How to create an enchanting event

Ever since I read Guy Kawasaki’s book Enchantment, I have looked for products and services that meet Guy’s high standards for enchanting your customer.

Last week, I found an enchanting experience in the form of the GSMI Blogging Strategies Summit. The event enchanted me because it provided great content, intimacy, the right attendees, personal service, and an intriguing location.

If you host events as part of your marketing outreach, I hope your next event contains these essential elements:

1. Great content

A successful experience begins with great content. It’s obvious, right? But most events I’ve attended — even excellent ones — do not give your uniformly great content. Lurking in the agenda are always a few dud speakers who have you running for a self-imposed break.

But I was impressed by every session I attended at the Blogging Strategies Summit. The purpose of the event was to share best practices in corporate blogging and community management. The speakers ranged from Duane Forrester of Bing (who discussed the importance of optimizing your content for search marketing) to Carisa Miklusak, CEO of tMedia Strategies, who led workshops on blogging for women and executives.

Duane Forrester

At some point you’d think that so much focus on a single topic would lapse into the realm of geekiness or irrelevancy. Such was not the case at the Blogging Strategies Summit. Why? Because all the topics, however esoteric, tied back business needs everyone cares about, such as servicing customers or improving your brand.

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How the NFL & Facebook build the Coors Light Brand

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For Coors Light, winning the hearts and minds of men aged 21-34 means serving up a different kind of brew that combines the excitement of the NFL and the reach of Facebook. The official beer of the NFL has worked with my employer Razorfish to launch its first-ever Coors Light Football page. In my view, Coors Light Football demonstrates the increasingly sophisticated ways that companies are using Facebook to create an experience that builds their brands. Among the features of the new page:

  • Silver Bullet Pick ‘Em. Football fans accumulate points by predicting weekly game winners. And in the social tradition of Facebook, they can challenge their friends to top their scores. On a weekly basis, Coors Light rewards $100 gift certificates to participants, which can be used to purchase Coors Light merchandise. Gamers are also eligible to win a home entertainment center.
  • Coach’s Cold Call. Type your friends’ phone numbers into this application, and the next time they pick up their phones, the gravelly voice of Mike Ditka will be on the line telling them to drop what they’re doing and grab a Coors Light. (And yes Coach Ditka worked with Razorfish to patiently record voice-overs customized for different names.)
  • Bobble-Nator. Capturing the nostalgic value of the Bobble Head doll, the Bobble-Nator makes it possible for you to create a Bobble Head of yourself and use it as your Facebook profile picture. And I think it takes a lot of courage to do that unless your name happens to be Tom Brady.

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Coors Light Football continues a Coors Light/Razorfish collaboration that has built the Coors Light brand in association with the NFL. As reported recently in the Charlotte Business Journal, during the 2009 NFL season Razorfish launched the Coors Light NFL digital campaign, which featured Coors Light-sponsored content on digital properties such as ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, and NFL.com. As part of the campaign, Razorfish created a tool that fantasy football fans could use to analyze potential trades. Throughout the course of the campaign, the Coors Light Facebook page doubled its fan base, and people spent an average of 3 minutes per visit on the Coors Light mobile site.

With its latest effort, Coors Light shows how leading brands are upping the stakes for having a presence on Facebook. In a recent report, “How to Create an Effective Brand Presence on Facebook,” Forrester Research analyst Melissa Parrish notes that accumulating 100,000+ fans is just table stakes for succeeding on Facebook. Melissa points out that creating engaging content is among the other essential must-haves for extending one’s brand to Facebook. That’s what companies like Coors Light and Mercedes-Benz are doing with the use of rich media, while other brands like IKEA have employed Facebook to offer creative, smart promotions.

