In Rome, Do as the Yelpers Do

Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello, a must-see in Charlottesville

During my winter holiday in Charlottesville, every meal we enjoyed at a restaurant was at a well recommended Yelp venue. Similarly my colleague Chris Pilbeam remarked that every venue he visited on a recent trip was suggested by travelers on TripAdvisor.

I guess the old adage should be revised: When in Rome do as the Yelpers do. After all, 100 million other people are using Yelp, too, and it ranks as a top 40 U.S. website according to Comscore.

All jokes aside, local search marketing now extends well beyond traditional SEO mainstays Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

If you have local business getting reviewed on Foursquare, Yelp!, TripAdvisor, Google+ Local, and perhaps Facebook’s new Nearby service is critical to your success.
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The Yogi Berra School of Marketing

Yogi Berra
Image by cliff1066

Pitchers and catchers report today, marking the beginning of the long journey to the World Series. What better way to celebrate than apply some of Yogi Berra’s quotes to marketing?

I believe in speaking to an audience using their vernacular. That’s why I love Yogi Berra, and his terribly funny euphemisms for life, which just absolutely drive grammar perfectionists crazy.

Here are my five favorite Yogisms as they apply to marketing:

“It ain’t over till it’s over.”

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The End of the Social PR Revolution

Soup Lines
Image by OakleyOriginals

In building the program for xPotomac (February 25th), I sought to address a sea change in media evolution. That change spells the end for the social PR revolution, a marketing movement embodied by brand-led conversations over the past seven years.

We are currently experiencing a throttling of branded, online grassroots power. Specifically, it’s becoming harder and harder for marketers to be seen with branded earned media and social updates.

This evolution is best evidenced by the increasing role of owned and paid content placement (as discussed, content marketing is the 21st century nice description of advertising), and social or native advertising.

Other signs evidence this change, too. Social search and stronger policing of black hat SEO by Google has put a premium on paid search again. Facebook’s use of Edgerank to force companies and individuals alike to pay for attention is another harbinger of this fate.

The rise of big data and the forthcoming wearable computing revolution — themes that run throughout xPotomac — will cause a further throttling of online grassroots pipes.

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Instapocalypse and the Permission War

Image by tres.jolie

How’s your Instagram account treating you now? Feel better now that Instagram restored some of its original terms of service, and recommitted to observing permission marketing norms with photos?

It seems like every four or five months we experience some outrageous Internet drama where tech and marketing bloggers declare the death of a brand.

Instagram, Chick-fil-a, Netflix, Walmart, etc. have all been condemned for some egregious act of anti-socialness. And then of course, the brands don’t die, and in most cases correct the wrong, recover, and prosper. In the case of Netflix, they are making more money than ever before.

Yet the “Instapocalypse” was different. Like other faux deaths, the network’s daily user losses seem to be negligible, but Instagram conceded promptly to its users, and retracted its intellectual terms that harnessed users’ photos for commercial purposes.

Instagram users won a larger mobile battle in the Permission Marketing War.

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Exiting Facebook as a Marketing Vehicle

Image by pshab

For a few months now, I have been reducing my marketing presence on Facebook.

Generally, I don’t enjoy the conversational tone, and I believe Facebook is losing market power.

Another aspect is to create a safer place where I don’t have workplace colleagues and contacts reading my feed expecting the latest and greatest Geoff news (Woo. Hoo.). I’d rather have a closer family and friend experience there.

This seems to have happened by happenstance, anyway. In fact, of my current consulting and speaking clients, only one head of marketing is a friend on Facebook.

The linchpin was seeing organic unpaid engagement drop on blog posts.

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Does Google Deserve More Credit?

Sometimes I think Google deserves more credit.

This is not a defense of Google+, anti-trust issues facing the company, or the apparent sunsetting of Feedburner. Rather, more admiration for the company’s overall approach and success online in recent years.

When I learned Google had scrapped its facial recognition technology because the negative uses outweighed the good, I felt they were the better player of the big companies operating in this space. It’s not an isolated incident.

Google changed its privacy earlier this year, uniting its many disparate policies across different products into one holistic company-wide statement. The company waged an extensive public relations and advertising effort to explain the new policy to the general public.

When was the last time Facebook did that? Never, to my knowledge. You just log in and find everything switched without any communication whatsoever.
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