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Final Group Project Assignment Check-In

There’s one more administrative detail I need your help with. In order to have things go as smoothly as possible on Thursday, May 6 between 10:30am and 12:30pm when all the groups will be making their final presentations, I’d like to get a list together of who is doing what. That way I can provide you all with a presentation order before we get started.

So, please post a comment here with your group name and a complete list of group members. (If you see that someone else in your group has already posted a comment, there’s no need to repeat your comment!) If you haven’t come up with any clever name, just name the group after your favorite color or animal. :-)

10 Reasons to Read This Post

Well, really, there are more than ten reasons to read this post, but the most important one is because it contains the Top 10 Ideas to remember about our MIS3580/JOU3810 Social Media Innovation course.

#1: A starfish is oft mightier than a spider

Starfish and the Spider from Amazon.com

Starfish and the Spider

From the summary:

One thing that business, institutions, governments and key individuals will have to realize is spiders and starfish may look alike, but starfish have a miraculous quality to them. Cut off the leg of a spider, and you have a seven-legged creature on your hands; cut off its head and you have a dead spider. But cut off the arm of a starfish and it will grow a new one. Not only that, but the severed arm can grow an entirely new body. Starfish can achieve this feat because, unlike spiders, they are decentralized; every major organ is replicated across each arm.

#2: What would Geronimo do?

Lead by example.

#3: There is no President of the Internet

Be like a catalyst:

  1. Genuine interest in others.
  2. Numerous loose connections, rather than a small number of close connections.
  3. Skill at social mapping.
  4. Desire to help everyone they meet.
  5. The ability to help people help themselves by listening and understanding, rather than giving advice (“Meet people where they are”).
  6. Emotional Intelligence.
  7. Trust in others and in the decentralized network.
  8. Inspiration (to others).
  9. Tolerance for ambiguity.
  10. A hands-off approach. Catalysts do not interfere with, or try to control the behavior of the contributing members of the decentralized organization.
  11. Ability to let go. After building up a decentralized organization, catalysts move on, rather than trying to take control.

#4: Starfish or spider? How about a hybrid.

Craigslist, Ebay, and Amazon are all examples of successful hybrid organizations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Final Assignment Details

On Thursday, May 6 at 10:30am (our courses final exam period) there are two things due at the beginning of class:

1. The final group project — also send a copy via email to both instructors. Also post your Flash prototype to our class blog.

2. The final individual project — also send a copy via email to both instructors.

Also, during that class meeting, the final group project presentations will occur.

Final Group Project Presentation Guidelines

  • Your presentation should be 5 minutes long and will be followed by 2 minutes for questions (plus 1 minute between presentations).
  • Your presentation should answer these questions:
    (b) what problem are you solving?
    (a) how do you propose solving it? — including a demonstration of your prototype), and
    (c) what are your recommendations for making it a succes?
  • It is highly recommended that you practice your presentation so you can be sure you can efficiently and effectively get through all of the required material in the alloted time!
  • Please put any electronic materials on a memory stick or post to the web in a readily available location.
  • One or more group members may deliver the presentation, but all group members are expect to be present and available to answer questions about the project. During the presentation all group members should join together with the presenter at the front of the room.
  • Although we would like you to treat these as formal presentations, there is no dress code. Wear whatever you are most comfortable in for a presentation.

Final Individual Project Guidelines

The final individual project is a 5-10 page report (including graphs/figures and/or screen shots) summarizing what you learned this semester in the process of writing for your blog along with an analysis of patterns of Website traffic over the course of the semester.

There are three primary content areas for this report:

1. A summary of what you learned in the process of creating content for your website. What insights did you gain in relation to the material that we discussed in class. (Target: 1-2 pages)

2. A recap of the website promotion activities your proposed in the early assignment, a discussion of how they were implemented, and an assessment of their effectiveness (or lack therefore). (Target: 2-3 pages)

3. An analysis of your website traffic over the course of the semester. Pick key metrics that you feel provide the most insight into your website and discuss how those changes over the course of the semester in relationship to key events (e.g., more posts or website promotion activities). (Target: 2-5 pages)

Viral Marketing and the Power of Networks

Today we’re going to talk about the role that networks play in the adoption of products and ideas.

