As the year winds down, I was curious which posts over the course of the year were the most popular. I was pleased to see that the posts that had resonated the most with all of you were ones that I felt like I’d achieved some clarity around an idea that I’d been working through. (It’s also interesting that these posts are among the most frequently accessed through search.)
The number one post was from March: Social Media Can be A Marketing Platform. This was when we were taking Network Communications into its Project Massive Network, an effort to get every person in the company using social media to broaden and intensify their professional connections.
Through the year, I kept meaning to come back to the concept of Evangelist. The word too easily connotes intense passion, while I believe that the most effective Evangelists are the ones who have completely integrated their nature with their passions, so that they communicate a relaxed enthusiasm that inspires and attracts others. Evangelism is too often associated with a mania and mono-focus that can be off-putting.
The number two most-popular post was a very detailed case study that I did in June about migrating our marketing strategy at Apartment Finder to a social media focus. My intent with this post was to demonstrate each of the steps that we had taken to extend our communications with the multi-family marketplace to multiple platforms, and our efforts to modify and adapt our messaging to the unique attributes to the platforms. This effort continues today and deserves a follow-up: the most challenging aspect of the initiative is maintaining continuity and assessing its effectiveness. Despite our intent focus, we have areas of spotty execution with our own program.
The third most-popular post was my first attempt to consolidate the thinking that I’d been doing about how a traditional publishing content workflow needed to adapt to accommodate the inclusion of social media platforms. In Thoughts on Evolving the Content Strategy in Publishing to Leverage Social Media I outlined the Sharing Model of content creation. This model outlined here as served as a framework for developing new processes at our regional home design brands, and in some instances we’ve seen significant impact on audience and enthusiasm. The process is a living work in progress.
The fourth most frequently viewed post is an down-and-dirty analysis of State Farm’s presence on Facebook. This was a period when I was trying to understand the challenges that face traditional marketing departments when implementing social media programs. The post was published in April and is one of the two most-frequently accessed posts through Google search. I recently re-visited the State Farm Facebook sites and little had changed.
In the Spring, I was doing a lot of work to try to quantify the impact of the economic decline on consumer spending, marketing outlays and media allocations. In an early April post, I pointed out the contradiction between industry research showing the effectiveness of TV and magazine advertising and the steep declines in revenue. The point: When marketing budgets shrink, the most expensive media goes first.
I’m kind of proud that a self-serving post doesn’t show up until the number 6 spot. Over a period of 6 months, we radically shifted our traffic strategy at ApartmentFinder.com in order to leverage what we percieved as our core strengths. This shift was rewarded in April when Comscore reported ApartmentFinder was solidly in the top 5 destinations for apartment shoppers on the Internet. Our work put us solidly in the consideration set for online-only marketing in the multi-family industry, and we did it despite being heavily outspent on search engine marketing traffic by our competitors.
The seventh most-popular post, from July, demonstrates how powerful social media can be. I described a disappointing customer service experience with American Express. A couple of days later, I heard from the Chairman’s Office. It doesn’t match Jarvis’ Dell experience, but it was an instructive moment in the new age of marketing and media.
A May post reporting on research that shows how effective print advertising is in driving web traffic came in at number 8. Despite multiple instances of independent research like this, many people insist of maintaing a very simplistic “Print Is Dead” position. At this point, I just shake my head and wonder why the concept of using multiple platforms to intersect with consumers to drive business activity is so hard to accept. [I very accepting of marketers who say they don’t have the money to invest in premium marketing choices, whether they are online or offline. Then we can have a conversation about how to leverage their marketing resources to build their business. Just sitting around arguing about living or dead media gets old very fast.]
An October post made the top 10 and is a big search favorite: The Current State of the Economy in 5 Pictures. I realized doing this analysis that I should update the post in January to reflect the fourth quarter results. Lesson: People like pictures.
The number 10 position is taken by a post where I ranged outside of my limited sphere of knowledge to speculate about how social media platforms would change the way that people searched for information. The premise was that “human search” would develop through the filtering of content by overlapping social graphs. This is happening on Twitter and is expressed by many as crowd-sourcing. I had fun thinking about the problem and putting together the schematics. The post attracted a broad readership and started many conversations. I’m sure that those followers soon dropped off as I returned to my more mundane noodling about business models, business processing and marketing approaches.