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How social is forcing Demand Gen to evolve.

Evolution is a remarkable thing. It sharpens yesterday’s skills to help us survive in tomorrow’s world. If you look at Demand Generation as a skill, you can trace it back to Direct Marketing, which in turn came from Direct Mail, which itself was an attempt to scale and automate Direct Selling.

Just as human evolution bred out things we no longer need (gills, for example) and enhanced things we found useful (opposable thumbs, anyone?), you can still see the core DNA of Direct Selling in a lot of what we call Demand Generation. In particular, the reliance on The List, which became so fundamental, it spun off it’s own evolutionary branch in the mid 1980’s (Database Marketing) in response to the new environment of personal computing.

So what happens to Demand Gen, and The List in particular, as it responds to the seismic shifts of, say, social media? Nobody’s entirely certain, but plenty of scientists are experimenting.

Your social behavior puts you on a list.

(image courtesy Martin Ollman / BugLogic)

(image courtesy Martin Ollman / BugLogic)

The likes of Kred and Klout are analysing social data to try and attribute a numeric ‘influencer score’ to individuals, ranking them in order of their ability to influence other people within certain communities or areas of interest. The obvious next step is to use these scores to create a ‘hit list’ of individuals you might want to include in a social outreach campaign, for example, and this has been marketing’s primary use of influencer scores to date, but the leap to a prospect list is still tenuous.

The list becomes a timeline.

 What if we took the same principles and tried to use them to create other predictors? Such as a ‘Propensity to purchase’ model? Or a ‘time to purchase decision’ estimate? Instead of using social as a way to decide who to contact, there is potential to use social to tell us when to contact, by listening for data points that signal where on the ‘road to purchase’ someone might be. Can their ‘social signals’ tell us whether a prospect is browsing, researching, comparing or looking for a deal? The next step from here is to look for patterns over multiple engagements, to build a model that starts to predict actual timelines: real-time ‘GPS for the buyers journey’ that locates a buyers’ proximity to a decision.

The list becomes a network.


(image courtesy Martin Ollman / BugLogic)

All this is ‘social scoring’ is fine in theory, but is based on the traditional B2C belief that purchases are made by an individual. The B2B world is more complex, particularly at the ‘big end of town’ were buying decisions are made by a group, operating within a hierarchy and often including people who aren’t the actual buyers. This is where the ‘network’ aspect of social networks comes into play: discovering and defining the membership of and connections within groups is the untapped data goldmine of platforms like LinkedIn. Several publishers in the B2B world are starting to mine their readership data to create ‘small world network’ models, which could be used to define these ‘buying cells’ and indicate which topics are on their collective agenda.

 So, social is the new list, then?

Social is getting a lot of airplay play right now. That’s partly because it’s a shiny new toy in the marketing playpen (I wrote about this in a recent post) but mostly because it’s where your audience is spending a lot of their time and energy, in a very visible, reachable and trackable way. That fact alone should stir something in the limbic system of most marketers: you fish where the fish are.

But it doesn’t mean The List is dead. Quite the opposite: The List is evolving. There are an increasing number of increasingly sophisticated ways to build, manage, mine and generate demand from The List. And a lot of those ways are yet to be discovered, let alone perfected, which I can’t help but find exciting.

30,000 people. 743 presentations. 217 parties.  5 days. 1 cherry-red Corvette.

Putting all of that into one presentation was only ever going to offer a skim along the surface. If you’d like to dive in, here are some great places to start: is, as you’d expect, the official home of the event.


Videos of the Keynote presentations have just been posted up on the official site, including Seth Priebatsch (SCVNGR), Guy Kawasaki (new book: The Art of Enchantment) and the incendiary Bruce Sterling (highly recommended).


The official SXSW Schedule now includes audio recordings of most of the panels and presentations.

The SXSW Trade Show page lists and links all the companies that had a presence in the exhibition hall.


The Sydney Ogilvy Mission to SXSW has blog posts, tweets, photos and more.



The w2fm FM podcast channel on iTunes has the daily podcast wrap-ups and interviews from the event.


The SXSW 2011 Slideshare collection hosts many of the official decks and presentations used at the event. is home to all the ‘visual facilitations’ created by ImageThink


SXSW: Everyone wants a piece is a guest post on the new trendspotting blog STW Nextness

The official SXSW Channel on YouTube majors on music but also contains several keynotes and presentations.

CNN’s coverage of SXSW in blog form.

The Guardian’s coverage of SXSW, assisted by the folks at the supremely laid-back Austin Chronicle.

Mashable’s coverage, of both the event and their two-day long party at Buffalo Billiards

A primer on how gamification works from HowStuffWorks.

Marc Ecko’s Unlimted Justice Project, an attempt to outlaw corporal punishment in US highschools.

A food review of Salt Lick, Austin’s famous BBQ restaurant, on the Test With Skewer blog.

The trade show hall @ SXSW is where a lot of start-ups place all their bets on a good old-fashioned exhibition stand and plenty of foot traffic. There were close to 200 companies and organisations making a stand (literally) at the 2011 event, with film, music and interactive all thrown in together on the one floor and the battle for attention was, in some alleys at least, pretty fierce. Live demos, loud music, booth babes, free beer and, of course, more chances at winning an iPad2 than there were actual iPad2s physically available.

At these kind of events, the elevator pitch reigns supreme. And I love a good elevator pitch. So I lingered long enough (about 3-4 seconds, on average) to get accosted by the top-flight pitchmen and women of a dozen new interactive companies and asked them to give me their best pitch.

If the little audio player above is not working for you (there are some known browser issues), try this link, or listen in iTunes.

In order of appearance in this edition of the podcast, you’ll hear the elevator pitches from:

Zene Scene – location-based photo-sharing application.

LiveShare – mobile applicaton for group photo sharing.

Izea – social media marketing platform.

Calyp – loyalty and rewards program driven by social media.

Sevenval – platform to optimise web content for mobile devices.

eCast – digital OOH media platform.

Raven Tools – online marketing tools for SEO and social media platform.

neer – location-based to-do and reminder app.

SlideRocket – online presentation software.

epiction – mobile platform software developer.

Acts Of Sharing – online communities for sharing household items amongst friends.

365 Plus Media – women-focussed online publisher.

Conduit – web app and mobile platform development platform.

iTourU – platform for creativity and real-world adventure in the form of audio tours.

This last company is an Australian outfit that chose SXSW to launch their iPhone app and also chose San Francisco as their new company headquarters. Their app attracted plenty of attention and, as a marketing tactic, a presence at the SXSW trade show appeared to be paying off.

If the little audio player above is not working for you (there are some known browser issues), try this link.

With just a few days to go until SXSW, I put my mobile podcasting rig through it’s paces and grabbed a few minutes each with some senior leadership people from Ogilvy Sydney.

I asked Digital Strategist Emily Kelley to help me find the highlights in the SXSW schedule; Ogilvy Sydney ECD Chris Ford whether we should change the entire operating structure of the traditional agency; Digital Innovator and SXSW co-pilot Damian Damjanovski why he’s more interested in Austin than Cannes; and newly-installed Executive Chairman of Ogilvy Australia Tom Moult why our clients should be interested in a technology conference in another timezone.

If the little player just above is not working for you (there are some known browser issues), try this one.

I’ll be podcasting daily from SXSW from March 11 to 15, with highlights, insights and interviews from the world’s largest festival of digital innovation – here’s where our coverage will be broadcasting from.

And for a more lo-fi look at the learnings from festival, check