Tagweb strategy

What the F— is social media?

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A nice little presentation about the power of social media. It’s trying to me a bit more provocative than it really is, but the fun pictures make up for it. Some good stuff in there. (via). (Also, just after posting I noticed that this presentation slightly overlaps with the identically named presentation I blogged here.)

Vaynerchuk on Social Media ROI

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Gary Vaynerchuk strikes with another awesome rant: “You Down With ROI?… Yeah You Know Me“. Are social media in trouble because of the U.S. financial crisis? Nope, it’s magazines, radio and TV who are in trouble, say Vaynerchuk. And guess who agrees: Yours truly.

Because social media have a number of clear advantages over traditional media when it comes to advertising. Says Vaynerchuk: “ROI. I am talking about Return on the Investment of your advertising dollar. Traditional media advertising is incredibly expensive and doesn’t provide nearly the rate of return you can derive from intelligent web-based marketing campaigns in 2008 and beyond.”

Not only are social media much cheaper both to produce and to advertise on, they also have more value – in their respective niches.

Next-generation marketing: It’s the groups, stupid!

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David Cushman of Faster Future has this neat presentation about how PR works completely differently in networked environments, like on the web or mobile devices. It’s all about group behavior:

David Cushman: Adapting brands to the networked world.

(via End Of Control)

How to pitch media, bloggers, the web at large?

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For PR folks, pitching to the web is a problem. Talking to a PR firm recently, we ended up chatting about the challenges traditional PR firms face online. You have experienced professionals who know the ropes, the tricks of the trade, and their journalists. But facing a diffuse mass of bloggers is a different story altogether. What can you do about it?

Enter the Social Media Release, a concept that has developed over the last few months, maybe a year or two. The short-short version is this: Provide bloggers (and other online media) with as much material in as many formats as possible. These folks want to pick the materials they use, comment it, mash it up, and stir it thoroughly.

Lego Blogger Picture by Flickr user minifig Are blogs like toys, fun but not professionally relevant? Not any more. (Image: Lego Blogger Picture by Flickr user minifig, released under Creative Commons.)

(For further reading I recommend: Brian Solis (read his stuff thoroughly, starting maybe with what he says about blogger relations, his definitive guide to social media releases and social media releases, everything you ever wanted to know as well as the evolution of the press release.) Also, PR-Squared has a well-maintained list of successful use-cases of social media releases in the wild. (Update: and they have a template, too.) Just to pick one of those examples, Ford knows how to work the web: Note how everything is embeddable and the tons and tons of topic-related RSS feeds?)

Of course, this means you lose control over how your message is used, adapted, changed. The old rules of traditional media don’t apply here. They just don’t, so don’t even try. This is a hard lesson to learn for both PR firms and big brands, i.e. their clients. It requires a whole new approach to interacting with your stakeholders out there, and to some degree a new company culture.

It’s also tough to identify which bloggers to pitch, which services to use, and mainly: how to react to negative reactions on the web. For every campaign, you’ll have to find a decent strategy that works. A few basics like what’s listed in the articles above sure helps (think RSS feeds, embeddable pictures and videos, information in as many formats as possible). Also, forget embargoes, but that should be clear anyway.

If you’re a PR firm: How do YOU address bloggers (or do you at all)? If you’re a blogger, what are your experiences with being pitched?

Downing Street 10 relaunches, goes all Web 2.0

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Downing Street 10, the British Prime Minister’s office, has just announced a relaunch of their website. The new website is full of web-two-ishness: Prominent space for video (via Brightcove), Flickr integration, YouTube, Twitter, blog, you name it.

Downing Street 10 Relaunch Screenshot: Downing Street 10 relaunch

As I’m testing it, the intro video about the new site won’t play, but by the looks of it they definitively got the basics all right. The design looks kind of old-school (hint: serif fonts don’t automatically look all respectable & traditional), but overall it seems like a decent job. It’s all mashed, syndicated, aggregated, has del.icio.us and Digg flavors as well as links to Facebook.

The UK has been very good at all things e-democracy, e-participation and all, what with the official Ask the PM via Youtube, or the (not government-run) projects by mySociety.

I’m curious what’s going to change over the first couple of days, there’s certainly some stuff that could be tweaked. (For example, the Facebook links go to pictures or videos on Facebook which at a first glance doesn’t make terribly much sense, unless I’m missing something.) Overall, though, why not more like this? Good stuff.

Social cooperation & music distribution

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In the Commons Research wiki, I stumbled upon this Free Culture paper (PDF abstract). In the paper, Yochai Benkler (Harvard Law School, author of The Wealth of Networks and also seen in the video below), Leah Belsky and Byron Kahr (both of Yale Law School) analyze “social cooperation and the production and distribution of creative works” (which is also the title of the paper). In short: How can artists make a living off working with their fans, and without major labels?

Video: Yochai Benkler’s TED Talk on open source economics

How can artists make a living?

Benkler, Belsky and Kahr looked into cooperative models, i.e. models that allow (and depend on) active participation by fans:

Cooperative models—approaches to the sale and distribution of media that rely on voluntary contributions and other pro-social fan behavior—are beginning to appear in many different forms among a diverse range of artists. (…) Generally, cooperative approaches explicitly authorize fans to download their music without paying for it (or after paying an unusually low price), but appeal to fans’ sense of obligation in asking for discretionary contributions. Beyond seeking monetary compensation for digital downloads, some artists have appealed directly to fans accomplish a variety of goals, including: raising funds necessary for recording and distributing new material, planning and promoting of live concerts, developing videos and other promotional tools, and remixing previously released material. (…) Indeed, the basic logic of the tip jar is emerging in myriad iterations, with models evincing a wide range of sophistication and ambition.

Now except for donations, what models are there? I could imagine all kinds of ways to get your fans involved. One point raised in the quote above that resonated particularly with me is the part about involving your fans in planning and promoting live concerts. Promotion, sure, that’s fairly straightforward.

But what about the planning of concerts? It seems to me like this could be tricky, but also really compelling for both fans and artists. Just imagine a small, relatively unknown band. (Obviously they need to have played some concerts before to have at least a small fan base outside their own circle of friends.) They decide to go on tour, no matter if it’s through Europe or the United States. They announce their plans on their blog and plan just the first two or three stops of their tour, which they also feed into event planning websites like Upcoming. Of course, they blog and twitter the whole planning process. Then they just take it from there – no further planning beyond, say, the first three concerts. It’s all played by ear from that point on, by word of mouth, recommendations, invitations.

Could that work? Would the band get an email or phone call after their second concert and be invited to come to Austin, Texas in two weeks time, find fans to house them and maybe get some catering sponsoring? Through their blog and PayPal, could they ask their fans for the travel budget they need, or maybe a ride? Every step could be coordinated, planned, organized, and of course documented, online.

This seems chaotic and insecure at first, but I would imagine this kind of trip would create a very deep relationship with the fan base, it’s very unmediated and direct. It sure isn’t easy. But who says being a musician needs to be easier than other jobs?

Do you know any artists that have tried something similar?