Monday, March 29, 2010

New Forrester Blog Post: Facebook Asked: Now What Will It Do About Its Privacy Policy Change?

I posted a new blog post over on the Forrester blog about Facebook and the feedback it received regarding a proposed loosening of its privacy policy.  Almost 1000 people have responded and virtually all have voiced disapproval.  Now that Facebook has asked, what will it do with this feedback?  Click here to read my blog post. 
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Forrester Blog Post: Word of Mouth and Social Media: A Tale of Two Burger Joints

My latest blog post is a shout-out to two of my favorite burger bars in my hometown of Milwaukee, WI.  I dive deep into the work AJ Bombers has done with Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare.  Theirs is a story of a little business making it big thanks to Social Media--AJ Bombers has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and other national publications.  For more, visit:
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My blog: The End of the Road or a Change of Lanes?

In three days, it will be the two year anniversary of my first blog post on Experience: The Blog.  Originally intended to be an exploration of experiential marketing strategies, my interest and focus quickly turned to social media and how the growth of the peer-to-peer groundswell creates challenges and opportunities for marketers.  It is apt to recall on how my blog started as one thing and became another, because change is in the air again.  I'd like to reflect on that change, put it into context and invite you to join me as I shift my blog publishing to a new address.

A month ago, news broke that Forrester would be altering its blog policies and analysts would shift their industry-related blogging into a new, common platform on  I posted at the time that I believed aggregating Forrester's thought leadership in one place made sense and that I was eager to continue blogging, sharing news, and building my reputation within the new Forrester blog.

The reaction was swift and emotional.  Hundreds of tweets and blog posts weighed in on the topic; a few supported the new blogging policies, but most did not.  One person tweeted I was "licking the boots of (my) corporate paymasters," and a friend sent an email with heartfelt condolences at the loss of my blog.  I ignored the tweet and assured my friend that I was not progressing through any of the stages of grief (unless bemusement was one of those stages.)

The reaction was interesting on several levels.  First of all, there seemed to be a knee-jerk backlash to the very concept of corporate rules for social media. The idea that corporate policies don't have a place in social media is patently ridiculous and ignores the responsibility companies have to protect against legal, reputation and brand harm. 

Many observers made rather wild assumptions about the intent of the new policy, drawing incorrect conclusions that analysts posting to the new Forrester platform would no longer be free to share their thoughts without constraint.  This is also silly--how could it possibly benefit Forrester to restrain analysis, dialog and thought leadership?  Those are the very things that create value, demand and differentiation for Forrester's services.

Lastly, there were detractors who implied Forrester's actions were designed to undermine analysts' abilities to build their brands and reputation.  I find this accusation lacking for reasons far greater than that I still have my own blog with my own name and my own thoughts.  In fact, I was particularly bothered by this argument because of what it implied:  That my reputation, personal brand and value were inexorably bound to an Internet domain.

To paraphrase the movie "The Elephant Man," I am not a URL; I am a human being! Wherever I go in life, my experience, knowledge, reputation, abilities, value, and personal brand go with me.  "Experience: The Blog" doesn't contain Augie Ray; I contain it.  And later this week when I meet with a Fortune 100 organization to discuss their social media opportunities, it won't be my Twitter feed or domain address they care about but my ability to consider their situation, analyze the research conducted by Forrester, and draw insights and recommendations that drive their business.

My blog has not come to the end of the road;  it's just changing lanes.  If you subscribed to "Experience: The Blog" I invite you to join me at Augie Ray's Blog for Interactive Marketers (or subscribe to my blog's RSS feed).  I hope to see you at the new URL and (as always) welcome your comments, feedback, criticisms and ideas.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

How Do You Keep Mass Influencers Engaged? An Example from TripAdvisor

[This blog post was cross posted with my new blog on Forrester's Interactive Marketing blog:]

In the Forrester report, Tapping The Entire Online Peer Influence Pyramid, we introduced the Mass Influencer, a category of online influencer comprised of people who create most of the peer impressions about about brands in social channels.  Although just 16 percent of the online population, Mass Influencers create 80 percent of all peer impressions about products and services.

Engaging Mass Influencers is tough--getting a sufficient number of bloggers or Twitterers to mention your new product or participate in your promotion is challenge enough--but keeping them engaged is tougher.  In the middle of last year Moonfruit, a free web site builder, ran a Twitter sweepstakes that got many tweeting.  Some found the program spammy, but it was undeniable Moonfruit earned a lot of attention.  The site received a huge spike of traffic, but the volume of Unique Visitors has since returned to exactly the same level as before.  The promotion was successful in reaching many but did not succeed in creating lasting engagement.

One way Mass Influencers can create peer impressions for a brand is to post ratings and reviews, but there isn't much of a feedback loop to this activity. Are people reading my reviews?  Do they find them worthwhile?   

TripAdvisor needs to keep reviewers reviewing, and an email message they sent to me suggests one way to do so. They don't merely ask for more reviews but instead appeal to some of the motivations that Mass Influencers have for their social media activities.  The TripAdvisor message takes away doubt about readership of reviews and implies that those who post reviews have an audience eager for more content.  Here is what I received: 

Do I believe I have an audience waiting to read my next hotel review?  Of course not, but this email still motivated me to write a review of another property in which I stayed this past week.  TripAdvisor's email message confirmed my content is relevant to and read by others, and this acted as encouragement for me to post more content (which, in turn, drives page views, return visits, and revenue for

TripAdvisor cannot succeed in being a content and opinion destination if reviewers only post a review or two and then never return. Their simple email program suggests one way that feedback can be used to keep influencers influencing.

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