Tag Archives: web 2.0

More answers and links for vet practice managers

Let’s say you’re a practice manager for a veterinary clinic or animal hospital, and you realize you need to change your current marketing budget. Like last year and the year before, your marketing spend heaps way too much money on print and other tactics that are missing many of today’s consumers.

So what do want to learn most desperately when a skinny, still-slightly-contageous (cough, cough) marketing geek climbs behind the podium at your conference (organized by the AAHA)? Well, I’ll tell you.

What follows are links to resources that should come in handy if you live in the world of a practice manager, and will come in particularly handy if you attended my presentations. These are a Greatest Hits of sorts, based on the questions posed at the end of each of four presentations, and in emails I’ve received as recently as last night, requesting specific answers to question.

First, here are the topics we covered, linked to their mind maps — which served as outline during the presentations:

Most Popular Questions Posed

I took a while to post this because I wanted it to be comprehensive, and until even last night, I was getting requests for specific information. The profession of veterinary medicine is clearly waking up to the ways a strong online presence can help grow a practce and keep it vital!

Q: If you say a site that is “content managed” is ideal, what is the best person in my organization to manage that web content?

A: The simple answer is it’s the person closest to the authoritative content. Content management systems have opened businesses up to a greater intimacy with their customers by making web sites more useful. If you know that a business’s site will provide you with realiable, time-sensitive information, you’ll return to the site more often. And ostensibly, you’ll be more ready to refer the site — and the business — to others. What sort of information can an animal hospital site provide? You do not have to talk about animal diseases or treatments. Other general sites do that. Talk about how your services may be accessed (hours? phone numbers?), the way your services are provided and what I can expect if I go to you. Know your audience, and provide every scrap of information that could be useful.

This will require someone close enough to the answers, but obviously not a veterinarian whose hours would better serve the business by being devoted to billable work. Is there an assistant or clerical person who feels good about writing short snippets of information? Expose this person to all the facts needed and then let that person go!

Q: Regarding search engine marketing: What if I have a new site that is competing against large, established practices for the same keyworks. These older sites are “owning” the keywords. My site barely shows up in search engine results pages for them. Help!

A: You’ve done the first step. You realize there is a problem. One should consider a site’s real home page to be a search engine results page! The first step is to do a compehensive inventory of all keyword phrases you want to go after. The odds are, your competitor won’t be present for all phrases for all major search engines. You can start by creating content that is optimized for those unclaimed phrases. As for the others, realize that search engines favor age over “youth” when they look at web sites, so your new site will be viewed skeptically by Google, et al. So the second step is to find more backlinks than your competing sites have. Truly high-quaity backlinks can confer credibility fastHere’s a post to help you establish backlinks.

Q: Can you help me read up on social network marketing?

A: It’s the hottest top around in online marketing, and that was clear from the volume of questions I received immediately after my presentations, and subsequently, via email. Luckily there is a ton of material out there. Start with my post on why Facebook is a good set of “training wheels” for those unsure about how to begin. This post specifically addresses why Facebook is superior in its ability to instruct a user than Twitter. For an overall map of the social network space, I posted one nine months ago that gives you a taste of its size and complexity. The most valuable aspect of the map is the categories. You don’t have to follow many. Just think of the types of social sites that might have users talk about you.

Yelp was discussed a great deal in my AAHA talk. Here is a link to that outstanding On The Media podcast, where Bob Garfield (of AdAge fame) explores what you can do when someone dishes dirt about your business on Yelp and elsewhere (the short answer: Precious little! But it helps to know when dirt has been dished). This link to OnTheMedia.org includes an embedded sound player, a way to download the MP3, and even a link to the transcript, if you’d prefer to read instead of listen. It’s a great show overall — I cannot recommend it more highly for understanding how media of all types are influencing us … and are themselves influenced, by politics, business and society.

Q: I like the idea of a new media refrigerator magnet to promote my practice. Tell me more about Digital Pet Parade.

A: That’s the Facebook widget that can also be viewed in higher-end smart phones, and can even be embedded in the blogs of your biggest fans (by one fairly recent count there are over 70 million blogs out there — certainly some of those are written by people your practice delighted). Read my post and then contact me if you’d like to be part of the beta test for this exciting marketing tool.

Did I miss any?

Let me know in the comments section below what other questions you’d like answered!

Is academia failing us by not teaching Web 2.0 skills?

Your help is needed. I just received this email from a colleague:

Jeff,

Are there curricula available from schools, online, etc. where one can learn about and improve your interactive skills? All facets of the interactive world. I’m at the University of Nebraska Journalism School and they don’t currently offer too much education in this area and the students and even faculty are asking “Where to you go to learn and study more about a career in this rapidly growing field and learn the necessary skills?”

Thanks,
Dan

 

I’ve already been made painfully aware of the vacuum in academia, as far as educating students on the skills needed in a Web 2.0 world.

One example: Last month an intern with a marketing firm I know told her boss she didn’t have a Facebook account because, “That online social network stuff is a waste of time.”

Yes, I know Facebook can become a monumental way to screw off instead of work, but in a world where we are only as useful to our employers as the information we can access –and the network of talent that will help us gain this access — this is dangerous ignorance. Facebook has a place because it helps us maintain and expand our network of trusted sources.

So, okay. I’m off my soapbox.

