May 29, 2008

NonProfits Can Benefit from Social Media, Just Ask Mara Triangle

By Li Evans

Elephant at Mara Triangle, KenyaSometimes as global audiences we get inundated with "causes" that we ignore those "Donate" buttons because we see them over and over again.  Unfortunately for Non-Profits, the offline blindness they have to overcome has now really become the same issues online.  What's worse is that some of these non-profits are getting bad advice about just starting up websites and "they will come".  I'm sorry to break this to the non-profits, just building a static website anymore - won't cut it.

Today I stumbled across the story of the Mara Triangle thanks to Twitter's blog (see even when they are down, they are still good for something!).  What's the Mara Triangle you ask?  Well, it's a wildlife park in Kenya which under the management of the Mara Conservancy helps to protect the wildlife from poachers.  Poachers are one of the biggest threats to the wildlife in this area, and with the conservancy in place, they are able to employ rangers to help protect the animals from these poachers.

Up until last year, none of these rangers had likely even touched a computer.  Up until last year, the park solely ran off of the entrance fees to the park.  Up until last year, Kenya as a country was pretty stable. 

That all changed until this year's election when political unrest erupted and put the entire tourism industry in Kenya into complete and utter chaos.  With no one coming to visit Kenya or the Mara Triangle, funds started to run out, fast. 

Enter William Deed, prior to helping the Mara Conservancy, he lead what he pretty much terms as a "bored with his lot" life and started his own blog about Waiting in Line.  That caught the eye of famed Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey and his son-in-law, Emmanuel De Merode who run Wildlife Direct.  They tasked William with building blogs and getting the word out about the different wildlife projects under Wildlife Direct.

Giraffes at Mara Triangle in KenyaIn February Mara Triangle's blog launched.  It was a slow build, but through word of mouth, news of this blog and what the rangers were doing started to spread.  The blog's chief contributer is Joseph Kimojino a ranger in the park.  He blogs just about every day, which is an amazing feat when you learn that he just click a mouse for the first time back in November.

What makes this story even more compelling?  Joseph isn't just blogging!  Joseph tweets on Twitter, he uploads photos just about everyday to Flickr, he loads videos to Vimeo and even helps to maintain the Facebook cause.

Likely though what caught the eye of Wired magazine is the use of Twitter.  It's also what caught my eye, and got me to click around and just be really amazed and excited.  There use of many different parts of social media just impressed me and made my jaw drop - photos like their's usually tend to do that.  I felt compelled enough by the story they conveyed to give a monthly donation.

Social media when used in the right way can convey compelling stories.  Whether its a blog, photos or even videos, social media allows emotions to be conveyed in ways no piece of paper or static website can.  Combining these powerful tools together can result in truly wonderful stories people just feel compelled to take up a cause for (or even buy a product or service).

Are you telling your non-profit's story in a compelling way?  Does your story touch your audience in a way like the Mara Triangle did me?

May 22, 2008

What American Idol Can Teach You About Marketing

By Li Evans

American_idol_top_3_season_7 I'm not an American Idol watcher.  But as a marketer, and one who loves social media and word of mouth marketing, there's nothing greater than seeing this powerhouse show in action.  Some of the time, the "Wisdom of the Crowds" works out, sometimes it does not.  Sometimes the crowds are with the judges and sometimes, the judges are just so way off base (and I'm not talking about Paula's weird & wacky actions).

This year was the first year I have actually not seen one episode of American Idol.  Usually I at least watch the first few episodes that feature the rather "quirky" performance, hey they turned out William Hung, so it can't be that bad, right? It's it's not unusual that William Hung's awful talents grab the nation by storm, he had a story, his story was "hey I gave it my best shot" and "thank you".  Two things that seem so rare on the entertainment world.

David Cook was this year's American Idol winner.  Interesting thing about it this year was that all three judges (that'd be Scowling Simon, Ever-So-Cool Randy and Whacky Paula ) the night before pretty much were crowning David Archuletta as the winner.  However, the crowds had a lot to say, 97 million votes later David Cook's story and talents appealed to the masses more than his 17 year old competitor's.

