Ben Wills on social media - video interview (2007)

Social Media & Web 2.0 Interview with Ben Wills ( transcription)

Gareth: Welcome to the Ecommerce Rocks. Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Ben Wills. As a former director of Search Marketing, at Ben has had the opportunity to work on over 2000 Internet marketing campaigns. He’s worked with many Fortune 500 companies, including Lowes, Brookstone and Motorola. These days he’s a well-regarded article writer, consultant and conference speaker at some of the biggest events in the search calendar. Straight out of Raleigh, North Carolina, I introduce to you Ben Wills.

Ben: Hey Gareth, how are you doing today?

Gareth: Great! Ok, Ben, we hear alot about social media these days. What does the term social media actually refer to?

Ben: Social media is really what the buzz around web 2.0 has been about. Typically in the past what we’ve seen in television and newspaper media and radios is that the consumer is a passive observer, where as with online social media the consumer becomes an active participant. You vote on news stories, you build your social networks, you contribute videos to sites like YouTube, etc.

Gareth: So, what are the top social media networks or sites and how are the relevant to a business owner?

Ben: The top social networks are MySpace and Facebook. There is a website called Bebo that has a strong presence in the UK as well, larger than those two sites. So, the way that you can use social networks for your own benefit is to set up a profile and then reach out to your customers. Once you’ve built a good solid network (as MySpace calls them friends) then you can post comments on those people pages increasing your awareness to even their friends. You can also set post bulletins or even communicate through your profile any sort of contest or anything like that you have going on or sales can further increase your awareness for your company.
Gareth: Recently I’ve been hearing and I’ve been seeing an awful lot aboutDigg. (I’ve even got the t-shirt) But tell me, Ben – why is there such a buzz about Digg?

Ben: Digg is a news site that allows you to vote on which articles, which information you think is most relevant, valuable and timely to you at that point of time. So, instead of typical news sites, where information is pushed to the consumers, the consumers actually get to vote on which story they find to be the most relevant. The sites that have the highest number of votes in the shortest amount of time get listed higher. These sites then in turn can get tens of thousands of visitors within 24 hours – spread out over days, even over 100 000 visitors because of the influence that the digg community has. So, from themarketing perspective it becomes very apparent how this could be used to increase awareness for your product or services.

Gareth: That makes a lot of sense. So, tell me about social video. What can that really achieve for business online?

Ben: Social video sites like YouTube and MetaCafe basically allow users to upload their own videos. Once the video is uploaded, people will view it and share it with friends etc. For marketing purposes a company called BlendTecdid a really good job of using their blenders to blend anything from various kinds of food to cell phones! And really just demonstrated the high quality of their product.
In an article interviewing them, they said that they saw an increase of over 650% in overall website traffic just from those videos alone. So, you can see that if you make something that really resonates with the market, in that demographic, that that will have a tremendous effect in your business.
A London guitar shop, Rose Morris, has been completing videos about every week or two of these really cool guitar tricks. With just the videos they’ve uploaded right now (just a couple dozen) if they don’t add any more then they’ll see their on track to see well over 135 000 unit visitors to viewing those videos. So again, you don’t have to do something that’s huge and completely outlandish like BlendTec, to have a good, solid and strong impact.

Gareth: Thanks, Ben. Now my final question. What do you personally think of social media is a marketing platform?

Ben: That’s a great question, Gareth. I actually get asked a lot. So, I think that social media is still very much in it’s infancy. We have to remember that as marketing platform, television, news and radio have been around for decades. Social media has only been gaining recognition really over the past couple of years, although a very strong recognition. Now, for marketers I think that going into this transition from infancy to adolescence and then into a matured marketing opportunity really the question has to be, you know, how will each of these markets, how will Digg users, how will MySpace users, how will YouTube users allow themselves to be marketed to? And then being cognisant of that and taking that into consideration and really tailoring your message to how they want to receive it.

I think that if those things can be done, then social media will really evolve into a very strong platform.

Gareth: Ok, that’s great. Thanks a lot Ben for joining us. It’s been great to speak to you.

Ben: Thank you, Gareth. I really appreciate you letting me join you today.

Gareth: Well, it’s been great to chat with Ben Wills today and I hope we demystified social media for you. My name is Gareth Davies, and until next time stay lucky!

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