Archive for July, 2009

Title: Shoemoney Must Have Taken Hit To Head: SES Blog Post Seems Petty and Wrong

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Jeremy Shoemaker aka Shoemoney has been involved with Search Engine Strategies conferences for the past five years – it is where he came to build a large part of his network. But it seems now he is writing about how the conference is no longer effective.

Jeremy is now doing well and may no longer need to attend this conference – Elite Retreat and other smaller conferences are now more productive for him. But I think he does a disservice to his lesser skilled readers by making such a personal attack and publishing of misinformation.

I have just finished an article about ‘yellow journalism’ that discusses this very subject. We need to step away from the sensational story and provide real facts. Individual shots at people are not needed – they should be done in the privacy they deserve – we have all been less than saints at some time.

But what about the information in his article?

The speakers at SES San Jose are a list of industry leaders. There is variety and expertise from many fields and all have valuable information to share with attendees. Many of the speakers are also active at the other conferences – so suggesting there is a lack of quality speakers just shows the statement inaccurate and must have been made to have a shot at SES,

This is not the last year of this conference. Venues are booked and the conferences are set. The comment was just wrong and very much not like Jeremy to allow such inaccuracies. You could have called Matt McGowan for verification and found out the truth.

The Google Dance is not to be this year, true; but to tie Google’s action ot the future and success of SES is just bad logic. More, it is an indication of how Google is no longer valuing industry insiders helping them build the brand and the sharing of goodwill to the people who helped monetize search.

For the purpose of full disclosure Jeremy and I have been friends/acquaintances for most of the 5 years he has been attending the conferences. There are many conferences – and in some cases rivalry between them – but in reality there is room for everyone, as they are held all over the United States and the world. Travel and time convenience is the big determiner.

Have sponsors left SES – yes – but others have taken their places. Any sponsor that leaves, for lack of ROI, really needs to examine their marketing first. Have they saturated the industry? Is their product maybe being offered cheaper or with more bells and whistles? Is their message unclear? Are they spending too much time late night with Jeremy and I?

Kevin Ryan is no longer involved with the conference. The rest you two can discuss privately.

I am speaking at Affiliate Summit – it is a much smaller show and more specific. Interestingly a large contingent of the speakers there are all flying to the West Coast right after they finish their sessions.

The funniest thing is the email comment. You join communities and you get emails from them. I get them from Shoemoney and interestingly got one very similar from ThiankTank – the nonconference conference headlining Jeremy himself.

Mate I hope you are well – the blow to the head before the post must have been a good one. Hope not to see you were badly injured at our next conference.

As you said SES San Jose was your first conference. You learned a bunch from it and made some friends that you now do business with and are your close friends. There are many new people attending San Jose and I am sure they will walk away with the same feeling you had at your first. I think we tend to get a little jaded when we have done some things over and over, but we should not deny others the opportunity to feel the enthusiastic enjoyment we once had.

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Title: Amazon Buys Social Media… I Mean, Zappos

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So there I was yesterday afternoon looking for a column idea (as anyone who follows me on Twitter knows), when out of the blue came this: Amazon buying Zappos for $850 million, give or take. While most of the business stories I’ve read so far have covered this as an online retail story, with Amazon getting its, um, foot in the door of apparel with the acquisition of this renowned online shoe store, to many of us this is a social media story. To a greater extent than almost any previous company, Zappos is the story of a company built on social media.

When I asked for comments on Twitter yesterday about the role of social media in building Zappos’ brand, I got two responses almost immediately which actually turn what I just said on its head a bit:

From George Nimeh (aka @iboy), managing director at Iris Digital in London: “SM didn’t help build the brand. SM is their brand … because SM is about people, and therefore intrinsically customer centric.”

And then, from Communispace CEO Diane Hessan ( @CommunispaceCEO): “SM didn’t build the brand. Tony [Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh] & co understood HOW 2use SM 2embrace their customers-vs others who use the SAME tools & get 0.”

So, let’s not call Zappos a company built on social media exactly, but a company that saw social media as a platform it could leverage to bring to full fruition a unique, customer-centric culture. That’s a mouthful, but a more accurate description. As Hessan said to me in further correspondence: “At the end of the day, it’s almost never about the technology.”

In fact, if you look at Zappos’ customer service approach from end to end, one of its key tools isn’t Twitter — even though hundreds of company employees use it — but this thing called the telephone, which may rank as the original social platform. What comes through each platform is the message that the customer comes first.

When I contemplate the Zappos brand (I’m not a big shoe buyer, so therefore, not a customer), what comes through is this: I first heard of it through social channels, probably Twitter, and mostly because I saw recommendations to follow Tony Hsieh, who now has more than a million followers. (Take that @aplusk!)

Which makes sense, because Zappos has never really marketed in the way most of us perceive marketing: as messages pushed out in one direction, in the hopes that people will pay attention to them. (It actually feels odd to me that the company launched an agency review recently. Agency review? Talk about kickin’ it old school!) But until now, at least, Twitter has been one of its mass media, as have its unleashed customer service reps — who can talk to customers for as long as is necessary — and its word-of-mouth.

Using social tools, Zappos has built a mass brand, using thousands of incremental actions to achieve reach. As should always be the case, its broad use of social tools comes straight out of its culture, expressed as ten core values that include “Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication” and “Create Fun and a Little Weirdness.”

In fact, the biggest concern I’ve read so far about the company selling to Amazon is that it will destroy Zappos’ culture. (All sides promise that it will continue to operate independently, and retain its distinctive focus.) But in reading the early comments about the deal, it’s almost as though Amazon wants a bit of Zappos’ social media stardust to rub off on it.

“Zappos is a company that I have long admired and for a very important reason,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, in a video to Zappos employees. “Zappos has a customer obsession which is so easy for me to admire. It is the starting point for Zappos. It is the place where Zappos begins and ends. And that is a very key factor for me. I get all weak-kneed when I see a customer-obsessed company, and Zappos certainly is that.”

Remember that old Nike commercial where Spike Lee, in character as Mars Blackmon, says, “It’s gotta be the shoes”? Well, with Zappos, it’s gotta be the social.


Catharine P. Taylor has been covering digital media and advertising for almost 15 years.

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%%Amazon Buys Social Media… I Mean, Zappos%%

Amazon Buys Social Media… I Mean, Zappos

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Title: Google Product Search for Mobile Updated for More Languages and Devices, Adds Google Suggest

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When Google Product Search for Mobile was launched, it was only for the iPhone and Android phones. Now, it’s available for all internet-enabled devices in the US, UK, Germany and South Korea.

Additionally, Google Suggest, a query suggestion feature, has been added to Product Search for Mobile, but it is limited to iPhone, Android and Palm Pre phones in the U.S.

To use Product Search for Mobile, simply browse to google.com on your mobile phone and conduct a search. Then clcik on “Shopping results” to view products.

You an also access Product Search for mobile directly by browsing to www.google.com/m/products.

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