Factiva Forum -- debating issues around marketing, blogs and corporate reputation

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Case Studies  |  Business to Business  |  Corporate blogging

Yesterday I participated in the terrific Factiva Forum, a Leadership Technology Conference for select executives from Factiva client companies. The room was buzzing all day as Factiva clients were thrilled to get out of the office and do some big thinking around the issues.

Clare Hart, Factiva's President & CEO kicked off the day with a look into the future of How Search Drives Competitive Advantage. She presented a world where business search won't be just a list of results but rather what she calls "anticipatory discovery," a presentation of relevant and useful information rather than a list that forces businesspeople to gather. Clare is a big believer in the value of Serendipity (stumbling across something that you didn’t think to ask) which in my opinion is a critical component of search. Clare provided a sneak peak at some Factiva products in development that will potentially change the paradigm for how businesspeople find information.

Next up was a terrific panel that I moderated called "Blogs and RSS: Friend, Foe, Future or Fad?" As I was moderating the panel, I was sneaking down a few notes that I found interesting. When I polled the room by a show of hands of the more than 100 executives mostly from large companies, we learned that about 70% read blogs regularly, 40% use an RSS reader, 20% write blogs of some kind and 10% write a corporate blog. The latter numbers were skewed a bit on the high side because my three panelists and I all write corporate blogs.

In the panel, Chris Kenton SVP of the CMO Council and a writer for BusinessWeek provided some interesting guidelines for corporations who are considering blogging. Questions Chris says to ask: Do you talk about your clients in the blog? Do you talk about challenging issues? Do you have rules of engagement? Is there a policy? Next up was Sandy Hamilton EVP Sales & Marketing of NewsGator. He provided an interesting perspective of how RSS feeds in an enterprise can help employees monitor what’s being said about your company. Finally Jim Brancheau, Managing VP, Media Industry at Gartner talked about a "shift from mass media to my media." He talked about Gartner blogs and how some of them (such as one on Hurricane Katrina) are short life span topical blogs.

Steve Wilson, Director of Global Web Communications at McDonald's then presented "Breaking Boundaries: Blogging at McDonalds." He gave the group a rare glimpse into the decision making process at a big corporation around the "go or no-go decision" on blogging. Steve commented on the Lincoln Fry blog and then said, "If McDonalds is going to get credibility and trust, we have to participate in the [blogging] community. We can’t just jump into a blog storm without having built a dialog first." This is sound advice about blogging from a large consumer brand.

Glenn Fannick, Product Development Manager at Factiva led an interesting breakout on "Using New Technologies to Make Sense of Content Chaos." Glenn is an expert in text mining, which is a useful tool to learn about the conversations going on in the Blogosphere about any product, service or company. In another breakout, my friend Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project and I co-presented on "Content for Competitive Advantage." It was fun to tag-team with Lee about what people do on the Internet today and how companies can use content on their Web sites to improve their corporate reputation and drive more action, including revenue.

In a highlight for me, Seth Godin was the keynote speaker. I’ve been a Seth fan for years and have read all of his books and follow his blog. So hearing him live for the first time reminded me of going to a rock concert. I knew much of the material, and was pleased to hear the old hits, but was surprised and delighted when new material was brought out or played in a way that’s different from the album (book). Seth told us that "the TV Industrial Complex is cancelled" and that the way to success is not through more clutter and more advertising, but instead by being remarkable. "People don’t buy a Hummer because they need a car, they buy a Hummer because of the way it makes them feel." According to Seth, we’re in an era of emotional marketing: "Don’t be Boring. Make what you do worth talking about."