In short, why are some things successful beyond all reasonable expectations and others, even if they are technically superior to available alternatives, total failures?

Viral Marketing and the Power of Networks

The essence of viral marketing is when a satisfied adopter tells two friends about a product and, then they’ll tell two friends about it, and so on. The power of such compounding can be seen in the parable of the ruler and the chessboard.

Successful viral marketing has three major challenges to overcome:

- Initial product adoption: do I need shampoo and I am willing to try a new brand?

- Adoption attrition (e.g., keeping churn rates low); will I buy the same brand again?

- Product recommendation: how many others will I recommend the product to?

Growth and Churn

Joel York created a mathematical model showing how growth rates and churn rates interact in viral marketing. Here’s an example:

He describes three phases to viral marketing:

1. Brute force sales and marketing

2. Customer advocacy

3. Ecosystem buzz

Network Roles and Network Effects

Who was William Dawes?

The Network Effect

Additional Resources

Here are two books that have popularized some of these ideas. The Tipping Point is the better known of the two, but I found Made to Stick better written.

From the Publisher’s Weekly review of The Tipping Point

The premise of this facile piece of pop sociology has built-in appeal: little changes can have big effects; when small numbers of people start behaving differently, that behavior can ripple outward until a critical mass or “tipping point” is reached, changing the world. Gladwell’s thesis that ideas, products, messages and behaviors “spread just like viruses do” remains a metaphor as he follows the growth of “word-of-mouth epidemics” triggered with the help of three pivotal types. These are Connectors, sociable personalities who bring people together; Mavens, who like to pass along knowledge; and Salesmen, adept at persuading the unenlightened.

From the Publisher’s Weekly review of Made to Stick

Drawing extensively on psychosocial studies on memory, emotion and motivation, their study is couched in terms of “stickiness”—that is, the art of making ideas unforgettable. They start by relating the gruesome urban legend about a man who succumbs to a barroom flirtation only to wake up in a tub of ice, victim of an organ-harvesting ring. What makes such stories memorable and ensures their spread around the globe? The authors credit six key principles: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions and stories.

Final Group Project and Presentation Requirements

For the final group project there are three components:

1) Describe a plan for a product extension for college.philly.com. Include answers to these questions:

- What is the product? Provide a description.

- What problem does it solve?

- How does it work?

- Who is the target audience? What are the audience demographics? Why is the audience interested in your product or service?

- What is the financial model (how will it pay for itself)?

- How would you market it?

- Why do you think this is a good idea?

Provide results of market research conducted for the project or service and evidence that the market research made it into the final plan.

2) Prototype – build a prototype in Flash that demonstrate the key essence of the proposed offering (an audio-visual prototype of the product or service). The prototype will be created in Flash, using any media. (You may choose just to use video, for example.) A prototype is an example of what your product or service would look like, and/or how a typical user might use it (a use case scenario).

3) Presentation – each project team will make a presentation on Thursday, May 6.

NOTE: Our class meeting on Thursday, May 6 is at 10:30am to 12:30pm

Mentioned in Class Today

Design Books

Prof. Jacobson mentioned this book by Robin Williams (not the comedian) in class today: Non-Designer’s Design Book, The (3rd Edition) (Paperback)

This book by the same author also looks useful: The Non-Designer’s Presentation Book (Paperback)

Temple Radio (on-line)

WHIP and Courtesy Laugh (on Facebook)

Clarification on the Website Promotion Assignment

I’ve had a couple of questions on the Website Promotion Assignment. To avoid confusion, here are some details.

You will describe 5 different website promotion activities in total. The first 3 are things that can be done at no cost and are things that you are going to do in the next two weeks (or may have already done here very recently). The 4th is something that you are proposing to do and can be done for $100 or less. The 5th is something you are proposing to do for $10,000 or less.

