What Marketers Want

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post titled, The Start of Something Bigger? It came on the heels of Ants Eye View’s announcement that they had just joined forces with authors/consultants, Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell. Then last week white label community provider, Jive Software, announced that they had purchased listening platform, Filtrbox. All the while I watched with interest knowing that we had some big news of our own to announce in early January.

Let’s start with the news since I know that nobody likes to be left hanging. Today, I’m  proud to announce that Powered Inc is launching a full-service social media agency through the acquisition of industry leaders crayon, Drillteam and StepChange. The reason we’re so excited about this is because we feel that we are now better positioned to help brands (and their agencies) define and deliver comprehensive social media strategies that integrate with their traditional marketing mix. How shall we do this you ask? By leveraging tools and tactics such as Facebook, Twitter, blogger outreach, events, communities and mobile applications of course.

We felt like it was important to take this approach because up until now, marketers have lacked a "go to" resource that could meet all of their social needs. This does not diminish any of the smart, driven and successful other boutiques and consultancies out there that help their clients with their social initiatives but rather that none of them truly provide the end-to-end solutions necessary to meet all of a marketers needs — at least not with scale. While this may not have been a big deal in 2009 when the entire economy took a mulligan, it will be in 2010 as social media moves from experiment to mission critical. Okay, I know you’ve probably got tons of questions. I’m going to try to preemptively answer a few below but you there will also be several opportunities to join us live this week:

As for the answers, here goes…

Why didn’t Powered just develop these additional social media capabilities? We thought long and hard about the “build vs. buy” strategy, but in the end, we realized that we would dramatically increase our speed to market and add some serious talent (not to mention about 50 new brand relationships) to the Powered team by moving forward with these acquisitions.

Who are Crayon, Drillteam, StepChange?

  • Crayon brings extensive experience as a strategic social marketing consultancy to the table. They work with Fortune 1000 brands to develop strategies that positively impact customer relationships through the integration of continuous online conversations into traditional marketing programs. Crayon President Joseph Jaffe and his entire team will join Powered’s robust staff of marketers, content creators and social media leaders, with crayon and Powered immediately merging their capabilities.
  • Drillteam is an engagement marketing agency specializing in earned media.  Drillteam helps brands acquire and energize customer advocates, then sustain momentum through both offline events and online communities, and promotions on platforms like Facebook, niche blogs and Twitter.  Drillteam will retain its name and operate as a Powered company.
  • StepChange enhances a brand’s reach by extending presence into social networks and mobile platforms through Facebook development/applications, social site development, mobile/apps and Widget Ads.  StepChange will retain its name and operate as a Powered company.

Will Joseph Jaffe (Crayon) be staying on? If so, what role will he play at Powered?
Who is Joe Jaffe? Of course we’re kidding. Joe will play a big role in the new organization as “Chief Interrupter” of the group. He will continue to challenge the industry by providing prolific thought leadership, vision and guidance via his Jaffe Juice blog, podcast and TV show, keynote and panel presence at industry events and conferences, as well as his three books (Life after the 30-second spot, Join the Conversation and soon to be released, Flip the Funnel). More importantly, he will serve as a valued resource to Powered clients to “interrupt” the status quo, think through their social strategy and help conceive and flesh out unique and specific ideas and programs in the space.

Does the industry need another agency?
The industry certainly doesn’t need another agency that does the same thing as its predecessors. To be perfectly honest, we’re not exactly enamored with the idea of being called an “agency” at all. But this isn’t about us: It’s about the world’s largest, loved and important brands and what they need. Many members of our leadership team have lived, and successfully navigated through, several key advances in brand management, communication and emerging media innovation—led by the rise, fall and rise again of digital. We see the gaping void, disconnect or chasm between identification of need and the ability to fully deliver against that need. Social media is not another color on the media flow chart and it is not a subservient subset of digital either. Instead, we see social as a truly pervasive and transformational category in of itself that spans the entire marketing gamut—and even beyond it (touching P.R., customer service, R&D, innovation and customer experience). For that reason, we believe that we will be one of the first—and certainly not the last—of specialist, best in class agents that are equipped, staffed and scaled to fully execute and activate against this growing capability, skill set, need and opportunity.

