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June 24, 2008

Wireless Social Networking Poised to Take Over by 2020

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According to iSuppli - an applied market intelligence firm - a revolution in technology is afoot!! In a June 4 article titled, Wireless Social Networking Revolution Poised to Reshape Tech Industry, iSuppli indicates that wireless social networking technologies are poised to generate $2.5 trillion over the next 12 years, and that those companies who jump aboard the wireless social wave now stand to "lead in the technology business," while others may fall behind or become irrelevant.

In the article, iSuppli suggests that, as mobile devices become more embedded in our every day lives, their use as content delivery devices will skyrocket. At the same time, the availability of increased processing power, the expansion of wireless networks, and the ease and speed of wirelessly downloading content will turn the ever-present smart phones, PDAs and cell phones into our primary content viewing devices. And with so many people already turning to their iPhones to download videos from YouTube and following friends via Twitter and Pownce on their cell phones, it's no big leap to think that these devices will soon become central to downloading ALL of our electronic content.

According to iSuppli, the impact of wireless social networking will be felt across all areas of the industry - from semiconductors and processors to memory/storage capacities, devices and software. According to the article, as mobile devices are designed to better accommodate social networking needs, "...semiconductor companies will be compelled to deliver highly integrated processors that combine numerous high-performance, multi-threaded special purpose cores." This means that the expansion of social networking into the mainstream of society and business will generate new business opportunities as companies strive to meet the technological needs of this ever-evolving segment.

So how are businesses that haven't even integrated mobile content-delivery into their business models supposed to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to building wireless social networking into their organizations? The adoption of new technologies can be painstakingly slow, even among technologically-savvy industries; because of this, companies will have to develop a method that simultaneously incorporates mobile marketing and social networking into current business models.

In order to effectively implement wireless social networking, organizations that are currently dedicated to producing, managing and delivering online content need to take social media and social networking with the utmost seriousness. By ignoring the drumbeat of social networks, corporations signal a lack of understanding in regard to the future of technology. After all, social media and social networking are going to go away. The early adopters have already incorporated these technologies into their business models, and it's time for the rest of us to wake up and start letting our users connect to one another on their own terms and via whatever devices they so desire.

June 13, 2008

Content Delivery Methods Matter

mobile_rewvised.jpgAs the digital world changes to incorporate social communities, mobile devices, rich media, and user-generated content into the mainstream, marketers must evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of their users. While many B2B marketers have already heard this call and responded - consider how many podcasts, webinars, eSeminars and even Virtual Tradeshows exist that were unthinkable several years ago - there are advances that still need to be made, especially in how content is created and delivered.

1. Think Niche. Instead of reaching out to mammoth groups of users who may be interested in the topics you're presenting, give your users the change to sort themselves into small, category-specific groups that can be targeted with highly relevant content. Instead of letting users select from a few general categories related to your offerings, give them sub-choices within those categories. Once you know that a user is interested in learning about highly specific solutions within a larger category, they become highly qualified prospects when it's time to really promote your solutions. Users want to personalize their online experience, and offering them the option to define their interests in-depth allows them do this while giving you insight into their needs.

2. Mobile devices will as important as computers for content delivery. As it already stands, 64% of IT decision makers use their mobile devices to access electronic content. This number is only expected to go up as mobile networks become faster and are able to deliver content quickly and to a range of devices. If you're not already developing mobile versions of your website, landing page and marketing materials (enewsletters, email marketing messages), you need to start doing so now. When users try to access your website or open your enewsletter on their mobile devices, do you really want to lose them as a lead because their platform doesn't support your message?

3. Content needs to be convertible. Buzz Marketing (also known as word-of-mouth marketing or viral marketing) is how people are increasingly finding out about your content. People gather data from trusted sources, and their friends and co-workers fall into that category. Because of this, content needs to be packaged so it can be easily passed from person-to-person, regardless of the device they're using. While forwarding a white paper or emailing a URL that points to a video is easy, users will eventually need to be able to pass webinars, podcasts and product demos from device to device without considering that the file won't transfer. If you want your podcasts, webinars and other rich media to play, regardless of the device it's being accessed from, you need to develop these kinds of content with that goal in mind.

As a B2B marketer, one of your goals should be to make content as accessible to as many people, and with as little ease on their part as is humanly possible. This may mean re-tooling your product offerings to include mobile content delivery options, offering instant updates via micro-blog messages, or developing content that is accessible regardless of the device on which it's played. You may need to refine your focus when it comes to building eNewsletters, and consider sending more newsletters to fewer people so you get a smaller pool of more highly-qualified leads at the end of the day.

Developing new strategies for delivering content is challenging, but is essential to staying current in this evolving digital marketplace. When you do develop new products, you'll be better suited to meet your users needs and you may even attract new users when they see the cutting-edge content-delivery options that your company offers.

June 02, 2008

Managing the Buzz of an Interactive World

buzz_revised.jpgWith the introduction and widespread use of social media online, the digital landscape has changed from a one-way content stream (companies create and deliver content to users), to a two-way content stream (companies and consumers both create and deliver content). This two-way content stream has been good for companies; the more users engage with a company's marketing materials, the more connected they feel toward the company's brand. At the same time however, social media has opened companies to negative and potentially brand-damaging user interactions.

As more people user social media, and more companies incorporate social media tools into their sites, users have more ways to communicate their views with corporate entities, and corporations have less control over the messages going out with their names attached. If users decide that they are unhappy with a company's actions, they can use the company's own website and communications channels to express their dismay over the situation.

Once angry comments, or "buzz," start popping up on blogs or in user forums, companies no longer control their overall image and reputations can suffer. Rob Key, CEO of Converseon sums it up, "You no longer own your brand. Your brand is a conversation." Once conversations about your company turn negative, your hard-earned reputation can be sullied, and your company's earnings can even suffer.

Because user-participation online is not going away, companies need strategies to manage their online reputations without stifling the voices of their customers. It's clear that people want to participate in their online experiences, and by turning off the comment functionality on blogs, or disallowing user-generated content on websites, companies will only push their users further away and erode their reputation and their customer base.

To help companies keep abreast of the online "buzz" being generated in their name, companies can use "buzz monitoring" tools that track names, products and brands all over the web. In addition to the paid services that exist, companies can start tracking their online reputation with any of these 26 free buzz tracking tools. While you may not be able to control the conversations taking place about your company, you can monitor what people are saying, respond to negative posts, and reach out to people to limit the damage.

Learn more about how to monitor your company's reputation with the Free Online Reputation Management Beginner's Guide by Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim. Even though the guide was originally published in 2006, the tips and tools offered by Beal are relevant to everything that's going on today and deal with how to manage negative consumer generated media (CGM) before it ruins your corporate reputation. You can also learn more on The Forrester Blog for Interactive Marketing Professionals post by Peter Kim, Three Key Applications for Brand Monitoring.