Here’s an example of what the start of a description of one of the three no cost strategies might look like…

Idea #1: Correct punctuation and grammar

Description: I plan to start making sure that all of my blog posts are written in complete sentences with correct punctuation and grammar. My writing will be more like…

Rationale: I think that blog posts that are written well are more likely to attract an audience. I think this because…

Objective: I hope that more readers will spend more time at my site reading what I have written and when they come to the site that they will also…

Measurement: I will know if this strategy has succeeded if the average visit length has increased. My secondary goal is for the average number of pages per visit to increase and the bounce rate to decrease. These measures are appropriate because …

Repeat similar information for the remaining ideas, even if you feel like you are repeating similar details from strategy to strategy. It is likely there will be some overlap in rationale and measurement, but writing things out for each strategy will help you uncover where differences exist or where your rationale may not be as strong as you think for.

I hope this helps everyone with their assignment. Let me know if there’s any questions.

More on Web Analytics and Web Advertising

Today we’re going to do some hands-on work with Google Analytics and talk about some key considerations for tracking the success or failure of a web promotion effort.

Google Analytics tour: http://www.google.com/analytics/tour.html. (For more details, head to the Google Analytics IQ Lessons at Conversion University.)

We’re also going to discuss advertising with Google and Facebook. I will show you some examples from an online advertising campaign I ran.

Website Promotion and Analytics

Last week we discussed ways to promote a website. This week we’re going to follow up on that topic and also discuss measuring the effectiveness of website promotion with web analytics.

How do You Find Websites

One way to think about how to promote your web content is to think about how people find new websites. Last week I asked you to list five ways you find out about websites. Here’s a summary of your responses:

Source Mentions Details
Other sites 18 Links from other websites, blogs, online articles, social media (Facebook, Twitter)
Advertising 10 Billboards, magazines, TV, public locations (bus, building rooftop, flyers); online ads
Word of mouth 7
Search engines 6 Mostly Google, often serendipitous
Friends 4 Broadcast links via Facebook, twitter
Journalism 4 Zines, newspapers, TV news, online articles
Web aggregators 2 Digg, Reddit
Emails 2 Including email blasts
TV 2
Business cards 1
Accident 1
Text messages 1

By far the most common way to find out about a website is via a link at another website. This makes sense, doesn’t it? The World Wide Web is built around the power of hyperlinks and “surfing” from one website to another.

The next biggest categories are advertising (both online and offline), word of mouth, and search engines.

Web Aggregators

Last week we also tried our hand at using Digg, one of the most popular examples of collaborative filtering via a web aggregator.

Following this link we can see which stories were most popular with our class.

Read the rest of this entry »

Website Promotion Assignment

The objective of this assignment is to demonstrate that you can develop a realistic and executable plan to promote website content. The assignment is due at the beginning of class on Tuesday, April 20.

You will be graded on 3 primary criteria:

1. Likelihood of success of planned and proposed activities.

2. Overall persuasiveness of funding request.

3. Completeness of responses fulfilling all requirements in a clear, precise professional manner.

The assignment requirements are:

1. Identify three specific website promotion activities you will take to promote content on your blog between now and the end of the semester.

This activity may include topics we’ve discussed in class or other website promotion strategies. For each of the 3 activities individually provide

(a) a description of the activity,

(b) a rationale for the activity,

(c) what you hope it will achieve, and

(d) how you will measure the success or failure of your activity.

Note: there may be overlap in the answers for the 3 activities, but it is important to develop a unique answer for each activity.

For the final two sections, imagine that Profs. Johnson and Jacobson have a limited pool of funds available to distribute to projects.

2. Describe a website promotion activity you would perform with a $100 budget. Again, provide:

(a) a description of the activity including budget details,

(b) a rationale for the activity,

(c) what you hope it will achieve, and

(d) how you will measure the success or failure of your activity.

3. Describe a website promotion activity you would perform with a $10,000 budget. Again, provide:

(a) a description of the activity including budget details,

(b) a rationale for the activity,

(c) what you hope it will achieve, and

(d) how you will measure the success or failure of your activity.