What is a Social Agency?
A Social Agency or social media agency is an entity that assists companies and brands in the new world of conversational marketing. The confluence of digital, virtual and peer-to-peer networks is causing consumers to act more as a collective than ever before, and they are demanding a truly two-way conversation. We are looking to be the partner that will help brands enter and be successful in that conversation, by building a successful strategy that:

  • Connects business to social
  • Joins and manages network presence
  • Builds and manages branded communal spaces
  • Connects conversationally through mobile and physical events

The Social Media Agency is the horizontal layer that must be centrally managed but also closely integrated with all of the traditional vertical functions of marketing, such as media, interactive, PR and creativ

What
else am I missing? A lot I’m sure. But as you know, I’m pretty good at delivering updates real time through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog, etc. Oh, we’re also planning a couple of big blowouts at OMMA Social (January 26) and South by Southwest (SXSW Interactive) in mid-March.

Let’s get it on! 

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Is Your Content Good Enough For an Information Exchange? Creating Registration-Worthy Content

Yesterday I read an article from Writing on the Web about the Content Marketing Information Funnel. It applies the traditional sales funnel methodology to the specific business of selling content, and outlines simply and powerfully how to create a sales funnel for content that converts content consumers from free to fee. While I’m not in the business of creating content that consumers are willing to part with their dollars and cents for, I am all about using content to get them to part with something almost as previous: the valid contact information they have to share in order to join a community. The concept of the content sales funnel as it applies to using professional content to drive community success was intriguing to me. What content best practices does it take to convert community visitors who aren’t natural contributors from “lurkers” to registered members of the community?

Content as the Hook for Community

In the last year or two, content marketing strategies have been recognized as a valuable tool in the attraction and cultivation of community members. As Joe Pulizzi so aptly said in his 30 Content Marketing Truths for 2010 post,
 
“Without content, community is improbable, if not impossible.”
 
Of course community content can take many forms, including reviews, image and video uploads, and other user contributions, which are solid drivers of community registration. However, as Forrester’s latest Social Technographics data shows, top user content contributors (and typically top registrants) – content Creators, Collectors, and Critics – are growing very slowly in comparison to those who consume the content: Joiners and Spectators. That means you typically can’t rely on them as the sole source of content in the community. They simply won’t create enough content fast enough to satisfy the non-contributors, particularly in the early stages of the community. You need another hook to help supplement user contributions and give non-contributors a reason to register for and continue to engage with a community.
 
Enter registration-worthy professional content.
 
What’s Registration-Worthy?
 
Given that there is a lot of free content out there that requires absolutely no information exchange with a user, what do you have to do to create valuable content that makes providing a few basic tidbits of information a no-brainer for your community visitors? While ever community scenario is different, a registration-worthy content is defined by differentiation. People are usually willing to register for content if it’s different enough in one or some of these ways:
 
  • The content is created by a credible subject matter expert. For example, an online tutorial created by a well-known financial expert is of high value to anyone looking for trusted and credible information in a noisy content space. The key here is that the content must not be duplicative of other online information provided by the same expert.
  • The content provides a depth of information not typically found in other online sources. An in-depth workshop on mastering Adobe Photoshop is registration-worthy, particularly if most other online Photoshop content is in the form of tips and tricks. When a user is ready to expand their knowledge base significantly, they will happily trade data for extended information experiences.
  • The content isn’t generally available elsewhere on the Web. A personal training program based on the New England Patriots off-season workouts, a first look at a new product, and tools for managing weight loss in accordance with a specific diet are all examples of hard-to-find and high-value content that will drive registrations.
 
And these are really just three ways to differentiate content. You can also leverage existing content that is free, or outside of the registration firewall in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to:
 
  • Beef it up with additional in-depth information.
  • Make it more useful and visually compelling with informational graphics or useful interactive components.
  • Provide the core information in an alternate format like a podcast, video, or downloadable PDF.
  • Have a subject matter expert add an introduction or special tips and tricks.
 
The bottom line: As you plan for content designed to drive registrations, ask yourself honestly, “Would I trade my e-mail address for this content?”
 
The Free to Registered Funnel
 
As much as I’m a proponent of utilizing differentiated and in-depth content to drive community registration, I am also a strong believer in giving before you get. While you could require registration for all of your content, I’ve seen tons of data that shows that a mixed approach is your best bet. By offering a set of no strings attached content to users, you accomplish a couple of key things for the content and the community:
 
  1. Show by doing that you really are developing a destination that is user-centric and user-focused. This helps build their confidence in your motives and helps them look less and less for the bait and switch.
  2. Give them a taste of how great and useful your content really is, sort of a “try before you buy” approach where their valuable personal information is currency.
 
Once you’ve given the gift of great content, you’re in a position to offer up more content but this time ask for a little something in return. But just because you’ve earned the right to ask doesn’t mean you should abuse it: keep the information you collect at registration to just a couple of key data points. Over time as you continue to provide great content of all types you’ll be able to incrementally ask for more and more information. Your user-focus and patience will be rewarded.