Seattle Online Marketing Event

Annie Alley sent me this note a couple of weeks ago… and I really wasn’t sure how to respond to it, because I’m sure she (and her organization) mean well by doing this:

Earlier this spring, my colleague Ilene Little contacted you regarding planning considerations for an MIT Enterprise Forum – Seattle program focused on online marketing. We have now finalized the event. We expect a large audience of marketing and Web 2.0 leaders from around the Northwest, and attendees routinely look to VIP guests as subject-matter experts who can lend their experience in informal discussions before the presentation. Please let me know if you are able to attend – we hope to see you!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 – Social hour and registration begin at 5:00 pm. Dinner is served at 6:15 pm. Program starts at 7:00 pm.

What the hell is “Web 2.0,” anyway – and why the hell does everybody throw the term around as if it’s important? As a conference, it’s very important – as a movement, it’s about as dumb as ketchup packets. Okay, sorry – had to get that off my chest (again). No matter…

Online marketing has transformed the way businesses and audiences interact. In the Web 2.0 world, end users drive the discussion, choosing where, how, and even if they will receive your marketing message. Companies must develop a compelling online marketing strategy – with the right mix of platforms and messages – that will engage audience members and still benefit the bottom line. Join us for a unique opportunity to learn how leaders in the online marketing revolution are maximizing the power – and return – of search engines, the blogosphere, social networks and consumer-generated media.

“Web 2.0” must solve world hunger or something? I’ve been debating whether or not I should attend this particular event in Seattle tonight – as it seems I’d be surrounded by people who think they know everything (read: Internet marketers). It’s reported that the panel will be there to pontificate on challenges such as…

  • Tracking what is being said about a brand or company, and identifying who is driving the discussion

Let’s just see which panelist sees and responds to this post first: Jeff Lanctot (Senior VP and General Manager, Avenue A / Razorfish), Mike Murphy (VP Media Sales, Facebook), Derek Gordon (VP Marketing, Technorati), Ben Elowitz (CEO and Co-founder, Wetpaint), or Norman Guadagno (CMO, Zaaz)?

  • Managing the online conversation, including walking the fine line of generating publicity among bloggers

Managing WHAT?! In this context, you might as well be using the phrase “spin control.” Unfortunately, in the blogosphere – there is no such thing as “spin control” or “managing the online conversation.” You simply cannot manage something you do not own. Now, managing your own BRAND and its role in the greater blogosphere is a completely different topic.

  • Leveraging social networking sites to build relationships with members of the online community

That discussion could actually be useful. Problem is, “social networking” sites are typically community silos. I think the more important question to answer is: how are you addressing your online community, period? Just because you put a damn “Digg This” button on every page doesn’t mean you’re doing anything for your community – nor does it mean that anybody is ever going to bother to Digg or Delicious your damn About Us page.

  • Using online publishing models – such as Wikis or sources of user-generated content – to drive home your marketing message

I hate… that… term. “User Generated Content.” Someone, somewhere decided to sterilize the idea of community contributions and slap it into a questionably-profitable business model. Your marketing message is creating something that people want to talk about – end of story. Wikis aren’t a business model – THEY’RE A DAMN TOOL, YOU FOOLS.

  • Selecting the right methodology or technology to accurately gauge Web traffic, reach, and the overall impact of your online marketing activities

Great, and I hope they’re talking about attention and gestures in this whole mess. I prove (every day) that the classic “page view” model and traditional forms of affiliate tracking are long dead.

  • Determining the appropriate key performance indicators for an online marketing strategy, and measuring ROI

Again, I’d be very interested in hearing what comes of this particular part of the conversation – if they even get around to this part of the conversation. How can you measure and track brand in live video? What happens when those videos are seeded to hungry subscribers on YouTube or Google results?

Okay, that’s a good place to end this post (on a positive note, rather than a defensive position). I almost titled this article: “How to piss off Internet Marketers,” but decided to go with the original subject line of the email that Annie kindly sent.