Influencers Who Inspire: The CMO Site’s Mitch Wagner

This week’s interview in our “Influencers Who Inspire” series is with Mitch Wagner of The CMO Site.

Mitch Wagner, Editor-in-Chief of The CMO Site, has worked both sides of the street, as a technology journalist and a marketer and social media strategist. He helped lead development of social media marketing strategy for a business-to-business security company. Prior to that, he was an executive editor and writer at InformationWeek, where he launched the publication on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. He pioneered blogging for The CMO Site’s parent company, United Business Media. Mitch has been a writer and editor at InternetWeek, Computerworld, and more.

He started his career in technology journalism covering Digital Equipment Corp. and IBM, then covered operating systems before leaving that beat to start writing about this new idea of doing business on the Internet (against the advice of his editors, who were sure the Internet wouldn’t last). Mitch’s first journalism jobs were on local community newspapers in the New York metropolitan area; on his very first job, after writing and pasting up the whole newspaper, he put the bundles in the back of his car and delivered them.

Mitch is a social media addict. Connect with Mitch on Twitter; @MitchWagner; Facebook, and Google+. Mitch lives with his wife in San Diego, where he avoids direct sunlight.

Can Second Life get a Second Life?

I read Mitch Wagner’s Computerworld blog post last week, “Fast, Easy, Fun” with Second Life founder Philip Rosedale –  and it made me wonder – what would it take for me to try Second Life again. My first experience with using Second Life was not positive to say the least and I don’t think just hearing that it had new functionality would be enough to entice me to change my mind. What I didn’t hear in this article is what Rosedale has planned for changing the way people think of Second Life.

In my opinion, Second Life’s problem is twofold –

  1. Technology: Yes, they HAVE to make it fast, easy and fun because when I tried it, it was slow, difficult and boring.  For all of the press and promise Second Life had, it did not appeal to me in the least. In fact it was kind of creepy. I do recall liking the name I came up with and my outfit, but beyond that, it just seemed like a bad trip. I REALLY wanted to like it but in the end, it did nothing for me but crash my computer and waste my time.
  2. Public Perception: Aside from Mitch, I do not know ONE person who is on Second Life. Obviously someone is, but it’s no Facebook. They are going to have to really work hard to make people think its “cool” and be willing to try it again as it seems to me that the world has moved on.  No one is there, not much is going on.  I’m not sure people would even admit trying it – like going to a lame party and then hoping no one found out you were there.

So, what would make me try Second Life again? How can they revive their brand?

What would make me try any service or product again that is not only dated but that is often ridiculed by the general public?  Would I say I just started a new Plurk account?  Would I tell a friend that I just cut my hair with a Flow-bee? Would I say I just bought my boyfriend some Old Spice…..well…I wouldn’t have a year ago because I’d be afraid to hear, “Hey Lisa, 1975 called, they want their cologne back.”

So why would I now?  How did they revive their brand?

As we know, Old Spice did something brilliant but simple – they made people talk about their product again.  They made it seem cool to use their product, they made it seem like cool people were already using their product, and they made people laugh.

It sounds like high school, but honestly, people want to know that other people are doing something before they will do it, especially if they fear being mocked for doing it. They really want to know that the cool people are doing it. And they want the promise that they will get something out of it – fun or learning, they have to believe there is good reason to try again.

Second Life has to invest just as much in PR, marketing  and advertising as they do in the technology.  People say that PR & marketing are now irrelevant – but think about how many times you’ve said Old Spice in the last ten years, and then think about how many times you’ve said it in the last two months. Old Spice didn’t change their product, they just changed how people thought about their product. Of course the quality of technology, product, or service matters, but how it’s packaged up and sold matters almost as much.

For me, its going to take a better experience and some very cool promotions. My friend even suggested setting up a Sterling, Cooper, Draper Pryce and letting people interact with the characters – now that would get me back there.

So, what would make YOU try Second Life again?

Disclosure: Mitch Wagner is currently a client of PerkettPR

Persuasive Picks for the week of 03/15/10

facebook-et-1Facebook overtakes Google, Twitterers prefer social to news
The SiliconRepublic’s John Kennedy shares a variety of stats and projections from a recent study issued by Hitwise. The study confirms that traffic to Facebook has outpaced Google. In addition, Twitter is continuing to emerge as a key source for news and media sites.

Twitter’s @anywhere could prove risky for users
Computerworld’s Sharon Gaudin provides a rundown of Twitter’s new @anywhere functionality and explains why this offering could prove risky to brands.

How SEO Can Build Brand
This post from SEOConsult begins the exploration of the relationship between Search Engine Optimization and the profitability of your business.

Is Google Wave getting Buzzed?
Google Wave and Google Buzz are two new apps that many web-workers are still struggling to figure out. Both were launched in radically different ways. While users are still trying to figure out how these products fit into their workflow, it seems that Google itself is also still trying to determine what’s next for these new offerings. To be continued…

It’s the Social Media Strategy Struggle
WebWorkDaily’s Aliza Sherman shares a list of helpful social media strategies that she learned from her experience at this year’s SXSW Interactive Conference.

Computerworld takes a look at the value of social media; featuring two PerkettPR clients & their ROI

rdWhether you call it social media, new media, social marketing or another moniker, the big question remains the same – how do you measure its value? We’ve been able to measure value from day one of jumping into the social marketing world here at PerkettPR, and now we’re thrilled to be helping clients to do the same. Reality Digital and Litle & Co are both featured in a series of articles on Computerworld today regarding the value and ROI they’ve seen with their social media efforts.

In “One Company’s ROI Tally for Social Media,” Reality Digital’s CEO Cynthia Francis says calculating return on investment starts with understanding what you want to accomplish. She includes a breakdown of investment vs return, including:

  • Total investment for social media programs (including technology costs and PR agency hours): roughly $3,000 per month
  • Total sales leads generated in April, May and June: 72
  • Average sales leads per month: 24
  • Average cost per sales lead: $125
  • Lead conversion to sales opportunities: 11.1%
  • Lead conversion to closed deals: 1.4%

Litle&coIn “What’s your Twitter ROI? How to measure social media payoff,” our client John Stevens, director of corporate content and communications at Litle & Co., says the company has seen “six-figure revenue come in because of the connections made through social media.” He discusses the need for firm ROI figures and future decisions around using public sites such as Twitter or building proprietary systems.

What’s your return been on social media investments to-date? Do you expect the ROI to increase, decrease or remain the same in the next 6-12 months? How are you using social media in your business? CMOs and marketers, what kind of help you do plan to enlist for PR, social marketing and advertising in the next year? Please take our survey – it’s only two questions and we’d love to hear from you. Thanks!