In “The 8 Success Criteria for Facebook Page Marketing,” Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter Group mentions the importance of providing a cohesive brand, for instance by creating custom applications or tabs that resonate with one’s brand. Coors Light Football is linked to the official Coors Light Facebook page in order to benefit from the natural traffic generated by the nearly 400,000 people who are fans of the Coors Light page. The Facebook page also cross-links to the Coors Light website via a Silver Ticket contest through which you can win tickets to NFL games. Moreover the Coors Light website promotes the Facebook page (Razorfish advocates this tight integration rather than completely handing over one’s brand to a third-party cloud site).

I hope you’ll check out the new page and let me know what you think of it. Now are you ready for some football?

Does your brand get Facebook?

A new Altimeter Group report identifies eight success criteria for Facebook page marketing — and points out that brands have a long way to go applying those criteria successfully. I encourage marketers to read it. The report is free, and Altimeter is a leading authority. (Note: my employer Razorfish was among the 34 contributors.) Now that I’ve read the report, I have a few observations of my own:

  • The very existence of the report is significant. It wasn’t too long ago when social media pundits questioned whether brands even have a rightful place in the social world. It wasn’t cool to suggest that a big corporation can and should use social to build its brand. “People want to talk with other people, not brands,” was the conventional wisdom. But conventional wisdom was wrong. Consumers are happy to interact with brands — in-store, online, and yes, in the social world. But as the report points out, companies need a lot of help figuring out the rules of the game for social branding. By identifying eight critical success factors for Facebook page marketing, Altimeter seeks to help define those rules. For instance, brands need to participate in a dialog. SAP regularly responds to posts on its Facebook wall with meaningful comments from a real person. Sounds like common sense, right? And yet only half companies assessed by Altimeter were deemed to have achieved “maturity” for participating in dialogue. But I wonder if the social media pundits share some of the responsibility for the lack of maturity for putting so much emphasis on empowering consumers and not enough on helping companies also become empowered?
  • I noticed the report did not identify transparency as a success factor. The omission of transparency again shows how social is maturing. There was a time when transparency was all the rage — as if being confessional was a requirement for effective branding in the social world. But being transparent does not equate to being a good marketer. Look at Apple — a great brand because it retains a mystique by not giving away too much. Unfortunately, tansparency has become a catch-all for marketers too lazy to exercise good judgment and discretion. Marketers need not reveal how the sausage is made or invite consumers to explore every nook and cranny of their products and services in order to be effective. Instead, I like how Altimeter advocates authenticity — for example revealing the names of people from your company who are interacting with consumers on your Facebook page. Or making sure the people who manage your Facebook page write their own replies to customers using a conversational tone rather than outsourcing the conversation to someone else and claiming it as your own. But, more so than having an authentic style? Being authentic to your brand. And therein lies a crucial difference between authenticity and transparency. A company that wishes to maintain a mystique about its brand should exercise greater discretion about what and how much it says. (By the way, Augie Ray of Forrester Research discusses the difference between authenticity and transparency here.)

The complete success factors:

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For more analysis, check out this blog post by author Jeremiah Owyang.

Crowdsourcing Charlene Li’s new book

Conventional wisdom says that you cannot write a book by committee.  Charlene Li of Altimeter Group is trying to dispel that idea, to some degree.

As she’s researched and written her forthcoming book Open, Charlene has relied on her blog and Twitter account to collect ideas such as the title of her book.  It looks like her approach is to ask very targeted questions (“international examples of ‘open’ organizations and leaders needed”) to meet a need, which I suspect sparks better input than open-ended queries.

Crowdsourcing is nothing new, but I believe thought leaders like Charlene are taking the right approach in reaching out to readers and followers for ideas.  At the least, the very act of soliciting input raises visibility for her book in the early going, and I’d like to think that even rejected ideas might prove useful for another endeavor down the road.

Firms like Forrester are looking at ways to crowdsource their research.  The Forresters of the world (correctly) take a careful, measured approach, assessing whether it’s possible to actually create a valid sample through, say, the Twitter universe.

What’s the best example of crowdsourcing you’ve seen in the development of thought leadership?