Sunday, September 21, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo: Web 2.0 and the Reinvention of Marketing and PR - Brian Solis

Brian Solis of FutureWorks had the last morning session on Wednesday, Sept. 17 of the Web 2.0 Expo here in New York City. Here are my notes of his main points (and not necessarily a neat prose rendition). As always, these should not be taken as an exact transcription of his words.

He pointed out that Web 2.0 is more of a dialog than a broadcast medium. He dared to ask rhetorically: "When was the last time a press release worked for you?" Web 2.0 has created a new era of tools, channels, communities, and methodologies to connect with and cultivate relationships and influence. (This has resulted in a realization: public relationships people aren't the most popular people in marketing. )

Web 2.0 is the social web where anyone can facilitate conversations. It's the democratization of information with the potential to transform people. Today, markets are conversations - read about it in The Cluetrain Manifesto. You engage them through conversation; if you attempt direct control, they remove you from their radar. Markets are not conversations and are cyclical. They're driven by the voice of the people. Controlling the message is no longer a goal, because every conversation with consumers is an opportunity.

Everyone contributes to the definition of a brand. The perception of a brand is the sum of all conversations.
How do you define influence? You need new metrics for a new era of public relations. How Web 2.0 redefines the landscape: through curation, content creation, forums, blogs, social networks, new influences, events, and traditional media. Public relations is no longer defined by "hits' (on a website), because Web 2.0 creates many new opportunities. Now, the "conversation index" is the new form of measurement: videos, podcasts, tweets, etc.

And they're trackable: A conversation index indicates your placement, status, ranking, perception, and participation in social media.
The roadblocks are that some marketing people are perceived as "not getting it." They belong to the "sell rather than tell" school of thought. But today it's a new world of public relations and marketing. We're no longer the sole content creators, but should just be part of the community. It requires a new hybrid form of marketeer.

What are the qualifications for this new kind of marketeer? Empathy, market exposure, understanding the competitive landscape, relevant stories, benefits, true intentions, customer approach, observance of online cultures, and experience with social tools. This all sounds like common sense but should not be underestimated.

There are new rules for "breaking news." Be wary of bloggers, because they don't adhere to the same rules of traditional press. They want scoops. The rule guiding this landscape is: less is more. So identify a list of newsmakers and build relationships with them.

The Magic Middle and the Long Tail

Today we're in a world of social media, conversational marketing and word-of-mouth marketing. The key is people - they are what makes something viral.
None are rooted in old-style broadcast, i.e. one-way marketing. Who's responsible for participating? Everyone -- including you.

We must become sociologists in order to become participants. How do we listen? Through the conversation prism -- everywhere where conversations are taking place.

But how does this translate into delivering value to communities? You must participate, have conversations. Humanize our story (and beware of what not to do). Conversational marking is not a campaign. It must be done every day.

New elements are introduced into public relations for measuring return of investment and success -- web analytics are useful for this.

It's about how to change the way we are perceived. The public relations/marketing world of today is about less noise, and more listening. You are the brand: respect the communities and they will respect you. Ultimately, companies get the relationships they deserve.

After the main part of the talk, an audience member, responsible for maintaining decorum in his online community, asked how do deal with constant complaints. Brian retorted with a smart answer: "How does Batman sleep at night?" One does what one can.

Be a champion of your brand. Invite others to lunch in order to proselytize . Find champions in your company.

I was particularly taken when, at one point in the talk, Brian said: "Research librarians are better than marketing directors." (Meaning that their depth of knowledge is richer.) Bravo.


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