The thing that makes American Idol such a powerhouse, and such a "sensation" year after year, is that it's good at telling stories.  So good that sometimes it's the stories behind the contestants that propel the winner into the top categories, or even to fame if they don't win.  Sometimes those stories help the contestant win the hearts of their local audiences, too, as in the case of Temptress Browne of Philladelphia.

Continue reading "What American Idol Can Teach You About Marketing" »

May 15, 2008

Trolls or Upset Customers? Do You Know the Difference

By Li Evans

Fairytaletroll Shining a bright light on a troll isn't always the wisest thing to do (especially when they are certifiably crazy, or have had issues in the past).  You have to be careful because sometimes they will steal your goat, or steal your baby (as those old fairy tales would tell us) or they will flame you in a community or even write nasty blog posts about you, your product or service.  Trolls do that because they have a limited scope of view, most only see the world through their own tunnel vision of how they demand the world to work. 

Then you have customers, customers who are vocal, and customers who are passionate.  These customers aren't certifiable, they are normal everyday people who've been wronged in some way or some form by your company, your employees or maybe your product or service.  At times, their passion can be mistaken for something that's "troll like", but if you take the time to look, you'll definitely see the difference 

How do you tell the difference between the Troll and the Upset Customer?  I've been asked this by many clients stepping into this new online world that includes social media and search marketing.  With fears of negative comments, blog posts or being flamed in a community, understanding the difference between a passionate (but upset) customer and a troll can mean a huge difference in time spent on resources to defend accusations and opportunities to turn a focused detractor into a passionate advocate.

Here's a few tips to tell the difference:

  • Look at their past conversations in the community.  Does the person seem to contribute in a conversation?  Have they asked sensible questions in the past, and have the participated in a manner that shows there's the ability for a normal conversation?  If so, you likely just have a passionate customer on your hands.

  • Are their past conversations on the community are consistently accusatory of other members of the community?  Are their past conversations seemingly self centered, or focused just on one thing?  If someone disagrees with their point of views and they claim "hurt" right away?  This is really "Troll Like" actions, so be forewarned, you're most likely dealing with a troll.

  • Take a look at the person's blog.  Do they constantly seem to invoke drama?  Do they announce that they are leaving their blog, and then few hours or days later they announce their triumphant return and apologize for the drama?  Do they flame others and then take down the posts?  Do they lambaste people in their comments who disagree with them?   You are most likely dealing with a troll in this case.

  • If you look at the blog and it seems like the blog is engaging in great conversation.  Informative posts, interesting opinions and great conversation in the comments, this is when you'll want to stand up and take notice if they are writing a post about you that isn't so nice.  You've got a passionate customer on your hands.  Take the time to notice they've taken the time to write about their experience and engage this person in professional manner to help resolve the situation.  You could turn that angry customer into a passionate brand evangelist.

  • Look around the communities to see if this person who's speaking "ill" of you does the same things on each community.  Are they constantly crying "foul".  Do they have inappropriate conversations on professional marketing channels?  Do they stir up drama wherever they go on the social media sites?  Do they seem like attention hounds on the sites?  If you can answer yes, then you've likely got a Troll on your hands.  They feed on the attention of inappropriate comments on Twitter can get them, or the constant change of relationship status on Facebook garners them.  Don't waste your time on feeding the Troll.

  • If the person engages in normal conversations on the various social networks and communities, leaves normal comments, or updates at what seems like a normal rate on Facebook and then all of a sudden now starts chatting up how bad their experience was with your brand, you might want to pay attention to this person.  This is a passionate customer and you've got an opportunity to fix the wrong.

Trolls are time and resource wasters, really you should just leave them under the dark bridges where they live.  Knowing how to spot them can not only help your bottom line, but can also allow you to spend more time focused on helping those customers who've truly been wronged by an experience with your brand, product or service.  Customer Evangelists are what every company wishes for, all you have to do is listen for the opportunity to create one!

* Illustration Credit (Troll under bridge):  Mitchell Cotie

April 30, 2008

Twittering For Charity

By Li Evans

Matt McGeeEveryone who hangs around me or follows me on Twitter, knows I love to razz Matt McGee about not being on Twitter.  I actually find it kind of fun, because I know he follows who twitters his name.  He and Jeff Quipp of Search Engine People are battling to be the last person on Twitter.

