Facebook users resisting Wal-Mart’s latest Web 2.0 endeavor

Facebook users resisting Wal-Mart’s latest Web 2.0 endeavor

Good piece in Computerworld after Wal-Mart getting toasted for its Facebook play. Interesting to see marketers get slammed as they make the first move into tight communities with their own mores and social customs. Second Life I’ve gone on about in the past, but I can see how a wise college student, accustomed to having Facebook to him or herself for the past couple years, would react to an invasion by any company looking to peddle transactions. I think the appropriate entry point is not through a new application — roommates coordinating purchases — but a simple listening post. In our case, campus tech support perhaps.

“Jeremiah Owyang, a blogger who writes about Web strategies and who is also director of corporate media strategy at PodTech.net, blogged that Wal-Mart shouldn’t give up the effort even though he expects that the “battering of the [Wal-Mart] brand” on Facebook will probably continue. He recommends that Wal-Mart start discussion group forums to try to “segment the conversations about going back to school and even consider keeping folks on topic. Continue to allow critics (you can’t stop it anyway) but try to use the forums as a guide to a discussion about school.”

He commends Wal-Mart for being “bold” enough to continuing to try social networking efforts despite previous failures, and for not abandoning the Facebook site despite the criticism from users.

“I highly recommend that Wal-Mart consider trying a community strategy using a transparent and authentic blog or video blog series that addresses the very brand issues that they are getting slammed on,” he wrote. “I took a look online for a ‘Wal-Mart blog’ and didn’t see any from the company. It’s going to be very difficult to try a community marketing strategy with eCommerce hooks without first addressing the brand detractors.”

Southwest Keeps Fans From Straying

Southwest Keeps Fans From Straying

From AdWeek (tip of the hat to Chris Kobran at CNET for passing the link via del.icio.us)

“Southwest says that online social marketing is a natural extension of its offline efforts to connect with customers. “It fits like a glove on a hand. We were doing social networking long before it was cool and digital,” said Krone. “If customers are digital, we will be digital. If they are online, that is where we have to be,” he said.”

But apparently not monitoring anything happening outside of their own blog.

Buttons and collars — marlinespike seamanship

I returned from Virginia to find a long box on the dining room table with a pair of new spruce Shaw & Tenney oars to replace the faithful, but fast fading crap basswood oars that have served me for the last six or so years.

Shaw & Tenney is an ancient company in Orono, Maine that makes very nice (and expensive) oars and paddles. I ordered my pair back in June, and finally, with summer on the wane, they arrived. After placing dead fat last in the morning skiff race, I opted out of the second punishment, came home, and sat down on the back deck with my ditty bag to get some leather onto my new blades.

Chafing is the enemy of the sailor, and a lot of seamanship is devoted to cutting down on friction. A frayed line, a chafed sail, or a worn spar can mean disaster at the wrong time and in the wrong conditions, so one does what they can to keep a boat from rubbing itself apart. Leather is a staple of any ditty bag, generally high quality tanned stuff for applying to spars where they rub against other spars. Boom crutches and gaff jaws are two places where some well applied leather will protect the brightwork (varnish), but nowhere is it more useful (and good looking) than on the looms of a nice pair of oars.

I have collars and buttons on my old oars, but I tacked the leather in place with bronze brads — a bad but quick way to get the leather on and the method preferred by my grandfather on his ash oars. Bronze looks good when it corrodes green with verdigris, but one is putting two rows of small holes into the oar which will eventually let water in and cause the oar to swell, split, and fail. So I decided to put my collars and buttons on the old school way — with needle and thread, and for an hour today put my ditty bag to good work. Paul Gartside, a boat builder in British Columbia, has excellent instructions on how to do this.
First, I took a leather collar kit and marked the leather around the shaft, centering the leather about 24 inches from the end of the grips. Shaw & Tenney recommends 20 inches, but I like to have my oar handles close together, so I move the collars out.

I marked the circumference of the oars on the rough side of the leather and cut it with a single-edged razor blade using a steel ruler as a straight edge. Then, with the ruler as a quide, I marked twenty points 3/8ths of a inch apart on each edge, and popped them through with a hammer and nail over a piece of scrap wood (an awl also works well). The holes don’t need to be particularly large, just punctures to guide the needle.

I lace with a six-foot piece of dacron sail thread thoroughly waxed with beeswax. I use two egg-eye needles — stout and blunt tipped on each end of the thread. Some experts call for shorter thread for ease of use, but I go with a long piece so I can have one continuous piece. I laced these leathers on by putting the oar across my lap, and had my sailor’s palm on my right hand to help drive the needles through. The stitch is easy — essentially the same pattern as a shoelace.

I start with a few passes on the top edge, pulling the dacron very tight to bring the two edges of the leather together. I cut the leather about 3/16ths short in the expectation that the lacing will bring it together super-tight around the loom of the oar.

I run the thread up and back, and wind up with this:

I finish it off with a Turk’s head over the button, and with some care, these oars should last at least ten years.

Obligatory Weekly Marketing Post

In deference to Peter Kim’s M20 list of marketing blogs, of which this feeble effort now resides in 12th place, I need to stay on topic and be pedantic about marketing.

In the spirit of this week’s random theme, here are some random topics which I have been thinking about lately:

1. Facebook: joined in January to the horror of my daughter, who has lived on the thing since it was launched. Now spend more and more time there without knowing why. I intend to do a deeper anthropological study of the phenomenon and make the argument that the company needs to be there in a big way. Initial fears: it is a closed system; it is spammish; it is a great demo for our public sector/college marketing efforts. It needs to be watched as part of our Social Media Marketing monitoring efforts.

2. Vibrant Media/Intellitext: I remain opposed to this insertion of advertiser links within editorial copy. This begs the question of can an ex-journalist be effective as a marketer?
3. Corporate Blog Policy: Ours is being reviewed. A new general counsel and the discipline of an annual review is now in process. I have a new personal corporate blog policy: I am going to see how long I can go without mentioning the “L word” and I don’t mean Lebanon. Why? This remains a personal endeavor and if I want to talk about the company I’ll do it on a company blog.
4. Agency Disintermediation: The “D-word” of the 90s, you know, the end of the middle-man, death of a travel agent, extinction of the human modem — the crumb catchers who act as a go-between. Ive been thinking a lot about the role of the traditional advertising agency and clients given the rise of the global interactive network and the consolidation of ad servers by the big players. I need to think carefully on this topic, but for now, I see clients going direct to the networks, and fragmenting their interactive operations across boutiques (viral agencies, microsite developers, ad servers, email outsourcers, etc. etc.)

5. Content Effectiveness: I need to embark on a project to rigorously quantify content effectiveness, fall out points, A/B and multivariate testing. I know the framework exists, I just need to focus on discovering it.

6. Social Media Metrics: lots of thoughts about the marriage of social media monitoring, actions/outreach and impact/ROI. Need to spend some time in NYC this week discussing the metrics, but I believe there is a major brand management move in the offing.

7. Conferences: I’m not a conference goer, but there are more and more beginning to pile up on the calendar. I thought conferences were somewhat doomed, but now the whole BarCamp thing seems to be breathing life back into them.