Join us August 4 to Kick Off Boston Restaurant Week

Join us and our client Constant Contact as we gear up for Boston’s Restaurant Week. On August 4, Constant Contact joins in the festivities by hosting a free seminar to educate Boston-area restaurant owners on the power of email marketing. Various Boston restaurants will share their email marketing success stories, including FinaleRialto, Masa and more.

Also open to the public – and useful for any small business owner who desires to learn more about email marketing – the workshop will demonstrate how easy it is to design and execute email campaigns to drive customer loyalty and interaction, increase sales and build long lasting, positive reputations. Participants will learn best practices for  building a quality list, increasing email open rates, encouraging readers to take action, and analyzing click-behavior to improve results.

Boston’s Restaurant Week features 3-course lunches and dinners for $20.08 and $33.08 respectively, at more  than 200 restaurants in and around Boston.  Bring your appetites August 10 through August 15, 2008  & August 17 through August 22, 2008.

Visit the unofficial guide to restaurant week for more details.

The  Power of Email Marketing: Restaurant Edition
Boston  Public Library
700 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts
August  4, 2008, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Click here to register

Should Google’s Knol be part of your marketing toolkit?

Knol - A Unit of KnowledgeAfter a half year of testing, Google publicly launched its Knol service this week and the inter-webs are buzzing about how it will stack up against its similar encyclopedia-like competitors. As you’ll see from the comparison below, Knol is much less restrictive than Wikipedia when it comes to creating content.

Knol vs. Wikipedia

Right out of the gate there are several major differences between Knol and Wikipedia that make publishing information much more accessible. First, anyone can create a “Knol” (page) on any topic, even if its already been written about. It will be common to find multiple pages on the same subject written by different authors. Google doesn’t have a team of moderators to keep content aligned to a specific viewpoint, and multiple perspectives on topics are encouraged.

Each Knol author has complete control over the content they create. It can’t be modified or deleted without the author’s permission. Any subject can be written about as long as it falls under Knols’ Terms of Service and Content Policy. Unlike Wikipedia, self-promotion is acceptable as the content policy states “You may use Knol to create articles for your business or to promote your lawful products or services.

Once a Knol has been published, readers are free to post comments, assign a rating or write a review on the content. These abilities are clearly missing from Wikipedia and add an extra layer of interaction between the author and the reading community.

The final difference between Knol and Wikipedia lies in the author’s ability to monetize their content. Google AdSense banners can be placed on Knol pages to potentially generate small amounts of income as content becomes popular. One of Google’s biggest hurdles right now is the task of starting a knowledge-base from scratch. Hopefully this type of incentive will be enough to consistently attract writing talent and help build a repository worth returning to.

Google's Knol

The future of Knol

Just as I’ve done above, most articles being written about Knol immediately compare it to Wikipedia. How can you not when it’s the most well-known online information archive in the world? However, Knol really has more in common with HubPages.com and Seth Godin’s Squidoo.com. Both of these sites have the same ability to create un-moderated, monetized content, and Knol could potentially give them a run for their money.

While both Squidoo and HubPages give authors complete control over their content, they have not been widely used as alternatives to Wikipedia. Knol’s clean and professional design could be the just what this type of platform needs to attract businesses who have encountered multiple failed attempts to publish information there. At the same time, this is a double edged sword that could see Knol turning into a glorified business directory. Smart businesses will leverage the expertise they have in their respective verticals and publish high quality content that is not purely a marketing sell sheet.

Regardless, this is an ambitious addition to the Google product line-up, and it should be very interesting to see how it evolves over the next few years. What is your opinion of Knol? Will it survive and flourish or struggle to grow in the shadow of its rivals?

Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/21/08

AOL is MeltingFull Text Of AOL Email: XDrive, AOL Pictures, MyMobile And Bluestring To Shut Down
Assets at AOL continue to crumble with the announcement of four product cuts following the recent coverage of cuts across cuts with their blogging properties their blogging properties. Mike Arrington shares the full text of the official email from AOL EVP Kevin Conroy in this post.

