Skip to main content

Christopher Barger, GM's Vice Chairman


Like most rock stars, Christopher Barger—who along with GM vice chairman Bob Lutz has transformed the image of GM from stodgy 20th-century manufacturer into Web 2.0-savvy innovator—is even better live than recorded. If you get the opportunity to hear him speak (an increasingly likely scenario as he expands his activity on the circuit), go for it. Here are a few highlights from his presentation at the recent Blogging for Business conference.

Blogging is (officially) no longer new. 90% of Internet users in the 25-34 year-old group are familiar with blogs. 60% of those under the age of 21 belong to a (online) social network. Blogs now rival traditional media for reach.

Blogging is a PR activity—a tool to build image and credibility—not marketing. In Barger's words, it belongs at the top of the sales funnel.

Social media has given every consumer the opportunity to reach millions of others with his or her opinion of a brand or product. And it's given every consumer access to the experience of millions of other actual product buyers. Meanwhile, what several hot products—iPods, DVRs and satellite radio—have in common is that they enable consumers to avoid commercials. In other words, technology has enabled your "market" to avoid your message and get information straight from your customers. Social media enables you, as a marketing or PR professional, to participate in the conversion—but no longer to control it.

Here's an approximation of Barger's excellent "New Communications Paradigm" slide:



Only journalists and PR people still draw lines between professional and amateur online writers; if the content seems credible, the audience doesn't care about the pedigree of the source. "Traditional" media now follows the blogosphere at least as often as it leads it.

That means PR pros have to treat bloggers (somewhat) like traditional journalists: invite them to events, give them special treatment, and provide them with access to key executives.

A key reason Barger has been so successful in his role is that he understands that "community" isn't only online. While blogging and social networks are a large part of his role, he also invites influential bloggers to GM events and serves as the company's presence at blogging events, such as the Manic Mommies Escape Weekend in late 2007, an appearance that generated coverage in both blogs and traditional media.

And finally, a few points that should be universally understood, but, judging from some of the pitches I receive, still aren't:
  • Bloggers want a dialog, not traditional PR outreach.
  • PR can influence opinion, but not control it.
  • Bloggers write (in almost all cases) for passion, not money.
  • Bloggers care about their own and their readers' interests—not the corporate story.
Rock on.

*****


Contact Mike Bannan: mike@digitalrdm.com

Comments

Anonymous said…
It is amazing how many people read blogs like yours before acting on impulse and purchasing something. You're right about the content, if it is good and seems credible, it doesn't matter as much where it came from.
Anonymous said…
As a blogger for hire myself and one who tends to use the products he is writing about, I can say you hit the nail on the head. The last thing my readers want to hear is a computer generated scripted article. What they want is personality, honesty, and the feeling that the author isn't just giving them the company line.
Windyridge said…
Very true about the pedigree. If you've got the content you can be anybody. I know of an xcon who has a great following and a great blog about his jail time and what got him put in the slammer!

All Time Greats

Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM

Search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the fastest-growing categories in all of advertising, because it is both measurable and logical: present your ads when people are searching for what you're selling. A well-crafted search marketing program can provide not only broad brand exposure at a very reasonable cost (with CPMs of $10 or less), but also high-ROI lead generation. As with any other type of advertising, however, a poorly-designed campaign will be a disappointing waste of money. In addition to best practices in search engine marketing , the following articles and blog posts were among the best of 2007 at providing helpful guidance for creating and managing effective search marketing programs. Five Common Paid Search Mistakes That Can Sink Your Campaign by Search Engine Guide Blogger Jennifer Laycock explains how common mistakes such as "ego bidding," writing a single ad for all keywords, and directing all of your traffic to a single landing page can limit the res

Getting More Out of Each Click with "Post-Click Marketing"

With the economy now officially in a recession (as if we didn't know that), marketers are under increasing pressure to do more with less. On the interactive marketing side, few marketers will get budget increases enabling them to drive more clicks. The challenge, then, is to maximize marketing productivity—to get more leads out of the same number of clicks. This is the first of two posts that will look at how to improve conversion rates to get more value from each click. One answer to this challenge is provided by "post-click marketing," a.k.a. lead automation management vendors. While the specifics of each service vary, all of them essentially: automate the process of extracting visitor IP information from your log files; match the IP address to an organization; filter out ISPs; and map the company name to one or more external databases to provide additional information (company size, industry, key contacts etc.). The better services also use geo-location filte

