Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Conversation Marketing Pyramid

The Conversation Marketing Pyramid Model

How does the continuous use of social media for engaging and building loyal customers fit together with campaigned-based marketing? And how does a social media agency like Zipipop see its business place in the marketing world. The process of trying to sketch an answer to these questions inspired the creation of "The Conversation Marketing Pyramid" model. Like all models it is not perfect, since it inevitably fails to capture the complexity and crossover activities that take place in reality, but it hopefully helps give a snap shot of the new marketing relationships – particularly to those outside of the industry.

The aim is to have loyal customers discussing inside social media and generating viral word-of-mouth marketing for your brand/prodcut. The ultimate example of this is summed up in the joke: "How do you know someone has an iPhone? – They tell you!"

If you create a superb product this nirvana could potentially happen by itself, however, it is much more likely to be reached if the various marketing strategies have been successfully implemented in a convergent way.

A convergent approach to reaching marketing heaven

Layer 1

Underlying everything is a great product or service (since in the open world of social media you can't fool people for long).

Layer 2

Continuous customer engagement and support using the established social media channels (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. – wherever your target audience hangs out) and community platforms for collaborating and rewarding the most loyal customers. This is a core part of Zipipop's strategic consulting and training related to setting up Community Managers and Social Media Teams to empower employees across organizations to participate effectively in social media.

Layer 3

Marketing campaigns designed to raise awareness together with extended social media afterlife strategies. Zipipop can help marketing agencies in concepting the core social media elements of a campaign so that it connects with the existing communities and lives on inside social media discussions.

Layer 4

Specialist digital mobile and social media apps that can authentically be connected with existing communities and potentially kickstarted with the support of loyal customers being supported in Layer 2. These apps need to be relevant, useful or entertaining.

Layer 5

If everything else has been done well at this point the customers will have become the best evangelists. However, it is still important to use social media monitoring tools to listen closely and react quickly to ameliorate any negative comment while accentuating and sustaining positive conversations.

Previously at the beginning of the blog entry:

Last month I was a speaker at SIME Helsinki where there was a good deal of discussion about how social media and apps should be integrated with the more established marketing channels; for example: Is the "big creative idea" still important? Is mass communication coming to an end? How to create convergence across the media landscape? etc.

The general consensus was that there is a greater need than ever for highly creative marketing ideas; however, they need to be designed to generate an afterlife in social media, i.e. the campaign is the kickstarter for a prolonged social media conversation. Some great examples of this are: the Old Spice "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign with over 180 spinoff adverts and tens of millions of views; and The Heineken Italy Activation Milan AC Real Madrid marketing stunt that generated masses of earned media.

Entertaining, useful or relevant

Will Sansom from Contagious Communications used the metaphor of a one-night-stand turning into a long-term relationship. Sansom also reinforced the idea that social media and mobile apps-based advertising needs to be ever more entertaining, useful or relevant (preferably all three). He gave the Carlsberg Where's the Party? mobile app as a good example of this: the mobile web service uses geo-tagging to help people find out where friends are hanging out in the evenings (reminds me of our old Going For One/Zipiko apps). However, I would also suggest that this is a great example of a brand rightfully claiming a space that is appropriate and relevant. In a simple clever way we can also see something similar in the way Valio (the biggest Finnish dairy organization) was quick to claim the space for milk after it was vote the national drink.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bobo Ideas

Constant innovation is a necessity these days. You cannot afford to rest on your laurels, since the rapid spread of information in today's social media turbo-charged web means others will quickly adopt and start using your ideas. So the only strategic option is to stay one step ahead.

Amongst other things Zipipop has a reputation for innovation, which has been achieved through a willingness to think out-of-the-box and take risks. But a lot of this comes from a simple creative tool that we started using right at the beginning of our existence: it is called the "bobo idea".

A bobo idea initiates an micro-brainstorming session at any time of day and in any context. You can think of a bobo as being the seed of a potentially good idea.

How does it work?

