Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blog Posts I'll Never Write (With Apologies to Borges)

Jorge Luis Borges wrote surreal stories that dealt largely with the nature of literature and authorship. His most popular work is Ficciones, a collection that includes a series of reviews of books that were never written. This was a brilliantly efficient conceit, allowing Borges to analyze the themes and issues of these stories without going to the trouble of actually creating them.

In that same spirit, here are summaries of three blog posts I doubt I’ll ever have time to actually write.

1. The Future of Technology Analysts. This is a reaction to a blog post Do CRM Analysts Provide Value for Money? by veteran consultant Graham Hill. Basically he concludes that the ‘big-name’ analysts don’t tell him much that he he can’t pick up from his own experience or other sources like blogs, books and academic papers. He does feel that ‘niche’ analysts provide more value.

As a ‘niche’ analyst myself, I tend to agree. But the more important issue is the movement away from traditional analysts to a community or peer-to-peer model. Rather than listen to expensive experts, marketers want to hear from other marketers, whom I think they perceive as more practical and less self-interested. This implies a change in the business model of analysts and consultants, who must deliver concrete business solutions rather than simply offering knowledge that clients can’t get elsewhere.

This is probably a good thing in the long run, although it does raise the question of who will do original research when no one will pay the analysts for the results. (This is a special case of the larger issue raised by the Internet, where professional journalists are squeezed out by volunteers who work for free but may not do a thorough or accurate job.) People will need to evolve new mechanisms to judge the value of different information sources—a problem that is widely recognized but nowhere near being solved.

2. A Cookbook for Demand Generation. Probably the biggest obstacle to selling demand generation systems is that many marketers don’t know what to do with them. This reminds me of the little cookbooks that come with kitchen appliances, which give a few simple recipes that make use of the appliances’ capabilities. How about a little demand generation cookbook that would describe a dozen or so starter projects, each with a list of ingredients (emails, landing pages, etc.), step-by-step instructions for setting them up, and maybe a snapshot of the expected results? I guess we could call it “The Joy of Demand Gen.” The goal is to make this as non-intimidating as possible.

3. Taxonomy for Twitter Analytics. I think there is a hierarchy of analytical methods for Twitter and other social media. The simplest layer would be to count mentions of a company or product. The next would be to list the people who are making those mentions, ranked by frequency. Then you’d measure the influence of those people based on number of followers, links, reposts/retweets, etc. Next look at the content of the mentions: are they positive or negative? Finally, really understand the content, taking into account things like sarcasm and emoticons, and maybe convert this into some sort of long-term attitude measure (enthusiastic, skeptical, objective, etc.). Most or all of these measures are available to some degree, but I don’t think I’ve seen them all linked together in a single solution.

No comments: