Who Are You More Likely to Follow on Twitter?

March 2, 2009

(vote via Poll above — don’t be shy, just click on an open square)

arrowOn topic, view the full interview of Evan Willimas, Founder and CEO, Twitter on Charlie Rose via this VentureBeat blog post.

arrowMake sure you register for the upcoming webinar How to Leverage Twitter to Grow Your Small Business, March 12 @ 12 EST (60 minutes in duration).   The session is free!  Our expert panel includes:

 Aaron Strout, Chief Marketing Officer, Powered, Inc.
Blog: Citizen Marketer 2.1
Follow @AaronStrout  

Elliott Kosmicki, User Experience Manager, Musicnotes.com
Blog: Goodplum
@iElliott on |

Becky McCray, Small Town Entrepreneur
Blog: Small Biz Survival
Follow @BeckyMcCray

 Kyle Flarhety, Director of Marketing, BreakingPoint
Blog: Engage in PR
Follow @kyleflaherty  on

What We Will Cover
* What is Twitter and how does it fit in with other social media platforms?
* Four steps to leveraging Twitter for your B2C small business
* Four steps to leveraging Twitter for partnerships that will grow your small business 
* Four steps to leveraging Twitter for partnerships that will grow your B2B small business 
* Good peeps to follow to get started or to grow!
* Summary and Q&A

Register for free.

Who should attend?  Owners and/or practitioners that are responsible for market their small business.  (For the purpose of this webinar, small businesses are loosely defined as businesses that generate less than $5M annually).  These may be lawyers, consultants, software vendors, accountants, insurance brokers, store owners, service providers, publishers, etc.

Lead Generation is Old and Boring!!

February 10, 2009

sexy  New Marketing, Social Media and Web 2.0 are the new “sexy” terms marketers love to use today. But what do those terms really refer to anyway?

chris-brogan  Chris Brogan writes on his blog today about the “The Rise of Microfame.” His point is that social media platforms have provided all of us the opportunity to become mircofamous. He is spot on!   Becoming “microfamous” should be at the core of any business’s marketing strategy.  

godin-image     hubspot-with-heartlogo    However, at the end of the day, whether you are building your own “Tribe,” (thank you Seth Godin), creating an Inbound marketing machine (thank you Hubspot) or becoming Microfamous you are doing that same thing the very best marketers have always excelled at: “generating leads to build brand and grow the business.”

 There is no more effective avenue to showcase your insights and expertise than social media platforms (blogs, communities, twitter, facebook, etc).   Brogan further explains “fame isn’t trust, and the real goal, in my estimation, would be to develop trust, build relationships, and earn the attention of people in our circles of interest.   That’s what matters.”  

As a small business, freelancer or sole practitioner you can leverage these new platforms to quickly build relationships with your target market.   Every single resource spent on marketing (time exhausted and dollars invested) should be focused on building credibility and trust within your market.  Once more, lead generation programs must be designed to identify who out there may have reason to purchase your product or service one day (aka Lead Generation).

stage-with-audience Social media platforms, even in today’s economy, present a great opportunity for the little guy to grow their business doing the same ole, same ole…..generating business by building trust and credibility within your marketplace ….this is at the core of good old fashion Lead Generation.  So jump on the social media stage and become Microfamous!

webinar-globe   Join us Wednesday at 8PM to discuss these topics further. I am moderating a great panel of experts (via webinar) who will discuss the most important of these tactics ….it’s free so register now! Details at: http://marketingstudio.eventbrite.com

Three Keys to Creating a Member-Driven Culture within Your Vertical Community

December 19, 2008

A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of presenting to the Professional Marketing Forum in Boston.  I outlined a case study on how professional services firms can leverage a vertical community to improve their lead generation and customer-centric marketing efforts.  One of the main points made was “a well managed and facilitated community will enable your customers (or prospects) to derive value by interacting with each other as well as with your firm.” 


How can your firm benefit from these constituents consulting each other?   If leveraged correctly, peer-to-peer interaction between prospects can be a powerful part of your company’s relationship marketing and lead generation strategy, resulting in healthy increases in brand equity and sales.  However, a self sustaining, member-driven vertical community culture is difficult to achieve. 


I outlined for the audience in Boston three proven tactics that firms can employ when tacking the challenge of creating a community where members produces content, feedback and value through peer-to-peer interaction.  I summarize the three below:


Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) and Evangelists



Create an advisory board of key opinion leaders within the market.  Allow them to have decision making power as it relates to programming and content within your community in exchange for showcasing their involvement and endorsement of the community.  Use them for advice and gaining credibility.   Encourage their participation but if they are very prominent within your industry don’t expect them to have the time to actively be involved on a daily or even weekly basis.  



To offset KOLs inaccessibility, it is critical to also befriend a group within your market that truly embraces the community-concept and/or your firm.  These individuals must have a certain prominence or stature within the industry but need not be the “KOLs” on your advisory board (maybe their direct reports or two levels down).  Feature these folks around various community content like facilitated online discussions, guest blog posts, webinars and face-to-face events.  Focus on enabling these people to “sell” your community and thus your firm.



Keep Things Simple


Assume your market has very little familiarity or comfort participating in online communities.  Thus the user interface or “UI” needs to be simple.  Copy templates off common sites that your users are already familiar and comfortable.  Specifically, the communication tools within the community must be easy and simple to use, whether it be interacting with each other through blinded email (see LinkedIn), well designed online discussion forums or blogs, these applications must have a clean interface and be self explanatory to use. 


