Keynote Conversation: The Future of Marketing
Stuart MacDonald talks with Steve Rubel of Edelman and Micropersuasion.com
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Intro: Blog Micropersuasion is ranked 69th on Technorati. Steve is recognized as a thought leader of global media.
What is “Micropersuasion”? – we’ve talked for years about mass persuasion; however, one voice is just as essential.
Everyone blogs for different reasons. To use this medium for marketing, you have to understand why they are blogging. You have to understand the medium. It is about befriending the community. The new model is to give something to the community, and they will create some buzz.
Blogging is just one piece of the pie. Consumers are going to talk to each other and trust each other. A study shows we trust our peer most. Smart to build tools for people to find each other.
Clients and agencies are facing a host of challenges.
SM: What is working?
A lot of money is going to TV advertising, but a lot of it is changing. Word of mouth is working; PR is working. Online is the “great white underbelly” of marketing, where a lot of dollars are going. Marketing and PR are not dying; they are just being spread out.
SM: With the blogosphere, how do you deal with issue management. Small issues spin off into great big issues.
There is a lot of fear of this. It is not just horror stories; there are also success stories. Clients need to see cases.
SM: How do you know who is credible?
The community will tell us who is credible and who is not. Not just the big blogs, but all blogs. The minute he would write something consistently false, traffic would go elsewhere.
SM: It is a red herring; there are millions of blogs and who should I be talking to and who should I read?
It is not a numbers game. The biggest blogs are not necessarily the most credible. Some of the blogs with a more narrow readership are more deeply engaged with those people. You need to find which ones fit in best with your industry, your market.
He has seen some companies set up money for community marketing. Eg. Marketing dept. at Lego knows the hundred top on-line Lego evangelists.
Your ranking will depend on number of links coming into your site. Bloggers can have a big influence on this, can bring in a lot of traffic.
SM: What needs to happen in this agency / client world to wake people up to realize there are hundreds of thousands of people engaging in this way?
They are starting to wake up. They just have to decide whether they want to invest in it. Companies have to get it into their heads that narrow is good/ niche is good.
SM: This is still very early days. The Wal-mart situation was telling.
Recap: he runs a war room out of DC for Wal-mart. They have identified the most avid pro- and con-Wal-mart bloggers. They were keeping the bloggers in the loop with daily email. They found the bloggers were just cutting and pasting the message without attributing it to Wal-mart.
If there is a certain amount of buzz around something it is picked up in the press such as the New York Times immediately.
SM: MySpace doesn’t seem to register yet. What is happening with MySpace?
MySpace is just one piece of social software puzzle. It could be Flickr or YouTube. You have to look where people are hanging out and market there. Whatever you do with social community, you have to do things on the term of the community. Otherwise you could get laughed at and booted out of the community. You need to fund something of importance to that community.
Strumpet.com – a pool running to see how long Steve will last in his position at Edelman. He recognizes as a blogger that he lives in the public. With that, you have to take your lumps. The lesson for marketers is that, if you are going to engage the community, you’ve got to take the good with the bad.
Secondlife – a simulation game where you live your life. It came out of nowhere. The potential is terrific providing you can find an acceptable way to the community to engage. Eg. Some companies are buying up islands or stores. It will be right for some markets and not others.
Do bloggers need to learn new skills? No – they do what they do, they live their lives. Cannot be expected to learn a whole new skill set.
Whenever bloggers are taken and given a more elevated role, generally they will be a little more careful when they are blogging on behalf of an organization. They do still have to be real. You encourage them to be authentic, to give the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The ROI is never going to pay out. How do you convince clients to take the plunge? Ten years ago we talked about Internet advertising, we had the same issue. The metrics have to come in. He would measure conversations, engagement with the community. He suggests subsidizing things for the market.
How do you represent the masses when it is the educated tech elite doing the talking? Are you worried about engaging only a subset of the market? It is not an either/or situation. You still fund the traditional mediums.
Pay for play goes on in the “real” editorial world. There will be those incidents in the blogosphere. What do you think if it becomes prominent in the blogosphere? He recommends not going that way; it would become a polluted environment. Eg. Writing positively about a product for pay. Unless the rest of the world overnight changes, recommends not doing this.
Community ROI – if you can create passionate users, you get huge ROI. Comment on the techniques being used today? How many times was a conversation created with an influential person, and what kind of echo effect did that have? MSN, Google and Yahoo! – look at ranking. It will come back to whether people bought more products.
Is ROI baked into requirements by clients? Definitely. It may also exist in a way not invented yet.
Who has done it the worst? Anyone who has created a fake blog, or a character blog e.g. Captain Morgan ran for U.S. president. They are great for ad campaigns, but not for blogging. Put the real people in the blogs.
Getting people unrelated to a product blogging about it? He has not tried it, but it may be a way of widening the market, bridge to a higher audience providing it fits under the umbrella of the issues you are involved with.