Well, that all ends today.  Yes, both Jeff & Matt have succumbed to the pull of Twitter!

Now, it's just not any reason they are doing this.  It's all for charity.  So, which ever one of them gets to 500 followers first, the money Jeff and Matt have put on the line - both $250, will go to their favorite charity.  (Little do they know 500 might be a piece of cake after we're all done!)

I'm going to go with this too - who ever wins, I'll chip in $50 bucks too

How about you Twitterland, will you Twitter for charity too?

April 23, 2008

Building Communities in Social Media

By Li Evans

Wendy Piersall started her blog as a hobby, the blog was an extension of her business, a tool to compliment it.  Within three months, Wendy’s eMom's at Home blog became its own full time job.  She had to rethink her strategy about the business.  Within 2 years Wendy had a thriving community on her hands, with thousands of readers and subscribers. How did this happen?


Communities thrive on it, we humans crave it.  Unless you are a hermit or a person on a religious quest that requires seclusion and not speaking, we seek out human interaction.  We want to hear other people’s thoughts, we long for interaction to know if our own thoughts are in line with common thinking or if we are out of line, or are we rebels (with or without a cause).

Communities are nothing new.  Communities bond upon a single or a few commonalities.  It was how this nation (the United States) was formed, a common bond of the wish to have freedom of religion.  Later on for immigrants coming through Ellis Island, the bond was the dream of a better life.  It is no different even with all of our gadgets, speed and technologies, we as humans still need to bond, and it is why we seek out communities online.

Wendy’s community grew and thrived because she fostered a great conversation.  She listened and she also conversed with her audience – she never spoke "at" them.  She constantly listened and she participated in the conversation, always keeping in mind “what would her audience get” from each conversation she would invoke with her blog posts.

Wendy was also wise enough to realize the conversation wasn’t just going on, on her blog.  There were other blogs out there having similar conversations that she felt helped or contributed to the conversation.  Wendy wisely not only sought them out and commented about on their blogs she included them in her own conversation as well.  By doing this,  she was eventually pulling in their audiences to participate in the conversation.

Now a little over 2 years later, realizing that what started out as her “hobby” has grown into this enormous community and her original thoughts for the blog my limit the potential for the conversations growth, Wendy reached out to her community.  Wendy asked and the community overwhelming responded and now eMoms at Home is opening to an even wider community by becoming SparkPlugging, focusing on the entrepreneurial community.  Wendy's own blog is getting renamed to Sparkplug CEO, as well.

When you recognize that a conversation is happening and you embrace it and foster it, a community can grow around that conversation.  Hard sells, preaching a message, and advertorials just don’t work, those methods do not foster and grow communities.   You really have to have a love, a passion for your conversation, you have to care about it, if it is going to even have any shot at succeeding in this new online social world. 

It’s why companies who really do care about what people think about their brands, or their products or services succeed in overwhelming ways in social media.  If you only care about selling a soda (think Sprite Sips on Facebook ), or getting people into your store (think Walmart Flogs) you likely won’t get very far since your conversation is only one way and isn’t really genuine.  However, if you are like Wendy, or BlendTec or even Lionel Menchaca from Dell, your community grows at astounding rates.

The key to building communities?  Conversation and realizing that as much as they involve speaking to someone, building communities involves a lot more listening and understanding.  So, stop and think – are you preaching or are you conversing?

I said yesterday that Mack Collier inspired me to love Blogging again.  Wendy also inspired me about communities and she made me excited about the potential of building a great community. To read about Wendy's presentation at SEG's Unleashed Conference for Small Business Marketing, check out David's take on Wendy's session.  Hop on over to SEG to get all the coverage of what happened at SEG's Unleashed Conference in Houston.

You can also find Wendy on Twitter, Mack on Twitter and even me on Twitter, too. Why not start a conversation with us?  :)

April 15, 2008

Online Marketing Tips: Social Media Types Video (Part 1)

By Li Evans

Tuesday's Tips in Online Marketing is back for it's 2nd edition.  This week's video features discussion of the different types of social media that is available for online marketing campaign use.  Since Social Media is such a huge area of Online Marketing and it covers a lot of different aspects, this is going to be part 1 of a 3 part series.


