hover finger william sonoma customer media

To find these features on Williams-Sonoma.com, hover your cursor over the Recipes tab.

In the current issue of The Idea Email (subscribe, view current issue), we explain why we’re inspired by how the retailer Williams-Sonoma has made the creation and use of customer media and content a part of their mission statement.

Here are three of our favorite ways they display their commitment to “helping customers become great cooks” in a way that adds value to the cookware they sell. (We could have added lots more.)

sous-chef series logoThe Sous-Chef-Series: Williams-Sonoma has partnered with The Tasting Table for a free weekly email and website series featuring the stories of up-and-coming chefs from around the U.S. Why we like it: Great stories and recipes are coupled with Williams-Sonoma cookware that’s related to the dish being shared. A great example of “content-enabled commerce.”

[By Rex Hammock, cross-posted on RexBlog.com]

A comment by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday is being given a lot of coverage by tech media and the financial press. However, outside a specific context that Facebook faces, the quote could be confusing to non-tech business decision makers — especially when interpreted to be true in all cases, and not specifically in Facebook’s situation.

Here’s the quote: “The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5 instead of native … We burnt two years.”

While it is easy to think of many Facebook mistakes far worse (that whole IPO fiasco, for instance), the point of this post is not to debate his quote. The point of this post is to encourage businesses that may have a perfectly wonderful reason for using HTML5 to avoid associating it with the phrase, “biggest mistake.”

Earlier this year we produced a magazine that included QR codes in it for download-able apps. All a reader had to do was scan it with a QR code reader (an app available for smart phones) and the app would download instantly. Imagine if the QR code was for a coupon for your store? Pretty cool, huh?
Junta42’s Joe Pulizzi has more insight on mobile marketing trends and statistics, including:

  • 56 percent of companies plan to increase budgets for mobile marketing in 2010.
  • Marketers plan to increase their online marketing budgets by an average of 17 percent this year, drawing money away from traditional channels, like print.

Wondering how your company can reach out through this growing marketing channel? We can help!

On April 3, the iPad era will begin. And yes, Rex will be at the Apple store early that morning to pick up the one he has reserved. That should be no surprise. On his blog, Rex has become noted for his accurate predictions about what the iPad would be, starting back in July 2006. He even Photoshopped a concept of the device in November 2007. And a year ago, he miscalculated the date it would be announced, but came pretty close to describing the device, down to the pricing.
As Rex and I are the resident Mac-heads in the office, I thought I’d use this “count-down week” to interview him about why he believes the iPad is such a big deal — especially when it comes to the business we’re in: Custom media and content marketing.

The jury is still out on how the iPad and other tablets will impact what has been a struggling magazine industry the last few years, but Wired editor Chris Anderson has a positive outlook on the potential of the tablet to change the industry. Why is Anderson so confident in the opportunities tablets will create for magazines and content marketers? He shared the following insights at the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ Transformation Conference in San Francisco last week:

Ten years ago, custom content meant a newsletter or a member magazine of varying sizes and frequency. And today? It probably wouldn’t be an overstatement to say a company’s options are endless in how it can reach and engage current and prospective customers.
As John Bell points out on his Digital Influence Mapping Project blog, custom content, especially the digital kind, today can take many forms.
It could be an app, like the ones created by Kraft Foods and Geico Insurance. Or it could be a community site, like Weber Nation, created for owners of Weber grills to share their tips, techniques and grilling victories.
And the list goes on. There are more options today than in the past, but the goal of custom content has always been the same—to engage customers in a meaningful way.
The challenge for marketers is figuring out which strategy works best for their audience. Are you a marketer facing that challenge? We can help.

The Sunlight Foundation’s Capitol Tweets

Previously, I provided a practical way for retailers to use Twitter as a means to broadcast a text-message to customers. Another thing you can do with Twitter is tracking messages posted on the service by a specific group of people or on a specific topic.

To track people, you simply set up an account and “follow” the specific people’s Twitter accounts.

To follow a topic, you go to Twitter’s Search page and do a keyword search. After you land on the results page, you will have the URL to a page that will provide continuous updates to any message posted on that topic. But what if you want to track several terms, or want to narrow your search? Twitter Search allows you to use what are called “search operators” to accomplish that. Here is a page that explains how to use search operators like the one I used to set up a Twitter search with several terms about the Tennessee Titans that looked like this: titans OR “tennessee titans” OR “jeff fisher” OR “vince young” OR “LP Field” OR #titans.

You can make links to those two pages — the one where you are following a certain group of people and the one with results to the keywords search and be done with it.

Or, with a little bit of simple, simple work that any semi-geek (I can do it, so there) can accomplish, you can take the content from those two pages and display it on your own website or blog. (As these posts are intended to be “simple things,” I suggest you may want to enlist the help of someone who is familiar with how to use RSS feeds or the “API” of Twitter. You, personally, don’t need to know anything other than how to ask the question, “Can you help me hack the Twitter API to display something on my blog?” In this case, “hack” is something good.)

Here’s a great example of what I mean:

The group Sunlight Foundation has used the Twitter API to create a service called “Capitol Tweets” that collects and displays every new Twitter message shared by any member of Congress who uses Twitter.

So here’s an idea for you: Do you follow a specific group of lawmakers or public officials — say ones from a specific state or region? You can easily develop a version of what the Starlight Foundation is doing.

You can even develop a widget that allows other people to display what you’re doing on their sites — like the one above that is shared by the Sunlight Foundation, but that’s another post for another day.

[Also posted on RexBlog.com]

[via: Read Write Web]

When to Use a Wiki
August 27, 2008

Funny name, useful application

Speaking of pretty wikis…
Check out the new wiki from GM.

We spend a lot of time at Hammock trying out different web applications and related software. Some of us are geeks, so we think that’s fun. But we also want to stay on top of the latest trends for our clients.
We’re long-time wiki fans, but we know that this kind of content management system isn’t as popular as it ought to be. A number of prominent wiki sites (like, say, Wikipedia) don’t make it as easy to contribute as they could, so we suspect a lot of people dismiss wikis out of hand.
But, wikis don’t have to be hard. (And I’ll throw in on a personal note, they don’t have to be ugly, either.) If you’re in one of the situations below, you should be considering a wiki: