I’m sometimes asked to review Internet-related books, but who has time to read these days? (Just joking, of course.) While many people are just waking up to the marketing possibilities made possible by social networking, there’s always a next new thing. To stay ahead of the curve, Michael Tasner, who started his first Internet company at age 15, has written a practical guide to harnessing the latest technology to get your message out there first.
The vast proliferation of communication channels presents a huge challenge. With so many options, yet so little time, how do you choose the most effective strategy? “Marketing in the Moment” is packed with useful ideas for any individual or business that needs to understand the electronic landscape. Here’s the first part of an e-mail interview with the author:
ML: You refer to Web 3.0 in your book. What is Web 3.0 and how is it different than Web 2.0?
MT: One of the big items in the book that I mention is that I really don’t know what Web 3.0 in general is. It’s really more of a conceptual term that simply means the next wave of the web. Some people have also called it the semantic web (more intelligent searching) Instead, I refer to Web 3.0 Marketing as opposed to just Web 3.0 in general. Web 3.0 marketing is what’s next in terms of online marketing online. It’s the shift from Blogging to Microblogging (from WordPress to Twitter for example), the shift from static video to live video (YouTube.com, to Ustream.tv) It’s also the mobile age and the virtual age (sites like secondlife.com). The biggest trend in Web 3.0 marketing is the way we’re consuming data. Instead of being at our computers 24/7, we’re connected to, and on our mobile devices.
For someone looking to harness Web 3.0, where do you start?
This is a loaded question. In the book I provide a form that I invented called a 360 degree web marketing review. The intention of this form is to show you some of the blindspots that you may not be seeing. The 360 degree concept involves interviewing your staff, your friends, vendors, clients etc. Armed with this information, I like to locate the places your potential customers are consuming data or visiting data that you’re not on.
For most businesses, the best place to start is mobile. Start asking for a mobile number (and permission to mail them) everywhere. Ask for it on your web site, on your blog, your social networks, and in your retail outlet if that applies. Once you have these numbers formulate your mobile marketing strategy. This may be to educate your prospects, offer discounts and coupons or to sell directly from a text message (SMS) or interactive message (MMS).
Mobile is the fastest growing segment that cannot be ignored and with less than 6% of businesses adopting mobile marketing its ripe of the picking!
With literally millions of destinations on the Web, how does someone grab attention?
The strategy we use is called Multiple Streams of Targeted Traffic™. This strategy involves being in ALL the places that your customers are interacting. For example, let’s say you have an online patio furniture store site. You need to in the top ten of Google, Yahoo and Bing, you should have videos of your products on YouTube, on all the major social networks and beyond. By being in multiple targeted locations you speed up the rule of seven in marketing (that a prospect will need to hear from you seven times before they buy). Your customers also start to associate expert/authority status when all they see is YOU and your business popping up everywhere. That’s the best way to grab attention. Magnify the effect when you also add Web 3.0 Marketing sites to the mix and your dominating.
Read the second part of the interview with Michael Tasner.
With a reported 500 million members, you ignore Facebook at your own peril. No longer just of site for individuals to share the minutia of their lives, millions of business and organizations now have a Facebook page that they actively promote. But what’s the value of that page? How effective is it in promoting the company brand? How does it compare to competitor’s pages? To assess your efforts, try a new tool from Vitrue, which claims to place a value on your Facebook page based on the number of fans, the interaction, and the frequency and quality of the content. Just enter the address of your page (or anyone else’s for that matter) into the search box for a free evaluation. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose, except maybe your illusions.
Early this month, I wrote a story about a college student in Michigan who is being sued by T&J Towing for posting a Facebook page that allegedly disparages the company. The lawsuit ignited a national firestorm that has arguably done more harm than good for the plaintiff. What should T&J have done? I asked David Thompson, author of “Wild West 2.0,” a recently published book about protecting and restoring your online reputation. Here’s his advice:
“Suing a customer over an online complaint almost always makes the problem worse. A lawsuit attracts media attention and creates a camera-ready narrative about an overbearing company trying to silence legitimate criticism. Free speech groups and consumer advocates almost inevitably rally behind the consumer, spreading the original complaint as well as the David-versus-Goliath story. In many states, attempts to sue critics can subject a company to heavy fines under “anti-SLAPP” statutes. And a lawsuit ensures that the original complaint is spread far wider than it would otherwise–here, a towing company managed to create a national story out of one student’s complaint about its practices. Tens of thousands of people across the country now associate T&J Towing with this one story, whether it is a fair opinion of the company or not. It’s publicity that one student could never have gotten on his own.
There is a better way. The best businesses listen to customers and correct their practices in response to criticism. And businesses can bounce back from online criticism by proactively shaping and monitoring their online reputations.
The towing company should have first investigated whether the student’s complaints had merit, and corrected its policies if so. Once it completed its investigation, it could have proactively responded to explain the investigation and any changes, or a more thorough explanation of why no changes were necessary. By posting the results of its investigation on its own website and on the Facebook group page, it would have been able to inform readers and stop the inevitable online cycle of rumors.
The company could have also stopped the growth of the story by responding more calmly. The student was understandably upset after his car was towed; but the company’s aggressive response only made him more dedicated to seeking revenge. Instead, the business should have remained more calm and under-stated than the customer. Businesses should never engage in online shouting matches with customers, nor should they accuse customers of lying unless there is undisputable evidence and it is necessary to correct the record (such as when Wendy’s thoroughly disproved the false claim of a finger in its chili). Otherwise, businesses should stick to telling their side of a story and letting readers draw their own conclusions. By posting its side of the story in a calm manner and not accusing the critic of lying, the towing company could have helped readers understand that it takes criticism seriously, while helping to give readers a fuller picture of the towing industry in Kalamazoo.
In this case, a direct response could have stopped the story before it became a serious problem. The student appears to have approached the situation rationally; if the towing company calmly responded to explain the policy changes it made in response, it could have turned a critic into a champion.
Today, the company faces a nearly irreparable online reputation. Thousands of websites refer to the student’s complaints, and all of the top search results for “T&J Towing” are negative opinions. But if the company had acted sooner and more directly, it would have faced a much more solvable battle. If only a few sites mentioned the criticism, it would have been possible for the company to make sure that the top Google search results reflected a fair picture of the company and its response.”