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Web 2.0 Expert Interview Series: Part 2

Web 2.0 or Social Media is described as the participatory web, where the user is invited to get involved. No wonder it's taken off like a rocket.

The challenge for marketers is how to embrace this new aspect of the Internet without blowing loads of money. Web 2.0 is here to stay and getting bigger. Sooner or later, you'll need to figure out how to employ Web 2.0 and get a decent ROI on your budget.

Below is Part 2 of our interview series with Web 2.0 experts who help answer some of the daunting questions you must have. In this group:

  • Steve Rubel, Edelman Digital
  • Greg Verdino, crayon
  • Amanda Watlington, owner of Searching for Profit marketing consultancy
  • Laura Ramos, Forrester Research

Here's Co-Editor Janet Roberts with the best quotes from our 4 experts.

1. Two examples of social-media success:

Steve Rubel: "One thing that social media gives you is the ability to have a launching point in one channel and then activating it in other social spaces. One example of this collaborative effort is our client, Brita (home water filtration systems). They developed an insight that a lot of people are fed up with bottled-water bottles, but they're throwing them away rather than recycling them."

"So, they launched Filter for Good and got people to pledge not to consume water from bottles. They had a coupon with an offer for a Brita system, a Google map inside Facebook to show where people were pledging from, and they got 50,000 pledges."

"It worked because the company hit on a topic that was a concern for people. It invited them to submit a pledge and identify themselves on the map, and it included a relevant offer."

Greg Verdino: "We used social media to promote a company called ooVoo (a complimentary Web-based video chatting service). The typical approach would be to do outreach and try to get people to talk about ooVoo, but we wanted to demonstrate the service as the enabler of conversation, so we created 'My ooVoo Day.'"

"We got a group of online influencers and community builders and gave them the technology. They scheduled video conversation times and promoted them to their communities for people to sign up and get together online. The (ooVoo) technology powered the conversation, but it wasn't the subject of conversation."

"With the first event, we had 25 hosts, who promoted the day and encouraged their communities to get involved and download ooVoo. That attracted the blogger and podcaster audience. We gambled that they would also talk about their experiences. We counted hundreds of blog posts and 1,300 Twitter mentions, and it stimulated chatter among message bearers, and people could experience ooVoo's service."

Editor's Note: We sat in on several virtual meetings and found many conversations featured well-known bloggers and Twitterers, offering "virtual" face time with people they had known only through digital media like Twitter, blog comments and email.

2. What's next in Web 2.0? The content concierge

Steve Rubel: "People will be much more confident creating and finding content, but they have so many choices and there's only so much you can read in one day. The technology can scale, but humans can't. Young people seem to be able to cope more easily with all the sources of information out there, but there's still a finite wall that people hit. They want curators to help them separate art from junk and cope with attention crash."

"I see this with some new services like Mahalo, and Knol from Google, Blogrunner, and The New York Times' most frequently emailed list of stories. You have both technology helping to find out what's hot and humans who are making the decisions that power that technology, and both are working together to curate the content."

Amanda Watlington: "The danger I see happening is that if readers don't get what these social networks or technology innovations do, or if it becomes a time [sink], they aren't going to give it their time. I think we are going to see a much more carefully chosen set of social-media outlets, that people will become much more particular about which social media they choose to use."

"For some, it might be the rich community sites that are very tightly confined to interest areas, while for others, it will be the more broadly based communities. I am an avid user of LinkedIn, but not Facebook, because I consider it too public. I use LinkedIn for tracking long-lost friends and business colleagues, and I consider it a valuable part of what I do. People are fascinated now with Twitter. But again, it can become intrusive, and it can become a time [sink]."

3. B2B Web 2.0: Marketers as community builders

Laura Ramos: "In B2B marketing, we believe the social media direction will evolve from treating social media like it is 'yet another' outbound, broadcast communication channel to community marketing. Community marketing shifts the conversation from 'messaging' to using marketing activity and resources to help customers adopt new, better business capabilities."

"Marketing takes on a more educational role focused on customer successes. It's less about cross-sell, upsell and more about leveraging social activity to turn customers into loyal buyers and into advocates for the firm."

"This will be a big change for B2B marketers - a transition from the advertisers that buyers shun to the proactive concierge buyers seek to obtain business services and capabilities they need."

4. Be relevant or be ignored.

Steve Rubel: "I heard this great term from Scott Donaton (former Ad Age editor): 'GMOOT.' That's where your boss reads about something, like Second Life, or Facebook, and picks up the phone and says 'Get Me One Of Those!' (which spells GMOOT). I'm actually seeing less of that, fortunately. People are becoming more strategic, now that we've seen what the cost of mistakes can be."

"What I advise companies to do is to experiment with the model. Traditional media relations is very one-way, pushing out messages. You have to understand that social media is collaborative. Understand where you are, where your company is, and where your audience is in this mix, and then figure out how you can bring it all together."

Amanda Watlington: "I am concerned that marketing via social networking is vulnerable right now in this current economic climate. Yes, some of it is very low-cost, but are there other ways to reach people? Part of me says, 'Don't look just at the cost. Look at the cost-benefit analysis.'"


Link to Part One, "5 Web 2.0 Marketing Strategies:" http://www.wdfm.com/marketing-viewpoints/web2_1.php

Steve Rubel's personal blog: http://www.micropersuasion.com/

Greg Verdino's personal blog: http://gregverdino.typepad.com/

Amanda Watlington, Searching for Profit: http://www.searchingforprofit.com/Site1/company.html

Laura Ramos, Forrester Blog for Interactive Marketing Professionals: http://blogs.forrester.com/interactive_marketing