View this video on other video share services: Yahoo, MySpace, Metacafe, Google, Revver, DailyMotion,, Veoh, Crackle, Sclipo and Viddler

Full transcription(loosely) after the jump.

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips: Social Media Types Video (Part 1)" »

April 09, 2008

Olympic Torch Relay Demonstrations Caught by Scott Beale on Flickr, Twitter & His Blog

By Li Evans

Laughing_squid_logo Would you like to see word of mouth marketing at it's finest?  Then you need to check out Scott Beale's coverage of the Olympic Torch Run that happened in San Francisco today (4/9/008).  Word spread like wildfire what Scott was doing, mostly because he uses Twitter.

I'm one of those "lurking" fans of Scott.  I have subscribed to his blog for a long time.  I also follow him on Twitter and was just enthralled with what was unfolding before his eyes and how it was a bit different than what the media was reporting.  This is the kind of "citizen" journalism that has just sprung to life in the last 2 years.  Take a look at what all Scott used to get the "message" out about what was really going on today at the Olympic Torch Run in San Francisco.

Scott didn't just use one medium of communication in the social media spectrum he used 3 different specific services along with 4 different ways to consume the information he wanted to communicate with his followers / visitors / readers.  Twitter started the buzz.  His blog announced his intent and Flickr fed the consumer need.  So, lets take a closer look.

Continue reading "Olympic Torch Relay Demonstrations Caught by Scott Beale on Flickr, Twitter & His Blog" »

April 06, 2008

Facebook Chat: Great...Another Chat Client I Need to Manage

By Li Evans

Inside Facebook's Screen cap of Facebook's Chat ClientFor a few select networks, Facebook has rolled out a new way to "chat" online.  Inside Facebook has the scoop on using it, so check out the write up over there which even has screen shots included.

While Facebook is doing some neat integrations, and while developers are coming up with more neat application for user to integrate with their profile, I just sort of find this news of a way to "chat", sort of boring.  MySpace has had this for at least a year, and to be perfectly honest, Yahoo!'s IM just dominates this space.

For people who have been around the internet and chatting long enough to have a 6 digit ICQ ID, this really comes off as a "< insert yawn here >".  What would have maybe had more of a "hey that's cool" reaction is that if Facebook's team would have taken the time and reached out to Cerulean Studios (makers of Trillian) to have them integrate Facebook's chatting abilities into its multi-chat program client. 

Trillian_astra_build_75 In today's world of multitasking and trying to limit the clients running on desktops, adding another place I have to manage people I speak to, is just a real hassle.  Trillian gives me 90% of the management in one simple place.  A lot of people in tech and search utilize Trillian and the impending release of Astra is just really going to rock (I'm testing, and I can vouch for it!).  Adding Facebook in for the launch of Trillian would benefit both companies.

From "Inside Facebook":

"What does Chat mean for developers? Currently, Facebook does not support Platform integration with Chat, though a couple of weeks ago Facebook’s Matt Cohler indicated that adding Chat APIs (and Jabber support) is in their plans. Obviously, just like Facebook, developers are interested in finding additional ways to engage their users."

So...maybe that means we'll see something coming in the next few months along these lines.  MySpace has it already, I kind of feel like Facebook, is a bit behind here.  It would be nice to be able to just add my Facebook account into my Trillian client, heck maybe then I'd actually get notified of emails and friend requests a lot more promptly too!

More discussions over at Techmeme.

December 20, 2007

Is Twitter Really Dangerous? Get A Plan In Place Now!

By Li Evans

Twitterlogo I "heart" Twitter

With that said, I was a little taken aback by Michael Krigsman's "Twitter Is Dangerous" title of his article when I saw it on Techmeme this morning.  I was like HUH?  Really now, you aren't going to tell me Al Qaeda is using it to send secret messages are you?  Then I read the article.

Michael's definitely got a great point.  Fortunately for Twitter, most of it's early adopters have a sense of what is ethical to do and not do when it comes to "tweeting" on Twitter.  However, as Twitter's user base grows (it's now over 700,000 users) and enters more into the mainstream, not only is this going to be an issue for IT departments but for Public Relations and Online Marketing Departments as well.

