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August 2008
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October 2008

Should your company blog?

iStock_000004684908XSmall.jpgThere are a lot of blog posts out there about whether companies should create blogs of their own. Blogging seems to be an entry point that most marketing people can easily wrap their heads around. For me it's always come down to five questions and the answer to all five has to be yes. Those five questions are:

  1. Are you listening to your online community? - Are you spending a minimum of two hours a day searching, reading Google alerts or using a monitoring tool like Radian6?
  2. Do you have something unique to say? - How will you differetntiate yourself from other blogs and other companies? This could be your people, the information you publish or other forms of thought leadership.
  3. Are you willing and able to say it? - Can you talk about your industry and are you willing to put it out there?
  4. Are you willing to be challenged and criticized? - This goes with the turf. You have to be able to facilitate conversation in a respectful manner to grow a community.
  5. Are you willing and able to dedicate the resources to succeed? - People always underestimate this one. A good rule for this to succeed is to have one person dedicated to the success of your strategy for a minimum of 4 hours per day (2 hours of which is listening and commenting). That is one half of a full time person's week. Have staffing plans in place as you grow and start realizing your success.

Here is a visual decision tree that I use to see if clients/readers/individuals should create a blog. I'm a visual person and these help me think things through.

So, should my company blog?

blog decision tree.png

My caveats:

  • Identifying a voice is a next step once you're past this point
  • I know not everyone should create a blog, but it's what companies "get"
  • A blog is not always the ideal entry point with every audience, audience analysis will tell you more

What are your thoughts on this? Would you add any other questions? Do you think any of these are not necessary? Let me know what you think.


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How old is the population of Facebook?

fofb_cover_250.jpgWith the latest version of my Face of Facebook eBook, some interesting comparison stats have emerged. I have already shared the explosive growth numbers by country. In this post I want to talk about the age of Facebook and more specifically the growth of some key audiences. Note that all data is collected directly from Facebook's advertising management system and was updated on September 15th.

The 30+ audience is the fastest growing segment of Facebook.

If we look at the total makeup of Facebook in the US, it is still heavily skewed to the under 25 crowd. By volume, the 18-21 group is the largest population. This is followed by 22-25 and 13-17 respectively.

USfacebookpopulation.png
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When you look at growth of the population by volume there is a similar pattern, but it has slightly different spread. In the following chart you can see that the college 18-21 population grew by the most users. Much of this can be correlated by the back-to-school rush happening now. Past that point, however, you will notice that the 31-36 and 36-41 groups added the third and fourth most users for the month.

UStotalpopulationgainbyage.png
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If you were to stop there you may think there is little potential for the 30+ audience. But that is a hasty decision. Take a look at the followiung chart that shows the pace of growth over the past month. The 30+ segments have the first through fourth top spots. Overall the 40-50 segment is the most explosive of all. Growth in the 50+ segment was close to the 26-30 segment and surpassed all segments below 25.

UStotalpercentagepopulationgain.png
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I will be sure to keep an eye on this trend in the future. What other stats do you want to see? Would having this on a per-country basis be beneficial? Let me know, I want this to add as much value for you as possible.


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The Face of Facebook; free eBook (volume 2)

fofb_cover_250.jpgNew updates for volume 2 (August-September 2008). Download the updated report here (3.9Mb, PDF).

As a marketer and blogger, there is no shortage of noise about Facebook as a marketing platform. One of my struggles has been to decipher what is accurate and what is mis-guided hyperbole.

I took it upon myself to get some answers using Facebook's own ad targeting system and I created this comprehensive eBook for marketers to give you a snapshot of what the real face of Facebook looks like on a Global and US level.

The report answers the following questions:


  • What country populations are growing the fastest?
  • What US age groups are growing fastest?
  • What does the global population look like on Facebook?
  • What is the age/gender breakdown of the US Facebook population?
  • How many US members are over the age of 25/30/40?
  • What marketing options can I use to reach my audience?
  • How much is it going to cost to reach them?

Download the report here (3.9Mb, PDF)

Here is the SlideShare version. It's easiest to see in full screen mode.

This is a report that I will be updating on a monthly basis to show how the population is changing and how marketers can respond. Is there anything else that you want to see?


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Global Facebook growth (Aug-Sept)

facebook_logo.jpgI am prepping my update to the Face of Facebook eBook on Monday and wanted to share the first set of comparison growth data with you. As I do this for a longer period of time, this will become more valuable.

Here is a look at the top 25 percentage changes month over month.

percentage_change_top25.png

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Here is a look at the top 25 in terms of the actual gain. You can see Chile's huge gain of over 1,000,000 users.

population_change_top25.png

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Here is the actual data from the charts above. You'll notice that Ecuador is new to the site this month, hence the 100% gain in users. Argentina nearly doubled their userbase in the past 30 days. Uruguay and Belgium saw 60%+ gains.

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Look for the updated PDF on Monday afternoon. It will have a number of new information as I can now show growth (and some contraction in certain cases).


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Vegas or bust; live from Blog World Expo

BlogWorldSpeaker08_135pix.gifI am in Las Vegas for the next couple of days for Blog Word Expo 2008. This is my first Blog World and it's shaping up to be a fantastic event. I have the pleasure of running a panel tomorrow morning at 11:30am with two very incredible people, Neil Vineberg and Louis Gray. If you want to ask a question, leave a comment on this post or shoot me an email. I'll send the response on Twitter.

Micromedia: The Next Big, Small Thing - Room F303 This session shows marketers what the true power of services like Twitter, FriendFeed, Pownce, Flickr and Facebook have on a micro level. Also known as "micro blogging", micromedia has exploded with the growth of mobile technology and lets us look into the future of platform-agnostic marketing. Don't be left behind.

If you're in town for the conference please stop by for the panel or make sure we connect. My mobile number is 216-408-3312 and my email is mattdickman@gmail.com. Looking forward to meeting you.


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Do one thing well

There is a lot to be said about doing one thing very well. Services like Twitter started as a way to update friends on what you are doing and it has stayed true to its mission. Other services have started simple and have fallen victim to feature creep and trying to be everything to everyone.

I am particularly fond of online applications that have some focus, use the medium very well and extend the focus in strategic, well-planned ways.

Take this new site called Umbrella Today. If you go to the site and enter your zip code, it tells you whether or not you need an umbrella that day. Super simple, very useful and they extend it to mobile very logically and at the right point in the interaction.

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Once you see if you need an umbrella, they offer you an option to see if you would like an SMS alert should you need an umbrella in the future.

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Simplification of complex systems and applications is a niche market in itself. This is a perfect example, think about how many clicks and how much reading it takes you to find out the answer to this simple question on a weather site.

There are very few sites that can maintain their focus, but those that do remain useful and relevant. What examples of simple websites or programs do you love?


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The rundown on Facebook

0462A113-0D87-4A72-9370-1304A3937F19.jpgI had the pleasure of appearing on Luke Armour's comeback episode of his podcast, The Rundown. Luke works for me here at FH, but I promise you he asked me to appear and I did not coerce him in any way. No, really I swear I didn't.

Luke's been podcasting for some time and it really does show in the production quality of the episode. If you're interested in listening I think you will learn something new. Check out our conversation about my new Facebook ebook here. He even throws in a little nugget at the very end to reward people who listen all the way through.


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More on the new Microsoft ad

I posted the new ad from Microsoft last night as soon as it came across my YouTube filter. Like it or not, it's working. I just pulled this chart from Nielsen's BlogPulse site looking at the blog chatter between Microsoft and Apple.

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Note that the only point where Microsoft passes Apple is yesterday's ad release. I think if you are Microsoft looking at the results from an ad that is solely created to create conversations, you have succeeded. How would you try to measure the value of the conversation online? What metrics or formulas have you seen?

The challenge for Microsoft and their agency is how they follow up in act two.

Make sure you weigh in on the ad by voting below:


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Making Microsoft more personal

If you haven't seen the new Microsoft ad staring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, here it is. I think if you were Microsoft and were trying to become more personal and less corporate, this is a good step in that direction.

So, what are your thoughts? Is this a better move to take on Apple and HP head-to-head? Is this too offbeat for you? Does it connect you more with the brand or do you feel the same? Vote below.


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Trend spotting through visualization

A few months ago I came across an interesting site that takes RSS feeds and creates tag clouds (a map where the words used most appear larger) from the content it finds. I want to share how I've been using this service as a competitive advantage.

When you read a blog, even if you read it consistently over time, it is hard to see trends emerge. This tool makes it very clear what has a person's attention. Take a look at the following examples with blogs I read often and see if the cloud matches your perception of what you think they write.

Techno//Marketer:
Picture 1.png

My del.icio.us feed:
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Conversation Agent:
Picture 4.png

Logic+Emotion:
Picture 5.png

Louis Gray:
Picture 7.png

Web Strategist:
Picture 8.png

Seth Godin:
Picture 6.png

I hope this adds a new option to your toolkit and helps you to see things differently.


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