When you have an idea that is not necessarily a good one, but you still want to share it to see where it could lead. You say; "Hey, I've got a bobo idea. What if we…"

This immediately tells the listeners to adopt a nonjudgmental, open-minded attitude (like in brainstorming sessions); which means that there is no such thing as a bad bobo – just neutral or good ones.

This simple tool is incredibly liberating and we have notice that many of our clients and partners start using it too.

Why bobo?

My Zipipop co-founder, Helene Auramo, used the word bobo a lot for some unknown reason and we just somehow started using it for this purpose and it has simply stuck. I think it works because it has a naive, unformed feeling that fits very much with this way of thinking and sharing.

Adopting the use the bobo tool has knock on benefits to the whole organizational atmosphere, since it promotes core social media philosophies, such as: sharing, transparency, meritocracy, innovation and the willingness to take risks.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Social Web Services & Paragliding

Can we help you secure 2 million euros in venture funding?

They say a good paraglider is an old one. I have done some paragliding and I would like to go on a specialist course that involves deliberately collapsing your wing – sometimes resulting in the pulling of the emergency shoot. After the course some people give up; since they realize that what they thought was a solid wing can so easily turn into a pocket handkerchief. But there are benefits for those who manage to gain the confidence and skills to right a problematic situation – it could literally be a matter of life and death.

But most paragliding accidents occur as a result of bad choices regarding the weather, the location and required skill levels. After a long drive to a beautiful location it can be very tempting to fly even if the weather conditions are not quite right. At this point you need someone with a cool head to say; let’s sit down, have a picnic, and review the situation.

Since last November Zipipop has been providing concepting and strategic consultancy to startups – particularly in relation to social media. And we warn our clients that the process can potentially be as disturbing as a collapsed paragliding wing, as we endeavor to pull their concept to pieces. However, we do so in a structured way using an analytical process we developed inside Zipipop. We also do a lot of question and answer sparring with the clients; since one of the key roles of a consultant is not to provide information, but to help people understand their own thinking more clearly.

This can be a grueling process, since we are frank and don’t pull our punches. However, the point is not to destroy or dampen spirits, but to help eliminate problems that could become much more costly to fix at a later date. In a way it is a bit like army training: first we break you down and then we build you up again, so that you are stronger, fitter and even more determined to succeed.

But if the client has the right attitude the process can be a lot of fun – since it is a stimulating intellectual roller-coaster ride of brainstorming and idea tuning. We now divide initial sessions into positive and negative – so that we can get the best of both perspectives. And it is crucial that both parties listen closely to each other and respect each other’s expertize at all times.

One client that understood this process was Zokem, with whom we had the pleasure of working with from November 2009 to February 2010. Together with Zokem, KoppiCatch and ArcticStartup we helped moved their “core” offering away from a struggling* social media mobile application aimed at automating status up-dates to Facebook, Twitter, etc, towards the idea of a mobile analytics start-up – their USP is their cutting-edge software for collecting all mobile phone usage data. Initially we were referring to the new concept angle as “Google analytics for your personal life”.

This new approached seems to have helped them in securing 2 million euros in venture funding. We obviously can’t claim credit for this, since the Zokem team is very bright, experienced, and determined; but it is fair to say that we played a significant part in this strategic shift. After our involvement, Meri Kupiainen (co-founder) sent us a thank you email saying:

“You have done an amazing job with us. I must say that this is something that we definitely had to do at this stage, and later might have been too late.”

If you are brave enough to undergo a full Zipipop analysis, we could potentially help you define and refine your concept so that you too have a better chance of raising funding.

* An improved version of the initial consumer offering still exists under the new name of Zoki – Your social assistant. It is promoted on the main Zokem website as a case-study for Zokem’s mobile data gathering capabilities. Zipipop also create the Zoki logo and slogan and gave advice on how it could be developed. The service, however, faces many significant challenges, but the basic idea of a context aware digital assistant that analyses your daily activities and can genuinely help out (be it in your social or daily life) is very compelling; and will no doubt come of age as the technology and analytical experience improves. Who knows, if Zokem becomes the Google for mobile analytics they might just have the resources to make this part of their dream become more of a reality : )

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hubsites – social networks of organizations

Creating neologisms (new words) for internal use can be both helpful and fun – and at Zipipop we have a few in common usage. Making them public, however, can be a bit risky: since you can easily come across as being either pretentious or a bit whacky (neologisms can be associated with some psychotic disorders!). However, sometimes you just cannot find an existing word that sufficiently conveys what you want to communicate and you are forced to invent a new one – hence the word hubsite.