This is the time when you need to add Twitter to your "online communications" policy. Twitter is not like your normal instant messenger like AOL's AIM, Yahoo Instant Messenger or ICQ.  Those IM clients are one-to-one communications.  With Twitter you can talk to hundreds and possibly thousands of followers with just 1 tweet that's 140 characters long.

Onlinecommuncationscartoon Twitter is great when you want to reach the captive masses fast.  It can also be a burden if your employees are using Twitter and do not understand the implications of one tweet that leaks vital information.  However, this burden is no more dangerous than having an employee hitting "reply all" or posting a blog post about sensitive information.  The issue needs to be addressed with company employees about discretion and use of online communication mediums.

Is Twitter really dangerous?  Only if you don't plan for and address the key issues your company could potentially have with it.  If you don't have an online communications policy in place now, get one and make sure Twitter's added to the mix.  If you do have one in place, make sure you add Twitter and notify your employees about the policy changes.

November 29, 2007

Facebook's Chamath Palihapitiya Keynote at SES Local: IML 07

By Li Evans

Facebook unveiled new advertising features at the beginning of the month.

So they wanted to think about how people buy things.  But what about people who just want information.  How do businesses say "I have something interesting you should take a look at."  Facebook thinks they can work with mediums like newspapers, yellowpages, etc.

People influence people.  Your friends recommend things to you, you are more likely to do something because you've been influenced by someone who you trust.

Mid 2005 Facebook has changed, no longer just high school and college users.  They've seen unprecedented growth, since they offer "things" people can really use, as well as allowing 3rd party developer access to their API.  Diversity is unbelievable.  Majority of the users are out of college - they are the core Facebook user.

Facebook has 55 Million active user.  Active user is someone who has used the service in the last 30 days.  Equivalent to the entire paid newspaper service.  They are doubling ever 6 months.  By fall of next year they predict to have over 155 million.  Most users return every day. 70 billion page views a month, at the end of this year over 1 trillion pages a year.  Every users (average) generated 40 page views a day.  Gives Facebook the ability to have a subtle conversation with the users.

Social Graph - trust and safety comes along with developing a network.  With accurate social graphs and facebook, you can distribute your information virally, you tell your friends, they tell their's  and so on.  All for free and a lot less friction than the way it use to be done.  The news feed and the mini feed is what powers the distribution of this type of information

The news feed is a "readers digest" of your friends lives.  This page dynamically changes constantly.  The mini-feed is where you decide what content and information that you want your friends to see.  The mini feed "Feeds" the news feed.  This powers the viral distribution of information at no cost.

Facebook Platform, any third party can access to these benefits.  In the first 4 days 1 application had 1 million users (iLike), today there are over 100 applications with more than 1 million users.  So how does all of this relate to advertising.

Distribution is a precious commodity, commanded by the few.  Newspapers, radio and TV.  distribution became a bottle neck.  But today the game is different.  Now, for free - anyone can now in an effortless way can have access to massive amounts of distribution.

Facebook Ads - 1st thing is Pages - this allows business to create a page for free.  This allows you to created your own network.  2nd thing is Social Ads, it works as a free market auction, CPC or CPM.  3rd is Insights, gives you a views into your ROI on Facebook.

Pages - Design your own page, for free.  Can add photos, videos, events, discussion board, flash content, music player.  3rd party application - open table, zagat, fandango.  These all take less than 10 minutes to create and implement.  These all allow the business to connect with people and have very powerful conversations with people.  Beacon allows social actions from your site to distribute it to Facebook, users control their information (Yelp is an excellent example of this).

Social Ads allow you to amplify that social distribution.  Social actions + content is what Social ads is about.  If you are a local business, you can now create 1 to 1 ads.  Can appear in the newsfeed or the left hand area for ad units.  Targets exactly the audience you want.  Criteria - location, county, state, interests, gender, activities, major, tv shows, books, work history, political views, relationship status, etc.

Insights holds Facebook accountable.  gives the advertiser information on page views, who's clicking on the ads.  Pulse (facebook product) gives you insight into every dollar spent into the ad system.

What does all this mean?  Just get started!

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