Experimenting is a part of working in the online space. The media, search, and social landscapes are constantly in flux. Standards come and go, and the daily feed of information is closer to real time than it ever has been. To be any good at interactive marketing you have to experiment. You have to question the assumptions about the way search engine's function, the way information can be taken in, and the value of various marketing tactics.
One of the ways I choose to experiment is by periodically changing how I keep up with information online. There have always been a few staple blogs that I read to keep up with discussions about particular niches, but for the most part I keep my media diet in a changing state to keep up with the media's own rapid rate of fluctuation. Sometimes I'm subscribed to hundreds of blogs; sometimes I'm subscribed to five. Sometimes all I do is scan Twitter and other times all I do is Tumble. Most of the time I mix and match, and I think that's probably true for most people whose work relates to online media.
PSFK made an interesting comment in a post recently that they are trying to become The Economist of ideas -- not only with their blog, but with their Twitter feed. One reader said that they hardly read anything now besides the PSFK Twitter feed which links to more than just what gets posted on PSFK. I'm considering trying this out for awhile. I think it will be an interesting test not only of PSFK's trends coverage, but also of Twitter as an information source. I've never subscribed to a twitter feed via RSS before so I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like.
What do you think? What's your favorite way to keep up with information online? What platforms are your favorite and how do you experiment?
p.s. Google Reader is coming up strong with the like/share options.
Besides books, I don't read anything on print anymore, and so I don't see print ads very often either. But, last Thursday while I waited for my car to be fixed at Walmart I took the opportunity to immerse myself in a fishing magazine and its advertisements. Print ads don't have to connect a reader to a website, but there were few ads that didn't try in some way. Most of the ads would append a url to the end of the body copy, and leave it at that. But, some of them tried a little harder. Intriguingly, the two ads that I think did the best at connecting readers to their websites had completely different strategies for converting users who actually got to the website: one built a dead end website, the other built a busy street.
As an interactive agency, our biggest expense is our people. Hiring a new employee is a big investment, and potentially a risky one as well. This is made more difficult because the interactive industry is growing, and is highly competitive. There are lot of good companies vying for a limited number of exceptional people. Over time our approach to hiring has evolved based on a rather unlikely template. We've decided to approach hiring new employees more like college basketball programs approach recruiting talented players.
Why? College basketball is highly competitive. In fact, it's more competitive than most industries out there. Plus, everyone has to play by the same rules. This means that the biggest differentiator a team can have versus it's competition is the talent-level of their players.
So how do the great teams go about getting more talented players than their competition? College basketball teams don't post ads on websites and wait for the applications to flood in. They scout, identify and recruit talent that fits their needs. Great companies used to do the same thing with corporate recruiters. But, with the advent of tools like linkedin, it's easier than ever to proactively scout for talent. Companies can identify potential employees with nothing more than a few minutes searching.
But, changing from a hiring mindset to a recruiting mindset also shifts the way you approach the interview process. Each touchpoint with a potential hire is an interaction with your brand. It's the business equivalent of a high school athlete making a campus visit. If the applicant has to answer a series of generic pre-interview questions by email, is blown off by a distracted team member when they come for the in person interview, and has to sit uncomfortably in the lobby for an extended period of time; then the chances are the applicant is going to judge your company based on those interactions. And if those interactions are negative then you're at a disadvantage from the start. Talented people aren't really "hired" by companies, they "choose" to work there. If you give them a reason to say no, chances are they'll take it.
1. There are rules.
2. Changing the rules can make the game more interesting.
3. Context determines strategy. There is a time and place to build hotels on Baltic Avenue.
4. There is a point, when the game has stretched into the early hours of the morning, when winning is more about not giving up than it is about having the right strategy.
5. There are always surprises: jails to go to, fees to pay, and (if you're lucky) jackpots to collect.
If you've been keeping up with the Dachis group then you may already be familiar with some of the ideas I'm going to present concerning social business. In that case, this post aims to serve as a case study for you to reference. If you aren't familiar with the term social business, distinct from social media, this post should serve as an introduction.
Instead of focusing on using social media as a tool to broadcast marketing messages, social businesses seek to use social media as a connection between consumers and companies. Perhaps the most compelling reason to engage in this sort of business is that it simultaneously increases the number and depth of customer touch points, giving brands more frequent and deeper interaction with customers on an individual level. With that in mind, one of the most important tasks for a social business is to develop a corporate culture and a corresponding set of tools that will facilitate social involvement from everyone in the company, rather than from one or two individuals. Skipping past this crucial step has a tendency to create reoccurring problems and render the company's outward efforts less effective.