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Marketing Edge

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Interview with Andrew Baron of Rocketboom, commentary on social media, blogs and more



The past three guests on the Marketing Edge have been among the biggest visionaries of the podcasting medium: Leo Laporte, Scott Bourne and Paul Dunay. Today we continue that line up with Andrew Michael Baron, the founder of Rocketboom, one of the first and most successful video podcasts on the Web.

Rocketboom is a video series of social news-style packages, less stiff than a typical news package with people that can make an emotional connection to the viewer. Rocketboom has contributors from around the world giving new perspectives and a global reach. For me, a 48-year-old veteran of journalism and communications, it’s amazing to see because this is the CNN model at a thousandth of the cost and infrastructure, not to mention human resource capital necessary to get a news package on the air (or cable, as it was).

Twenty years ago, local reporters would send in their local news packages with customized tags in hopes of getting on CNN, being discovered, and advancing their careers from places like Bismarck, North Dakota, and Omaha, Nebraska, to major-market TV news. Fast-forward to today and twenty-somethings are bringing global news to viewers with unbridled editorial license. The difference I see is that there is no real need to climb the ladder to the next career rung. It’s more about the information and less about what it will get this 21st-century journalist because there is much less of a hierarchy.

Rocketboom taps into the social fabric of Web communication one thread at a time. This Marketing Edge podcast highlights how participants in this network – participants being everyone from producers of popular shows like Rocketboom to anyone commenting on a blog – have one currency: honesty. Whether it is their opinion about a social condition or their impressions of using a product, their review of a new song or their discussion of a new technology, they are seen as honest brokers of information.

The more a participant’s information is viewed as accurate, thoughtful, honest and objective, the greater the weight that is given to that participant. Now for a marketer, multiply that participant by 10 or 100 or 1,000 or more. Each consumer is a potential participant in this discourse and can have great impact on how your brand is represented.

This is what you’re facing today and in the future. It is an environment that sniffs out the dubious and rewards the candid. Consumers of all types are more cynical, and marketers should be sensitive to the exponential power of these new social media. Today, the total number of participants might just be starting to move the needle, but the power of their opinions and actions are spreading like wildfire.

Albert Maruggi is the host of Marketing Edge and president of Provident Partners.

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