Hubsites should not be confused with the growing term social media hubs; although there are many similarities. But before I try to give a definition I should first provide some background.

We started creating the concept of Hubsites over a year ago because we anticipated that there would be a growing demand for organizations be able to be able to collaborate more effectively with other organizations. The established term extranet comes pretty close to defining what we are calling a hubsite, however, it does not convey how an extranet-type site can be connected into an ever expanding network of other extranets through the use of social media tools and services – thereby transcending the limitations of individual organizational IT infrastructures.

When we first created the initial presentation (see end) we did not know exactly how it could be technically achieved; however, we instinctively knew that the solutions would somehow come through utilizing social media principles and services.

Then last summer, when we joined the Winnovation Network, we were forced to find a way of collaborating effectively with team members in Finland, China, Sweden and Spain. And, after trying Confluence (too clumsy) and looking into Elgg (worthy but needed installing), we ended up primarily using the enterprise microblogging service Yammer; which we found to be the easiest way of instantly improving awareness, making help requests, and sharing information. And this was augmented by Google Sites (fast, easy wiki spaces) and Skype for regular conference calls and one-to-one chats.

This process made us realize that the future of inter-organizational collaboration is not in trying to make customized platforms, but instead mixing up the best of existing social media services to create "collaborative environments".

The principles of the Hubsites Concept are not tied to any particular technology or service (although cloud-based computing is essential to provide common access); but it turned out that the ability of Google Sites to have multiple, shareable "child" sites within the same domain, together with the ability to categorise (label) them around shared "hubs of expertise" or interest, started to make the Hubsites Concept look possible. And then Yammer's new Community Networks capability – where you can invite anyone to join – enhanced the possibilities even further.

So the combination of these two established technologies (Google Sites providing knowledge generation and retrieval tools; Yammer providing awareness and connecting capabilities) now mean that the Hubsites concept can now be made a reality. The challenges are now less about technological implementation, but more about how best to provide sufficient guidance and training to the users to help them adopt new social media-based practices – particularly related to sharing and transparency.

As it transpired the concept was indeed prescient, since in the autumn of last year we started getting many requests from organizations and associations related to how they could improve inter-organizational or cross-project collaboration.

"But collaboration platforms have been around for ages", I hear you say. This is true and there are some very good ones, but how many actually integrate into the everyday workflow of employees? The lack of direct integration has been the downfall of many previous attempts at collaboration and social media integration – since they can be seen as annoying side things they are supposed to use. And how many are flexible, scalable and cheap enough to meet ever changing and growing needs?

It is these challenges that the Hubsite ideas aim to overcome and the exciting thing is that Zipipop has now been commissioned to implement and oversee a very significant trial – based on these ideas – aimed at improving the collaboration of the Finnish OSKE competence clusters.

The trial was commissioned by TEM (the Finnish Ministry of Employment and Economy) and the proposal is based around the use of interconnected Google Sites, Community Yammer networks and Skype tele-conferencing. Zipipop will be conducting user workshops and admin training to try and ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. But the really interesting thing will be to see how the users start to use these simple, powerful and flexible tools to create their own innovative solutions to needs we can not even predict.

And do you want to know a little secret – the technology for the trial will cost absolutely nothing*. That's right, I will say it again, we do not have to pay one cent – since Google Premium accounts only kick in when you have more than 50 users (and even then it's only 40 euros per user).

Another time I'll introduce you to another great Zipipop neologism: bobbing : ) In the meantime we hope you like the presentation and any comments are most welcome.