Now I’m appealing to my network: Where are the best educational programs for tomorrow’s knowledge workers? And are there ways that students in far-flung places — such as Nebraska — can convince their teachers to add these curricula to their own?

Comment here, or through my Twitter or Friendfeed accounts and I’ll be sure to consolidate what I’ve learned here.

Cheers to the barnacle app: a useful new entry in the Web 2.0 lexicon

Last week I reported on a fun little social lubricant called Foamee. It is a third party trifle completely reliant (at least as of this writing) on Twitter. The objective: If you’re a member of Twitter, you pledge to buy someone a beer. Foamee keeps tabs on these declarations.

Anatomy of a Barnacle AppAs I pointed out in my post, this application is part of a larger trend. Namely, that of launching a shoestring site that is financially independent of a larger site, but completely dependent on it for survival. It’s an interesting paradox, and all but cries out for a new piece of jargon. You know, something to toss out casually during your next new media PowerPoint presentation.

Enter Joshua Porter of Bokardo Design. In his blog, Joshua dubbed this type of site a barnacle app. I think the term has legs (and the graphic above backs me up on this — at least, a barnacle has “feeding legs”).

Do you agree? Is this a term worthy of surviving past its inevitable 15 minutes of fame in Wired‘s Jargon Watch listing (a recent example)?

Also: What is your favorite barnacle app, and why?

Generation C stands for co-creator — or perhaps chaos?

I don’t envy the marketer of the not-so-distant future who faces a world where the really good alphabetic generations are taken. In the meantime, several “Gens” after Generation X, we’ve circled back to the other end of the alphabet. Or so it appears with the emergence of Generation C. I’d frankly ignore the label, and its vague “official” definition, if it didn’t so accurately describe the group I and my team are spending time with. They are a powerful group.

This gen, although it seems to span more than one formal age group, is united by being “digitally native.” They have embraced Web 2.0 as a given — perhaps even a birthright — and are behind much user-generated content. In other words, they participate in the co-creation of products and services.

I see my role as straddling two worlds. One is populated by those who use networked technology only when they must, and who comprehend little of its potential. Perhaps this is only common sense, because the potential for benefit to this group of peers is minimal. After all, if a network consists of other non-networking “nodes,” it is no network at all.

By contrast, the other world is a vital, teeming network. Although it is smaller, it is far more measurable in terms of behavior of its inhabitants.

If you are responsible for a brand, and you aren’t a member of Generation C, you need to realize that it is possible your brand is being manipulated (co-created) at this very moment. This may not be a big deal for your brand. If the majority of your consumers are not Gen C’s, there could be no potential for harm. But if they are, and you aren’t there to observe and comment on the process of co-creation — watch out.

In last year’s Diet Coke + Mentos Experiments, Mentos immediately “got it.” They recognized the value of this product co-creation. Coke was far slower to grasp the opportunity, and in the process looked sadly out of touch in the eyes of their Gen C audience. The Ford Tahoe debacle is even more extreme in its backwash of bad publicity.*

Generation C stands for something neutral, like Content or Co-creator. But it can also be construed as an older generations’ worst nightmare: Chaos.


*Update: A far better example was posted after this. Apple gets it. Oh yes.

 

You’re it: Tagging, social bookmarking and marketing

If the internet is getting smarter, it is only because we are being carefully watched. The video Web 2.0: The Machine is Us/ing Us brilliantly demonstrates what I mean. It shows an internet that has become more valuable by connecting us through observed preferences.

A link to the Web 2.0 videoThose preferences are observed through our past behavior — always the best predictor of future action. The video explains: “100 billion times per day, humans are clicking on a web page … teaching the Machine what we think is important.”

I recommend you follow this video, by Michael Wesch of Kansas State University, through to its completion. The payoff is fascinating and sobering.

Some of this behavior is passive.

Merely clicking on a web page, for example, is something that even my mother does. She needs no special training or instruction. Yet systems such as the recently unveiled Google Personalized Search are improving her browsing experience by customizing content based on her past searches — and even her web browsing history.

Don’t think this has gone unnoticed by those in the search engine optimization business. Google Personalized Search is a major shift in the optimization game, a phenomenon that’s sending us all back to our playbooks.

Other behavior is more active.

Specifically I’m talking about the type of tagging that takes place in online social networks. According to a recent Pew research study, “28% of internet users have tagged or categorized content online such as photos, news stories or blog posts.” On any given day, this report says that 7% of internet users have tagged or categorized online content. To put that in perspective, that’s seven times the number of people who on that day have listened to a podcast.

So who is doing all of this tagging? Not surprisingly, they’re more likely to be under 40, with higher than average incomes and education levels.

Pew has no way to report on whether this tagging behavior is growing in popularity. This was the organization’s first ever research on tagging. But Hitwise reports that sites that enable tagging, such as Del.icio.us and Flickr, are gaining in popularity.

In just three months, according to Hitwise, Flickr grew in popularity by 140%. By that I mean that visits to this photo sharing site accounted for .029% of visits a week in January, up from less than .012% three months earlier.

In the same time span, Del.ic.ious traffic grew by over 600%. Visits to that online recommendation site increased to .0036%, up from .0005% in October, 2006. (Thanks for your help on these stats, Wendy Davis of MediaPost.)

Here’s a Wired rundown of some of the best tagging and social bookmarking sites. Tag, you’re it!