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Friday, August 15, 2008

My Forrester Groundswell Awards Submission

Charlene Li's and Josh Bernoff's book titled Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies is timely, immensely relevant and hugely engaging. Have you read it? Have you at least seen the Groundswell website which is chock full of details, excerpts, videos, a profile tool, and a blog? Definitely spend some time there considering the groundswell and its implications...

I believe completely in the groundswell. I am part of it as are all of you reading, commenting, reviewing, searching, posting photos and connecting. We all belong to a new world order. For that reason, I have decided - after reading Josh Bernoff's blogpost titled "now accepting entries for the Forrester Groundswell Awards" - to submit an entry to the Forrester Groundswell Awards. In fact, this blogpost is my official submission page.

Starting around August 19, Forrester will publish the submissions in the Awards section of the Groundswell website. That's when you can add comments and vote, and get even more immersed in the groundswell! I'll let you know when -and if- my entry gets posted.

My Forrester Groundswell Awards Submission

Name of entry: The Carpetology Blog

Name of company entering: Solutia Inc.'s Wear-Dated Carpet Fiber

Category: Talking

Description of this entry: The Carpetology Blog represents a consumer focused weblog focused on all things carpet related. This includes carpet design ideas, color inspiration, trends, practical advice on how to buy and care for carpet, what to look for in carpet, the differences between one carpet style and another... We also include humour, stories about carpet in the news, preposterous tales involving carpet, even art, culture and carpet.

Our goal is to help make sense out of all of the information available about carpet, carpet buying and carpet care, in a category that is generally unpleasant to shop for, where the emphasis in-store is on commodity and low prices rather than fashion, style and experience, and where salespeople often don't give the core carpet-buying consumer [a woman 85-90% of the time] credit for making purchase decisions. Carpet buying has been compared to buying a used car. The Carpetology Blog aims to change that perception and elevate the category.

The Carpetology Blog is written by the Women of Wear-Dated who are passionate about talking about carpet. We have been in the shoes of the carpet-buying consumer and we want to make things easier and more fun. We want to engage with her as she begins to learn about carpet.

Our primary carpet-buying audience consists of women between the ages of 25 to 55 who tend to be in the complex market for flooring and carpet every 7 to 10 years.

From the Groundswell site and the Social Technographics Profile Tool, women in this category index high as spectators [Age 25 to 34 = 121; 35 to 44 = 116; 45-54 = 81]. Spectators, to use the Groundswell definition, "consume social content including blogs, user-generated video, podcasts, forums, or reviews."

[Note: Data from Forrester Research Technographics® surveys, 2007. For further details on the Social Technographics profile, see groundswell.forrester.com.]

We launched the Carpetology Blog in late 2007 in anticipation of the June 1, 2008 launch of our redesigned groundswell-friendly Wear-Dated website. It incorporates social tools for sharing pages, invites comments and rankings of products and retailers and offers robust search. The Carpetology Blog enables us to talk about the carpet content on our website while bringing in other perspectives, or late breaking news and developments relating to carpet. It also means that we can describe and promote the social features of the Wear-Dated website.

Since launching The Carpetology Blog, we have introduced a web video series titled "A Foot's Perspective," [visit our channel on YouTube] relating to the premise of our marketing materials that take a foot's perspective on carpet, with new episodes airing every other Wednesday. We also have Wear-Dated related photos on Flickr.

How does this entry accomplish business goals? Our business goal is as follows:

To enhance the value of the Wear-Dated brand online:

+ With consumers via robust and relevant carpet related content that promotes fashion, style and performance in carpet [#1 search result in Google for carpet style trends with Wear-Dated in #3 spot] and represents editorial quality information to guide consumers as they purchase or maintain carpet.

+ With B2B partners [carpet mills and retailers] by showcasing those who offer better retail experiences [e.g., Lewis Floor & Home, Kerns Carpet One Floor & Home], offer stylish carpet [e.g., Carpet One Floor & Home, Flooring America], create beautiful carpet styles [e.g., Mohawk, Fabrica, Tuftex] and support wonderful causes meaningful to our core consumer [e.g., Karastan].

From Sitemeter, our stats as of 8/11/08 indicate:
+ Total visits since launch = 9,109 averaging 2.06 minutes
+ Total page views since launch = 14,980 [1.7 pages average per visit]
+ Extrapolating for the full year, we conservatively expect a total of 31,300 daily page views.

[Assumptions for the balance of 2008: 480 visits/wk * 20 weeks * 1.7 pages per visit = 16,320 page views. 14,980 + 16,320 = 31,300]

From Technorati, The Carpetology Blog has the following: Authority of 13, rank of 524,130 and 138 blog reactions.

ROI Calculation
- The costs associated with The Carpetology Blog are sunk. The Women of Wear-Dated [including Elizabeth Hise from Hughes] write, research and edit all of our posts ourselves. We tap existing talent within the Solutia, Wear-Dated [and Ultron] organizations and within the industry. Our blogging platform - Blogger - is free.

- Benefits include, based on conservative value assumptions:
+ Advertising value: 31,300 daily page views * $2.50/thousand = $78.25
+ PR value: 16 stories specifically promoting Wear-Dated * $500 = $8,000
+ Editorial value: 19 stories with research/tips/advice * $500 each = $9,500
+ Word-0f-mouth value: 138 blog reactions * $100 each = $13,800
+ Research value: assume feedback from search terms/site referrals is the equivalent of 1 focus group worth $8,000

Total ROI: $39,378.25

Notes:
Advertising value, word-of-mouth value, focus group cost estimates taken from page 113 of Groundswell.
Editorial and PR values represent conservative SWAGs.
Advertising, PR, Editorial, W-O-M values are based only on results through 8/11/08. It would not be unreasonable to expect those to be higher by year end.

Other benefits, not quantifiable at this point:
+ Increased awareness of our Ultron carpet fiber business, programs and people.
+ Support value: better educating consumers about how best to care for carpet; may reduce warranty claim instances.
+ Generating more conversation with retailers about the carpet retail experience; promoting fashion, style and color to carpet consumers [vs. selling on price as a commodity product]; addressing carpet maintenance as a means to strengthening the relationship with customers.
+ Pass-along value of articles reprinted and distributed within retail stores.
+ The existence of digital content the elevates the carpet category for consumers, and has nothing to do with low end, poor quality, price-focused, hard sell and lack of authenticity.

Measuring the current conversation:
We have posted 86 stories and received 27 comments. This does not include comments received via email, feedback received at trade shows or conversations held with customers.

Putting carpet into perspective: as mentioned earlier, consumers enter the carpet flooring market every 7 to 10 years. Once they have made their purchase, the experience tends to fade from memory. As consumers, we may absolutely adore what we have underfoot, and it may do an awesome job complementing our stylish interior, but most of us don't go around actively thinking or talking or writing about the specific product we chose once it is installed - unless we have problems.

Carpet is a relatively low search category. Out of an estimated 308.4 million daily searches, Wordtracker estimates that 'carpet' appears 1190 times [vs. 'iPhone' at 8180].

Also, getting back to the Forrester Social Technographics Profile, our core consumer ranks high as a Spectator, which means she reads blogs, but may not be commenting on blogs. However, we do hope to engage her Critic side via the Wear-Dated website!

Dates during which entry was available to users: December 27, 2007 to present


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Reminder: Please, no self-promotional or SPAM comments. Don't bother if you're simply trying to build inauthentic link juice. Finally, don't be anonymous: it's too hard to have a conversation. Thanks, CB

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