Event Driven-to-Member Driven


You may have a robust database that enables you to quickly fill your community with members, but it is quite a different leap to assume your members will actively utilize the community to interface with you and other members.  To avoid having members be anything other than a dormant e-mail address in your database, focus on value-added events that tackle subject matters that are both highly relevant to your members and can be tied into your firm.  Get the membership acclimated with the community culture through regularly scheduled live, synchronous events like webinars and complement these with asynchronous events like featured online discussions.  Ask members to sit on panels during the webinars, ask members to “facilitate” an online discussion and ask members to be “question askers” or “posters” in the audience.  “Assigning” member involvement is tedious but critical during the first 12-18 months of a community’s life.  The ancillary benefit to your hard work is it allows you to nurture relationships with your most important people. 


In Conclusion, if your firm has a clear objective behind a web 2.0 strategy (see the five “objectives” in Groundswell) then it is likely that building an organically grown, member-driven community can be at the core of your lead generation and nourishment strategy.  None of the above tactics are easy and each has it’s own intrinsic benefits and inherent barriers to execution.  However, nothing I recommend is rocket science (I can address questions or dive into each tactic in more detail in a future post or via email if there is demand for such  a discussion).  Practical thinking and practical applications of a sound relationship marketing strategy will enable any smart company to successfully deploy each of the above three tactics. 



Ultimately, your members will begin showing initiative in organizing their own online discussions and contributing their own insights via posts or document uploads.  This can result in a number of self explanatory benefits to firms (dramtic improvement in lead generation, better relationships, building brand, market research, customer service, etc, etc).  In extreme cases your members will start “Embracing the Groundswell” (the fifth objective outlined in the book) and seeking you out with ideas on how YOU can generate more sales around your services.  The valuable peer-to-peer forum or member-driven community you have created may end up being your firm’s most valuable marketing asset.


See this recent article in Bio IT World on our community the Drug Safety Executive Council as case and point.  

An Example of How Web 2.0 Can Make a Real Life Impact

November 4, 2008

Since my post on October 29, I have received a number requests for examples of organizations that have already Untapped the Power of Web 2.0.

What companies are making a real impact in their vertical B2B market?  My quick answer is look no further than your own doctor’s office!   A very tangible example of the Power of Web 2.0 is doctors collaborating with other doctors online.

Today social networks, like Medscape and Sermo, provide a valuable platform for health care providers to advise each other on treatment options and share new insights on medications/medical devices. Like anything in life, we are better equipped to apply a successful solution to a problem when we have seen the problem multiple times in the past. Medical care is of course no different. Communities, where true physician-to-physician consulting takes place, help improve patient care by enabling collaboration around cases when the doctor is unfamiliar with an array of symptoms or when the best treatment practices around a specific condition may yet to be established or are varying.  The result is better patient care which benefits all.

The pharma industry has been ahead of many other industries in leveraging social media to both build relationships with their core customer and gain market research intelligence.  Companies like Physicians’ Online (now a part of Medscape and Web MD) have been providing online, peer-to-peer forums for over a decade (yes, pharma marketers were involved in online communities before LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc).

Don’t be too concerned about the pharma “evangelists” on the payroll as most physician communities where doctors present, post or blog regarding treatment options do require “disclosures” of their affiliations. For example, “Dr. Smith has received research grants for clinical research and has served as an advisor or consultant for Abbott and Merck. She has received grants for educational activities from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lilly, Pfizer and sanofi-aventis.”

There remains much opportunity in the physician community space, and it goes beyond simply patient care.  The information and insights generated by a physician community can also be used to gage adoption trends and market perceptions around drugs, medical devices and technologies. This knowledge is of course gold if used appropriately by various stakeholders (i.e. the financial and investment community, drug companies, device companies, etc).

The core components of what make these doctor communities so powerful and impactful, can also transcend to other B2B communities.  Unleashing the true Power of Web 2.0 involves bringing peers together, in any profession or industry, to address areas of shared concern.  This enhances knowledge, improves efficiencies and ultimately has a positive impact on profits.

What companies do you know that are Untapping the Power of Web 2.0?


Examples of Physician Communities who are Untapping the Power of Web 2.0:

DoctorNetworking.com – the premier professional networking site for physicians.

iMedicor – offers medical records, Physician CME and collaboration, patient record sharing, practice management.

Medscape – offers specialists, primary care physicians, and other health professionals the Web’s most robust and integrated medical information and educational tools.

SpineConnect – the leading collaborative knowledge network for spine surgeons to collaborate on difficult and unusual cases.

Sermo – the fastest growing community created by physicians, for physicians.

(Please Note: I am presently not affiliated with iMedicor, Medscape, Sermo, SpineConnect, a pharma company or financial institution.)

The Untapped Power of Web 2.0

October 29, 2008

  Marketing is about building and growing relationships.  Social media serves as an attractive avenue to accomplish important marketing objectives.  If leveraged properly, a company can improve their communication with leads, prospects and customers through social media outlets. 


However, the real untapped power in Web 2.0 is creating forums for productive interaction between your leads, prospects and customers (i.e. peer-to-peer consulting between your constituents).  Four top line tactics to that have been successful in facilitating peer-to-peer consulting amongst your market:


  1. Initially treat online discussion forums as a single event and promote it as such (i.e. October Forum on “How the Recent ABC Regulatory Changes Impact Widget Production Process and How Companies Can Capitalize”)
  2. Choose a topic that is controversial, topical and/or particularly important to a large portion of your customer base
  3. Invite customers to serve as “KOLs” or key opinion leaders in facilitating a specific forum or discussion, asking them to post 1-2 times per week for a month
  4. Don’t self promote your company or service within the fourm


  Social media has presented companies with a unique opportunity to harness the “Wisdom of Crowds” and gain recognition (and revenues) by brokering relationships between members of that crowd.  If managed properly, facilitating peer-to-peer consulting between leads, prospects and customers can increase client loyalty, retention and the overall perceived value of your service.


How has your company untapped the power of Web 2.0? 


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