its current condition:

  • The “My Profile” section contains nothing more than a mailing address. That is not a profile; it is a contact form.
  • There are six “activities” listed on the “My Home” page. Two of them link to press releases. The other two  are invitations to download JPG images of General Mills products to display on your blog. The Yoplait image is nearly 1MB in size, which is a problem for people with low-bandwidth ISP accounts. I can’t publish it at full size because it would blow up my blog template, but click on the image above to see the downloaded image in all its glory. Why would General Mills want to deliver something this unwieldy? Also, the images have no added value. There are no links to coupons, no news, no games, nothing beyond a picture of a yogurt carton. Why would I embed that in my blog?
  • The last two activities are invitations to mail coupons to friends. The landing page has 18 boxes with spaces for nine friends’ names and e-mail addresses. You can personalize the message to all the names you enter, but not to an individual recipient. By using this page, you’re basically volunteering your friends for General Mills’ direct mail list. This feature would also appear to conflict with the site’s stated privacy policy that “we do not send unsolicited commercial emails.” There is nothing in the privacy policy that speaks to what happens to friends’ e-mail addresses after they are captured for the coupon promotion.
  • Also, it appears that the only way members can get coupons is to e-mail them to themselves. This would conflict with my advice that companies treat these branded destination as “clubs.” There is nothing in this club for me.
  • Finally, a prominent banner at the bottom of the home page reads “Want to start your own blog? Click here to find out how!” It links to the Blogger home page. Why is this even here? Why would General Mills want one of the most visible links on the home page to take the visitor off-site? Wouldn’t this be a nice opportunity to give people a blog within a branded General Mills space?

There are other small annoyances. There is no navigation on the activity pages. The most visible link in the navigation bar is “cancel membership.” Most of the real estate on the pages is wasted.

In sum, Pssst… is a disappointing first effort from a company that should know better.


I’ve recently conducted a couple of online seminars about social media topics. The Q&A sessions at these events are almost always too short to get to the issues that are on people’s minds. So over the next few issues of this newsletter, I’ll run down a few of the best questions I didn’t get to. For a good, free webcast on this topic, check out the recent event sponsored by Listrak.

To subscribe to my weekly newsletter, just fill out the short form to the right.

Q: What is the best way to find blogs that are applicable to your business?

A: I have half-day seminars that address this question, but I’ll try to be succinct! First of all, remember that a blog is simply a way to display information.  There is no industry standard definition of a blog, so the only way to identify one is by looking at it.  Even the search engines that specialize in blog search don’t always get it right.

That said, you should start with search.  The blog search tools I use are Google Blog Search, Technorati, IceRocket, Bloglines and Blogpulse. There are others, but I’m less familiar with them. Tip: Use advanced search; it will save you time and better refine your results.

When you find bloggers who look important to you, look in their blogrolls, which are lists of other bloggers that they pay attention to. Blogrolls can usually be found on the home page.  This can save you a lot of time because the bloggers have already done the searching for you.

I also recommend searching social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Reddit. People share and comment upon favorite bookmarked pages there. Very often you’ll find sites on social bookmarking services that don’t show up prominently in search engines.

Q: Can you review the different social media for different communication goals?

A: Chapter 2 of my latest book, Secrets of Social Media Marketing, goes into quite a bit of detail about this, but here’s a synopsis:

Blogs: Easy, fast and flexible. Think of them as a podium. You’re the speaker and you can say your peace and invite commentary. Blogs are good for telling a story, but not very good for interaction or conversation.

Podcasts: These are basically audio blogs. They’re very good for communicating a message but have almost zero interactivity. Podcasts are very popular with busy executives who like the efficiency of being able to learn when they can’t read. They’re basically a one-way medium, however.

Video podcasts: Good for telling a story visually, but people tire of them quickly if the content isn’t compelling. Video podcasts are excellent vehicles for humor or offbeat content. They have almost no interactivity. Think of them as TV commercials that viewers can easily share with each other.

Social networks: These are great places to listen to ongoing conversations and to gain insight on customers and markets. You can also use them to pose general questions about you market. Don’t be too specific, though; social networks are public forums. Popular topics can yield insight into new product possibilities.

Private Communities (for example, Communispace and Passenger): These are next-generation focus groups. Usually run by firms that specialize in community management, the members are hand-selected, carefully nurtured and often bound by confidentiality agreements. Private communities are a great way to get advice from a lot of perspectives in a hurry. The downside: high cost

Microblogs (for example, Twitter and a host of others): Very fast, targeted and responsive, they’re a great way to ask questions and get quick answers or to promote a timely idea or service. Interactivity is excellent, but content is limited to short messages and it’s difficult to integrate multimedia.

Virtual worlds (for example, Second Life and others): These venues may be good for real-time events, but the software is still too clunky for most people to use. Virtual worlds fare best with techie audiences. They’re unique in that you can observe group dynamics, such as facial expressions and body language. They’re also good for events with a strong visual component.

Q: We run a lodging resort and saw negative comments someone had posted about their experience here on their blog. How do you turn a negative blogger into a positive blogger?

A: The tactics that work in the physical world also work online: invite feedback, listen, confirm what you heard and offer some kind of relief or explanation.  In 80% to 90% of these situations, the naysayers can be neutralized or even turned into advocates with these tactics.  Since bloggers can’t see their audience, they tend to write in strong terms, sort of like shouting into the wilderness.  Once you personalize the interaction, they usually back down.  Start by commenting on the blog and also by sending a private e-mail.  It may even be worth picking up the phone.  The more you humanize the interaction, the quicker you’ll bring them around.

Why Marketers Should Think Like Publishers

Hubspot just posted an interview with me about Why Marketers Should ‘Think Like Publishers’. I think this is a crucial barrier for many marketers, who have been taught to think of themselves as media influencers. While that role is still important, today marketers can actually become the media if they so choose. But that requires that they think differently about how they present information and target their audiences. I have some thoughts about that in the interview.

Thanks to HubSpot for the opportunity to voice these views. Hubspot has pioneered the concept of “inbound marketing,” in which the goal is to present compelling content that attracts visitors to a business rather than spewing messages at people. The company’s business has tripled in the last year, indicating that there are still opportunities for growth in this challenging economy.