Today is the 10th anniversary of the Million Mom March, an organization advocating sensible gun control laws and one of Abstract Edge's first clients. Founded in September 1999, the MMM became perhaps the first mass grassroots movement of the Internet era, mobilizing more than 850,000 people to march on Washington on Mother Day 2000 and in smaller, local marches throughout the US.
When the MMM founders first came to us, we had to figure out exactly how we were going to engage and motivate hundreds of thousands of people in only nine months. This was quite a challenge and success was hardly guaranteed. We weren't simply asking them to write letters or send a check; we were asking them to travel to Washington and spend their Mothers Day at a rally to fight for a cause.
This was no small task. At that point there was no "formal" MMM organization or central office. The entire organization pretty much consisted of just a small handful of New Jersey soccer moms and a vision.
I had the privilege of attending the festival's kickoff event at the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday night, a result of Abstract Edge having built the festival's website (hat tip to our friends at Six Feet Up who collaborated on the development.) The site was built using the open source Plone content management system. For those who believe that all Plone sites look alike, here is yet another example to disprove that theory! Even the Flash elements on the homepage can be managed by content editors inside of Plone.
The CMS allows WSF staff to keep all of the information about events, speakers, locations, etc. up to date. Site visitors can easily browse and search for events that may pique their interest. Plone automatically keeps track of the relationships between the events, participants, locations, and ticket purchasing. This was critical in helping WSF manage the constantly changing festival information.
So, if you happen to be in New York this weekend, take a look at the site and see if anything is still available. The early reviews are quite positive!
As an example of Brand Interactivism at its best, Daily Candy CEO Peter Sheinbaum told an audience at the Direct Marketing Assocation (DMA) Email Evolution conference that building community is the path to brand loyalty. Online Media Daily reports:
Companies that want to build brand
loyalty should focus not only on communicating with their customers, but helping their customers communicate with each other, a wildly successful email newsletter targeting young women with fashion and lifestyle content.
In fact, Sheinbaum, speaking at the Direct Marketing Association's
Email Evolution conference, said he thinks of Daily Candy as a
community, although it might look like a broadcast medium....
online populations will increasingly group themselves into "communities
of interest," Sheinbaum advised the audience of marketers and
publishers to mine their databases of subscribers and customers to
discover commonalities, whatever they may be. Once these segments and
subsegments are identified, he went on, the company should equip
members of these groups to communicate with each other and form
communities--all, of course, under the aegis of the company or brand.
Sheinbaum's advice seems to jibe with two studies from the United
States and Britain which found that, respectively, 64% and 70% of
online shoppers in those countries want consumer ratings and reviews on
commercial Web sites. Respondents said these reviews would help inform
both online and offline purchase decisions. The UK study was conducted
by Jupiter Research and Bazaarvoice; the U.S. study by Forrester.
Note: You must have an account on MediaPost.com in order to read the full article.
DISCOVER Magazine, one of the most widely read science mags in the US, had out grown its dated Web Content Management infrastructure for www.discovermagazine.com. Times were changing, multi-media was big and in general Web and CMS technology had moved forward significantly.
After analyzing current needs and taking stock of the Web CMS landscape DISCOVER ultimately selected the open source Plone platform. This is a two-part series where we look at the CMS features which convinced DISCOVER to chose Plone.
was chosen because of the system’s ease-of-use, robust feature set,
strong open source community, reduced vendor lock-in, outstanding
customizability, standards compliance, reputation, economics, and high
It is amazing how seemingly random events can spike web traffic.
Looking at a website analytics report yesterday for Discover Magazine, I noticed that they had a huge traffic increase on Tuesday (more than double the usual.) Digging deeper, I discovered that more than 40% of that day's traffic was pointing to a single article from the June, 2004 issue: Useless Body Parts. Wondering where all that traffic was coming from, I saw that mostly it came from organic search on Yahoo and secondarily from Google.
The analytics tool enabled me to see the exact keyword phrases that people were using to find this old and archived article from Discover's distant past. It turns out that nearly all of that extra traffic was using the exact same keyword phrase - "useless vestigial parts".
Why in the world would thousand and thousands of extra visitors come to Discover Magazine's website in a single day, having searched in Yahoo and Google for "useless vestigial parts"? And then it occurred to me...
Minor spoiler alert - if you have not watched this past Monday's episode of NBC's Heroes, I'm going to reveal an extremely minor detail that should not affect your enjoyment of the show. That said, if you don't want to know anything about it whatsoever, skip ahead.
On the most recent episode, Claire (the cheerleader) is intrigued by her biology teacher's lecture about certain types of lizards that can regenerate lost body parts. They get into a discussion about evolution and whether or not human beings could evolve to do this. The teacher points out that there are many parts of the human body that are now "useless" and "vestigial".
End of spoiler - see, that wasn't so bad was it?
Given the timing, almost certainly, all this extra traffic came from interested Heroes viewers!
Still, it was strange that nearly every one of these visitors used the exact same search keyword phrase. It's impossible that just happened on its own.
Given that a majority of the extra traffic came from Yahoo and not from Google, I suspect that Yahoo posted an article on its portal homepage about Heroes with a link to its search results page for "useless vestigial parts". Discover's article shows up as the third result on that page.
On Google, Discover's article doesn't show up until the third results page. Thus, less traffic from Google.
The next step on this is to figure out how to run targeted SEO/SEM campaigns on Google Adwords or other pay-per-click search ad platforms to help capture even more of these traffic spikes. The tough part is that they are unpredictable. I believe though that if you watch your traffic closely enough, in real time, you might be able to figure out something like this with enough time to do something about it.
Perhaps Discover should be proactive about this and run search campaigns on keyword phrases related to topics that are relevant to their demographics, in particular when those topics are being discussed on very popular television shows that are watched by their demographics. Shows like Heroes.
Firstly, I am honored to have been asked to present at the 5th annual Plone Conference, this year to be held in Naples, Italy. I have never been to Italy, so I am particularly excited.
My presentation title is "Plone for
Media" and here is the summary:
Plone is an outstanding choice as a platform for media websites. Newspapers, magazines and radio stations have all chosen to deploy on Plone for its ease-of-use, advanced feature set, open standards, accessibility, multi-lingual capabilities, and high scalability.
This session will discuss the elements needed for media sites and how Plone (along with many well-supported add-on products) meets those needs. Features such as video streaming, blogging, podcasting, ad serving and RSS will be discussed. Attendees will learn best practices in approaching the development and structure of media websites using Plone.
Discover Magazine (DISCOVERmagazine.com), a leading US science magazine that recently re-launched its website on Plone will be used as a case study.
If anybody has a specific interest on what I should cover, please let me know.
For a preview of what we did with Discover, I just published a highly-detailed case study on Plone.net. Some of the key highlights:
DISCOVER chose Plone for its rich feature set, development community, ease-of-use, reputation and economics.
Plone, it took DISCOVER up to three weeks to publish a magazine issue
online. With Plone, that has been cut to as few as three days.
Streaming video, blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds and photo galleries are enabled and integrated by Plone.
Integration of social networking sites like Digg and Reddit has resulted in an increase in site traffic of nearly 70%.
Any site content can be made "Subscriber-only" by DISCOVER editors.
automatically generates related articles for each of the thousands of
articles on the site. No manual intervention is required.
of articles were successfully and automatically migrated from
DISCOVER's old CMS into Plone with no loss of inbound links.
DISCOVERmagazine.com is a high-traffic site that performs extremely well under heavy load.
Starwood Hotels has added value for its guests (and those considering becoming guests) by providing travel blogs written by professional travel writers. This is a wonderful use of the Internet. Instead of spending this money for YAIP (yet another Internet promotion), they are providing users with interesting and informative (and up-to-date) information. I'll bet they're not paying a fortune for this either.
I really enjoyed Mastercard's ad last night, promoting a consumer-generated content campaign that ties in with their long running and highly recognizable "Priceless" campaign. Mastercard invited the audience to participate by entering a competition to develop the best priceless idea.
By including their customers, they gain awareness, augment their already huge opt-in online customer database, create word-of-mouth, and get people coming to their website where they can promote their products. This is a great first step towards customer empowerment.
Purchasing a 30-second spot during the Academy Awards... $1.3 million. Allowing your audience to participate... priceless!
Scott is the co-founder and managing partner at Abstract Edge, a creative digital agency that provides online marketing, brand-focused design and technology services to organizations with serious content publishing needs.