Friday, September 28, 2007

Internet Cut in Myanmar

It’s a frightening concept to Americans and all too familiar to North Koreans. Amid the violence and bloodshed in Myanmar this week as the military clashes with peaceful protests by Buddhist monks, the country’s Internet connection has been severed. The violence that has erupted is tragic and in its third day has not seemed to slow.

Clearly the killings are terrible, but today attention has been paid to Myanmar’s lost connection. The concept of shutting off the Internet, and in many ways cutting off access to the outside world, is troubling. It highlights the reach of the Internet and how important it has become. Email has usurped postage as the primary mode of written conversation, “Googling” information has taken the place of visiting libraries and VoIP has moved phone conversations from telephone lines to Internet connections.

In this case, bloggers posting stories, pictures and video are telling the story of the horrific events in Myanmar. The removal of Internet connectivity has effectively silenced these voices and shut out the rest of the world.

This blog entry could now take any number of paths to explain the severity of this situation:
  • A reminder of the importance of Americans’ freedom of speech and freedom of the press
  • With a global economy and the increase outsourcing, an Internet shut down in another country could hamper American business
  • Yet another example of the “Over There” complex, international stories already lose interest, and if a story cannot be translated into pictures and sound bites it has no chance of being recognized by the American news consumer
  • Blogs, YouTube and all other forms of user-generated content continue to prove vital to the reporting of news
  • Imagine if our government, in the name of national security, halted access to the Internet

All of these topics are important and they’re important for different reasons. Rather than spending time building each argument, I will instead say that on the surface the events in Myanmar tell a story of pain, suffering and tyrannical abuse. But the story goes deeper than that. And by shutting out the rest of the world it is uncertain how deeply the abuse goes and for how much longer it will continue.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

JupiterResearch report highlights best practices for viral marketing

A mere 15% of viral campaigns prompted people to pass them on, according to an Aug. 21 JupiterResearch report, “Viral Marketing: Bringing the Message to the Masses.” As a result, viral marketers plan on decreasing their targeting of “influentials” by 55% over the coming year, the report said. Yet abandoning viral marketing efforts may not be a marketer’s best bet because the tactic—when done right—can still be an effective way to reach new prospects.

Emily Riley, a JupiterResearch analyst and co-author of the report, provides some best practices to help build a successful viral e-mail marketing campaign.

Give people something worth forwarding. Readers aren’t going to forward your newsletter or marketing message unless there’s something in it for them. That’s why it’s important to include something tangible—such as a survey, informative tip or report—or something fun—like a game, video or quiz. “Are you giving people a reason to be viral? The biggest reason [readers pass your e-mail along] is giving readers something that their friends will get something out of,” Riley said. “Is there value? Is there a discount? These are things that matter.”

Make it easy. The simple act of including a Forward to a Friend button can help push people to do just that. “People forget that it’s important to make it as easy as possible to forward a message,” Riley said.

Use the right list—and demographic. Surprisingly, the younger the person, the less likely they are to forward something. Overall, only 7% of adults have forwarded a marketing message to another adult. A mere 3% of 18-to-24-year-olds have forwarded a message, while 10% of adults ages 45 to 54 have passed a message along. Consider this when planning your campaign.

Think about partnering. There’s a reason that companies are decreasing the number of viral campaigns: They aren’t seeing a return on investment. You may be able to change that by hiring an outside agency that specializes in viral marketing, such as PopularMedia or BoldMouth, or you can send news about something you’re working on with your partner directly to its newsletter readership.

Attach your message to a blog or microsite. You want your message to be picked up by the masses—not just the friends and colleagues of those people on your e-mail marketing list. Your best bet may be to seed blogs yourself, but be very careful, Riley said. “We see a lot of advertisers going on to blogs and discussing products and advertising efforts,” she said. “It’s best to go out and be yourself—10% of companies actually go out and pretend to be a random reader, while 22% contribute under a company name. It’s much better to go out and be yourself. And if you get negative feedback, listen to it and respond to it.” And make sure you give blog readers a way to sign up for your newsletter or marketing. You can provide a direct link in your signature line.


How companies are marketing online: A McKinsey Global Survey

This survey from McKinsey is really an great offers some solid insight into marketers uses of Web 2.0 tools.

A McKinsey global survey of marketers shows that companies are using digital tools—from Web sites to wikis—most extensively for customer service, least in pricing. Two-thirds are using digital tools for product development, almost as many as are advertising online.

Respondents consider online ads to be as useful for brand building as for direct response. Spending is expected to increase on all types of online advertising vehicles over the next three years.

In 2010 just over half of all respondents expect their companies to be getting 10 percent or more of their sales from online channels—twice as many companies as have hit that mark today. And 11 percent expect to be spending a majority of their advertising budgets online by then.

Most companies today don’t integrate their online and offline marketing efforts; companies that use online tools across the full spectrum of marketing activities are much more likely to do so.

Source: McKinsey