Awareness Inc. Webinar: Using Online Communities to Create a World Wide Rave, featuring David Meerman Scott ~ Takeaways


How to Start a World Wide Rave

Webinar Date: May 13, 2009 2:00 PM EST

Host: Mike Lewis, Vice President of Marketing, Awareness, Inc. (also known as @bostonmike on Twitter).

Awareness, Inc. builds online communities via a “Social Media Marketing Platform that combines User-Generated Content (blogs, wikis, discussions, photos, and videos) and Social Networking (profiles, expert location, and member searching), with Enterprise Security and Control.” The platform provides metrics on the back-end.

The online communities for Awareness, Inc.’s Social Media Marketing platform are based on the top eight use cases, which Awareness, Inc. has identified with its customers:  Innovation, Corporate Voice, UGC Campaign, Loyalty, Enthusiasts, Associations/Subscribers, Peer Support, and Events.

Audience members for Awareness, Inc.’s products include community members, community administrators, and enterprise IT. Brand-name customers include Kodak, Sony Electronics, JetBlue, Hershey’s, American Heart Association, and others.

Presenter: The biography provided in his most recent book, World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories (Wiley, 2009), describes David Meerman Scott as “an award-winning online marketing strategist, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and seminar leader. He is also the bestselling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers  (Wiley, 2007).”

For most of his career, Scott worked “in the online news business, including positions as vice president of marketing at NewsEdge Corporation and an executive position in an electronic information division of Knight-Ridder, at one time one of the world’s largest newspaper companies” (p. 192, World Wide Rave). For more information, visit Scott’s website  and Web Ink Now blog. You can also follow him on Twitter as @dmscott.

Format: A live WebEx session, including Scott’s slide presentation, with chat function as well as discussion on Twitter, via #awarenessinc.

The webinar describes how to use online communities to create a World Wide Rave. A World Wide Rave occurs when you get “thousands or even millions of people to share your ideas and stories on the Web” (p. 4).

Examples of Successful World Wide Raves 

During the hour-long webinar, David Meerman Scott provided several examples of successful World Wide Raves, which he further discusses in his book.

  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: When Cindy Gordon, vice president, New Media Marketing at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, announced plans for a major new theme park, she told just seven people, triggering a World Wide Rave, which would ultimately reach 350,000,000 people.  She told seven of the most influential Harry Potter bloggers, who in turn told their readers, who in turn told the people they knew about the attraction. “Then mainstream media listened to those tens of thousands and wrote about the news in their newspaper and magazine articles, in TV and radio reports, and in blog posts” (p. 8).
  • Dr. Helaine Smith’s Dentistry Practice: Dr. Helaine Smith, a Boston dentist, used to advertise her services in the print yellow pages, for $2000 per month. Not so today, as her e-book, Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex!:
    How Your Oral Mouth Affects Your Sex Life
    , triggered a World Wide Rave, which helped increase her business from “10,000 to $15,000 a month” (p. 51). In addition to the e-book, she has maintained “a content-rich web site for years and recently added a blog and a podcast” (p. 50).
  • Still Alice: Lisa Genova could not find a publisher for her book Still Alice, a story about early onset Alzheimer’s disease, so she published it herself and started a web site about the disease. As Genova’s popularity grew through her web site, which provided helpful information to both patients and care-givers, as well as her blog contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association’s Voice Open Move campaign (p. 169), Simon and Schuster offered to buy the rights to her book for a half million dollars. The book made #7 on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Buyer Personas

Scott explored the importance of creating buyer personas, in successful marketing today. As an example, he described web sites for hotel chains, which could be so much more effective, if developers organized content around buyer personas, instead of around the product. For example, a hotel web site’s organization and content might reflect each of these different personas: business person, corporate travel manager, family on vacation, and couple planning a wedding. Blogs on the hotel web sites could reinforce these various personas. Scott mentioned HubSpot’s user persona for an Internet Marketing Manager, as “Internet Ian.” As companies develop buyer personas for their respective products, Scott advises that they consider these points:

  • Who are your buyer personas?
  • What do you want buyers to believe about your brand?
  • Think like a publisher. (Consider hiring a journalist to help you develop content for various media like YouTube, eBlogger, and so on.)

Rules of the Rave

The following rules reflect my notes from David Meerman Scott’s webinar. For a complete explanation of these rules, see his book, World Wide Rave.

  1. Nobody cares about your products (except you).
    People do care about solving their own problems. Speak in their language, not corporate Gobbledygook, which is a symptom of not understanding your buyer personas.
  2. No coercion required.
    Publish content that people are eager to consume, based on your buyer personas.
  3. Lose control.
    Lose control of marketing and messaging, letting customers speak in their own language, not yours.
    Example #1: Scott described a recent Grateful Dead concert in Worcester, where concert goers were allowed and encouraged to tape the show. (For more information, See Marketing lessons from the [Grateful] Dead on Scott’s blog: Web Ink Now.)
    Example #2: To jumpstart people talking about his new book, Scott encouraged his publisher to allow free Amazon downloads of World Wide Rave on Kindle, for one week. As a consequence, his previous book The New Rules of Marketing and PR, hit the Business Week Best Seller list.
  4. Put down roots.
    Scott encouraged webinar participants to download New Media and the Airforce to see how even the government is putting down roots in social media. (For more information, see his related blog post, Free Social Media Ebook and Video: New Media and the Air Force).
  5. Create triggers that encourage people to share.
    Scott described the successful Girls Fight Back! campaign, where teenage girls share on Facebook video clips of their self-defense training, from their Mobile phones.
  6. Point the world to your virtual doorstep.
    Measure the success of your social media campaigns. For example, use the number of times visitors come in to your site, by clicking on your viral e-book from Google. However, do not let these measurements become an excuse for not trying social media. Even highly regulated environments, such as healthcare and pharmaceutical settings, can talk to their customers in a humanized voice. Make sure your lawyers are people you can work with. The best organizations let social media have an equal say with the lawyers. If the US Air Force can embrace social media, any organization, including business to business, can engage in conversation.


  • “Word of Mouse” = creating attention, by getting people to talk about you.
  • Marketers must unlearn what they learned for old media. Before, you had to “buy or beg for attention” from the media. Now, you can “publish your way in.”
  • Publish content around buyer personas, instead of around your product.
  • “On the web, you are what you publish.”
  • “The back button is the third most used button.” (Don’t use content to trick or trap people on your page.)
  • One idea may not be enough to trigger a World Wide Rave. Invest in several ideas, at the same time.
  • Opposite of a World Wide Rave is a “World Wide Rant.” If a Rant (negative Word of Mouth) occurs, respond in the same way the rant started. (For example, if the rant started by way of video, respond with your own video.)

Peg’s Concluding Note:

This was an exceptionally helpful webinar, especially for practitioners who are looking for successful examples of social media, at its most impactful. The rules of the World Wide Rave also gave both the webinar and book (which I have been reading over the last couple weeks) an over-arching “how-to” framework. Learning about the Air Force’s guidelines on using social media was an extra bonus, for anyone looking for a model on how to develop an internal, social media policy. I also appreciated Mike Lewis’ overview on the different types of online communities for marketing, and a full discussion of those communities would make an excellent, future webinar.

Photo Credit, midiman

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