Facebook Connect: OpenID Without the Email
Nick O’Neill from the SocialTimes.com blog shares his view on Facebook’s recently announced “Facebook Connect” initiative that was announced at this week’s F8 Facebook Developer’s Conference. Audio of the Mark Zuckerburg Keynote is also available in a separate post.

What ‘Facebook Connect’ Means for Corporate Websites
The topic of Facebook Connect continues with this great post from Jeremiah Owyang that discusses what this new offering from Facebook might mean to corporations.

What are the five strengths of a Community Manager?
Many of last week’s picks centered around the topic of community. Here’s another good one to add to the bunch written by Mario Sundar, Community Evangelist & Chief Blogger at LinkedIn.

A Guy Walks Into a Bar…
Scott Monty reaches out to the Twitter community in search of answers (punch lines) to the question “How many social media experts does it take to change a lightbulb?” The humorous replies are featured in this post.

How to Build a Killer Social Network: Takeaway

AMABostonLast night, several of us from PerkettPR attended the AMA Boston meeting at the Exchange Conference Center. The sold-out event featured a keynote and panel entitled “How to Build a Killer Social Network: Understanding and Optimizing Social Media.”

John Moore, Senior Vice President and Director of Ideas and Innovation at Mullen Media Hub, got the evening started with a statistics-packed keynote presentation that covered the basics of social media and social networks. John did a good job getting everyone up to speed on the social networking landscape and provided some detailed examples of how XM Satellite Radio has used social networks to engage with their target audience.

John’s presentation laid the proper groundwork for the panel discussion led by Chris Brogan, VP Strategy & Technology for CrossTech Media. Panel members included Todd VanHoosear, Social Media Practice Leader from Topaz Partners, Tom Arrix, VP of Sales, East from Facebook and Dale Durrett, Eastern Region Sales Manager at LinkedIn. The panelists provided solid answers to Chris’s questions and they each provided their own perspectives on how get started and be successful in the social networking space.

The Takeaway

It’s not uncommon for a company to want to build their own social networking community. However, it’s important to remember that just because you build it, doesn’t mean the community will come. Yes, it’s fine to consider building your own, but it needs to be part of a larger, more diverse plan that also includes going out and interacting with the existing communities that align with your target market. Tom Arrix provided a takeaway that resonates this idea. He urged the attendees to first figure out if they want to engage with people who are like them or with people who are not like them, but who would benefit from their expertise.

The drive behind Tom’s advice is to help people decide what social networks they should join and interact with first. Existing customers and people who are familiar with your brand probably already congregate in similar online communities. Those who are not familiar with your brand, but would benefit from your expertise, might congregate in different social platforms. The objectives in your social networking strategy should help indicate which of these groups should get your attention first. After spending a good amount of time inside the existing communities, you’ll have a better understanding of how to build your own social networking community and increase its chance for success.

Unfortunately, video recording was not allowed during the panel portion of the evening, but John Moore’s keynote presentation should be available in the AMA Boston website in the near future.

Who Owns Your Brand?

Right now we are participating in a Twebinar (think Webinar + Twitter) hosted by Chris Brogan and Radian 6 on the topic of “Who Owns the Brand?”

Do companies own their brand or do the customers own the brand? There are a lot of differing opinions on the subject. I believe companies own the brand – they just don’t have sole control over it (and really, never did – the Internet just makes this more glaring).

Companies set the stage for their brand by communicating their intentions, credibility and value. Customers help shape the brand, collaborate on its direction and share it (good or bad). Today, more than ever, the customer takes the brand a company presents and either accepts it or rejects it – spreading the word or influencing change (as Dell experienced with IdeaStorm).

A huge part of what direction your customers take the brand depends on the company keeping their brand promises. Smart companies recognize this and welcome customer influence by embracing them, conversing with them and inviting collaboration. That means listening and taking action based on customer feedback.

What do you think? Follow and join the conversation here (type in #tweb2) or visit Radian 6′s Twebinar to watch the recorded version and learn about future Twebinars.