Note: I am aware that there are some relatively old references on the web to hub sites (two words): meaning sites that have lots of out outbound links; however, a hubsite as such is not an established term. And I have seriously been considering hubnet, as a natural progress from intranet, extranet, hubnet; however, there are many random uses of that term on the web and hubsites can potentially be either private or public. Please help me decide which is best in this SURVEY, where you can also suggest an alternative name.

*Providing current pricing models are not changed in the next four months.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Update of the UpdateFinland Google Roadshow

Yesterday was my last presentation on the UpdateFinland Roadshow. Our presentation was called Working in the Cloud and I basically used Zipipop as a case study of what it means to be a company running its day-to-day operations almost entirely through web-based services, i.e. the cloud.

My aim was to introduce the subject as simply as possible (see
presentation at the end) and I know that I managed to convert some to the benefits of cloud-based IT; although I feel it's going to need a good deal more advocating to get Finland floating on upwards into the cloud en-mass.

There are undeniable benefits in costs, productivity, and improved work environments that will definitely give early-adopters a head start. All the big players (namely Microsoft and Lotus) have, or are working on, cloud-based enterprise solutions; however, Google seems to have taken the initiative with over 2 million businesses and 7 million students already using Google Apps solutions. And in the US they have even started to take the message out into the physical world with billboards.

Google has also upped the ante considerably with last weeks opening of the Google App Marketplace — an iPhone App Store business model but with a focus on business apps. And this is exciting for developers around the world, since it opens up a level sales channel using a proven business model; and we are now considering placing our App Engine-based Zipi Web Builder service there after it has been polished up.*

Google just announced that, alongside a dedicated Lotus migration tool, they now have Microsoft Exchange migration. So reasons not to jump in (or up?) are rapidly diminishing. And for startups the question is a no brainer. For most SMEs, the internet banking level (SSL) security used by Google Apps is more than sufficient, although I appreciate some very large organizations have unique and important concerns regarding data storage. But with the new server farmers being opened up around the world, it would not surprise me that, in the not so distant future, you will be able to choose the location where your data is stored and backed up — which would should placate some European laws regarding the movement of data.

(Update 19 May 2010: Google can already guarantee that some data is stored in Europe and they have also agreed to parts of the European Safe Habour Agreement* for data handling. Also the further Google has to move data in regards to the user the more it costs them – therefore it is most likely to go to the nearest server farm; which in Finland will shortly be the 200+ million euro sever centre in Hamina.)

However, hosted services are already very popular with Finnish students (particularly Google ones: Gmail, Docs, Calendars, Sites, Blogger, etc) – so it is only a matter of time before they demand more collaborative IT environments and start to influence IT decisions within businesses.

It has been a great experience getting to know some of the Nordic Google Team and it was interesting to have the opportunity to slightly adjust my presentation over the three days to try and align it better with the attending audiences (mostly middle-aged SME owners and employees). I guess the X, Ys and Digital Natives don't need any more convincing and already have their heads in the cloud — even if their employers are not quite there yet. But if you are stuck in a organization with outdated and expensive systems, please do try to convert them — and please do send them in our direction if you need any help doing so ; )

However, it looks like I've also managed (fingers crossed) to sell some social media marketing work, so we will continue to be very busy with that while we actively encourage people to
Go Google and build up this relatively new side of our business operations (which we are selling under our ZipiTools banner).

* Here are few links to the Safe Harbour sites courtesy of
The Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman (Tietosuojavaltuutetun
toimisto) Safe Harbour in Finnish.

Google statement where they agree to bound to the Safe Harbour:

And the FAQ:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Zipi Doctor Appointments

Are you experiencing any startup pain? If so we know how it feels, since we've been there too. You probably have a lot of questions on your mind. But don't panic, we might be able to help you out, since we are now offering early-stage startups one free appointment per month at the Zipi Offices on Museokatu 42.

The focus is on social media related issues, however, we can also give tips in concepting, design, social media marketing, et cetera. Tell us your situation via email and we'll try to help make you fitter.

For more established startups we are already undertaking comprehensive analysis, customer profiling and strategic consultations. And we would like to expand this service to investors to help them analyze potential investment opportunities.

The analysis is largely based on these prinicples. And our Finnish readers can find out more about the process in this presentation.