Best of 2008: Social Media Optimization, Part 2

This content has been moved to Best of 2008: Social Media Marketing on the Webbiquity blog. ***** technorati tags: best free tools for monitoring social buzz social media marketing Six Pixels of Separation Mitch Joel Techrigy SM2 Key Web Data Chris Lang Google social bookmarking HubSpot Catie Foertsch Kate Morris TopRank Online Marketing Blog Jessica Cameron-Ruud Duct Tape Marketing John Jantsch CircleUp Traffic Travis del.icio.us tags: best free tools for monitoring social buzz social media marketing Six Pixels of Separation Mitch Joel Techrigy SM2 Key Web Data Chris Lang Google social bookmarking HubSpot Catie Foertsch Kate Morris TopRank Online Marketing Blog Jessica Cameron-Ruud Duct Tape Marketing John Jantsch CircleUp Traffic Travis icerocket tags: best free tools for monitoring social buzz social media marketing Six Pixels of Separation Mitch Joel Techrigy SM2 Key Web Data Chris Lang Google social bookmarking HubSpot Catie Foe

Marketo Releases Marketo Lead Management 3.0

Marketing automation software vendor Marketo today announced the launch of its Marketo Lead Management 3.0 software suite. With more than 200 new features, the release is the most significant since the product's initial launch in early 2008. Promising deeper support for a "conversational model of marketing," the new release provides 75 user interface enhancements as well as new features including: More fine-grained control over segmentation, targeting, and triggering; "Progressive profiling" on forms (i.e. additional profile is requested as a prospect moves through an interactive process); Native integration with Salesforce.com ; Web visitor profiling; and Automated duplicate lead removal. Pricing starts at $1,500 per month and the company now has more than 150 midmarket and enterprise customers. Marketo competes with products such as Eloqua , Silverpop Engage B2B (formerly Vtrenz), and Manticore in the marketing automation / demand generation sp

The 8 Layers of a B2B Web Marketing Plan

One way to think about designing a B2B technology web marketing plan is as a series of layers, like an onion. At the core is SEO—simply making your website "findable" through organic search to buyers who are looking for what you offer. Working out from the center are concentric layers of additional investment and sophistication. Small companies and start-ups with modest budgets will focus most of their efforts on the inner layers or rings, which are primarily designed for lead generation. As the company and its marketing budget grow, efforts can be expanded to the outer layers, which are aimed more at branding but support lead generation efforts. Ideally, a company eventually reaches the outer layer where pure branding activities (such as print advertising) help to maximize the effectiveness of lead generation programs (such as SEM) near the center of the circle. This diagram shows how different types of web marketing programs can be prioritized in order to maximize the retur

Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing

My last post listed several of the best news articles from 2007 on how to effectively use social networking sites for marketing. Here are some of the best blog posts on social networking and social media marketing strategies and tactics. 7 Reasons Why Niche Social Media Outlets are Better Than Digg by AjaxNinja After noting that "Digg has an immense amount of traffic and getting landed on the front page will send a tsunami of new readers to your blog or website, but getting onto the front page is incredibly difficult. Getting onto the front page of a smaller, more appropriate niche portal, by contrast, is much easier, quicker, and ultimately you get a better return on your time/traffic ratio in the short run," this post makes the case for targeting smaller sites. Among the complaints about Digg are its excessively broad audience and categories and the site's lack of transparency. 34 More Ways to Build Your Own Social Network by TechCrunch An excellent and detailed revie

Best of 2007: Web 2.0 Sites

A number of new social networking, social search, social bookmarking, and other Web 2.0-related websites and tools either got their start or got traction in 2007. Here are some of the most notable new sites and tools that made it onto the radar last year. Go2Web20.net Billed as "the complete Web 2.0 directory," this site has cataloged more than 2,000 Web 2.0 applications and services, searchable by an extensive list of tags and sortable by date and name. Snitter Snitter is a small desktop application that makes it easy to keep up with those you are following on Twitter, a social networking site that lets you keep "followers" up to date on what you're up to, and stay in the loop on what they're doing. KickApps A hosted web-based platform that enables webmasters and site owners to create, deploy and manage a branded social media community on any website. Socialtext An enterprise wiki tool that enables workgroups or organizations to create secure, group-editabl

7 Reasons Every Business Needs to Twitter

This post has been moved to 7 Reasons Every Business Needs to be on Twitter on the Webbiquity blog. ***** technorati tags: Twitter Dell Zappos customer service influence-the-influencers market intelligence Tony Hsieh b2b Twitter del.icio.us tags: Twitter Dell Zappos customer service influence-the-influencers market intelligence Tony Hsieh b2b Twitter icerocket tags: Twitter Dell Zappos customer service influence-the-influencers market intelligence Tony Hsieh b2b Twitter Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom