One of the greatest challenges the marketing world has faced recently is exactly how to leverage the evolving Web 2.0, Social Media universe.

Everyone can see the tremendous numbers of users involved as well as the potential reach that it seems should be possible as well.

That said, very few brands have been able to crack the 2.0 code and harness it to their advantage.

Very few brands have been able to crack the 2.0 code

In my opinion there are two issues at the core of this conundrum.

First, is a general lack in the depth of understanding about just how the social web functions that is keeping folks from seeing just how to use it.  It is not yet another channel in which advertisements can be placed.  I don’t care how good they may be, if it is ads that one is trying to use in the social web… you will most likely be wasting your money.

Secondly, there is an over-riding issue of patience, or lack thereof, that seems to permeate the efforts of most companies trying to happily exist in, let alone leverage, the social web.

Social media tends to grow gradually or organically.  Could this be one reason the Search Engines like it so much?  Note the word "Organic".

If a marketer comes in and tries to forcibly insert their message it usually gets thrown back in their face.  This is going to be a problem for most companies working with traditional marketing groups who are used to being able to put together a plan, design the creative, send that off to one or two places, and then at the pre-appointed time their message is made available to a (hopefully targeted) audience of a generally predetermined size.

Social media requires the same planning and creative design (well not quite the same but you get my drift).  What follows next though is what requires patience.  It is not good enough to disseminate your materials to just a handful of places. 

With social media one must first step back and look at all of the various formats in which a message can be delivered.  Next, the various forms of the message need to be carefully distributed to as many media/community outlets as possible.  Yes, you should start with the big guys but the greatest benefit will be seen by massive distribution.

Look at this massive distribution as a huge collection of windows

Look at this massive distribution as a huge collection of windows, or better yet doors, leading in to your website.  The more doors, the more obvious access points into your product or service.  Yes, you will even receive some good SEO benefit… if your materials are all posted correctly.

Is there a problem with this methodology?

In a word, No, but it does leave a lot on the table.

It is wonderful to have people watching your videos on one of the many video sites and then clicking through to your site.  It is also great to have people following your tweets on Twitter, viewing your images on Flickr, or watching your live stream on Mogulous, but is there any cross-pollination going on?

Is the prospect looking at your photos on Flickr even aware that you also have videos on YouTube, or a blog to which you post, or a live feed?

Chances are the answer is NO, and this is where the real opportunity lies…

Enter the concept of Brandstreaming

Enter the concept of Brandstreaming, also known as "life-streaming" or "life-casting". 

The idea is to aggregate all of the feeds from the various places your contents (start thinking of them as assets) are posted to one single place.  In theory this is then streaming all online aspects of an entire brand (brandstreaming) so that consumers need only go one place to drink from the info well.

There are a number of different sites doing this such as FriendFeed and OnaSwarm and more on the way.

Now, I want to insert my own opinion on this here.

I believe that these sites are on the right track… but only have a small piece of the total picture.

They only have a small piece of the total picture

These sites see themselves as aggregators of content.  That is cool and a step forward.

Now, let’s take things a step even further forward and ask, "What if all of that content from a single brand, as well as that of others covering the same brand topics, was leveraged to create a new breed of ultimate authority site?"?

Are you starting to see some of the possibilities here?

What could you do if you owned the Ultimate Authority site for a given brand or topic? 

Do you think you could make a few bucks with that?

The definition of the "Authority Site" is going to change

The definition of the term "Authority Site" is going to change and in my opinion that change is right around the corner.

 Keep your eyes and ears open for what is coming next.

Now having read through all of that, what is your take on brandstreaming and/or authority sites? 

Please leave your comments below.

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll

Filed under Blog, General Musings, Online Marketing by  #


OK gang,

I am back and I must say that the rumors of my demise by bull moose gouging were highly exaggerated 😉

In a word, Alaska is: AWESOME

Somehow even the developed areas have an unspoiled feel to them.  Maybe it is the backdrop of incredible mountains rising up in every horizon around you that does it or maybe it is just the crisp, clean air.

The trip was basically too short.

Now, before I go into trip details I must say that we were not on some cushy, tour group trip here.  This is a what you see is what you get group made up of a 40+ year Alaska  native (our driver and man about town Tony) and our friend Joe Costa who first hit Alaska as a homesteader 50 years ago.

Time in Anchorage was highly educational and interesting, not to mention a good time with my father.  We do have the same taste in good draft beer and food.


Alaskan Amber… Good.  So is the Smoked Porter.

Trip to the cabin was made up of 4 hours in a friend’s van (former correctional facilities vehicle, which meant no handle to open or close the back from the inside and a molded plastic seat on which to sit (I had a poly rope tied around me as a seat belt which you can see in the photos).

The pilot of the float plane has been flying in the bush for 30 years and took the biz over from his father who flew our friend Joe up for about 50 years.  Great guy who simply "Loves what he does".

Beyond that we spent the next week hiking, hunting, fishing, a little boating, cooking, doing some metaphysical work, cutting and hauling wood, and the rest of the time escaping from reality and living in the moment!


SIDE NOTE: None of us are big hunters, however we did plan on hunting caribou.  Unfortunately only residents can do so at this point.  The only other option was black bear.  We did hunt some and did actually have a mother and cub right in our camp one evening, can’t shoot a mom though… that would be wrong.  The end result… we came home with some expensive hunting licenses and an even more expensive bear tag plus great memories of the hunts we went on.

I also have to say that from the feedback I received, the quality of food in the camp went up many times over during the time I was there.

Yes, we were out in the middle of nowhere, but we did have seriously too much with us in the way of food.

Being a trained chef (trained at the CIA, one of my other lives) I had a blast cooking over the open fire.  I prepared things like:

  •  A great beef roast with a honey-soy, caramelized onion reduction sauce
  • Grilled reindeer sausage with fresh hash-browns, bacon and eggs
  • Cinnamon french toast on the open-fire, cast iron griddle
  • Savory beef stew with roasted potatoes and corn
  • The list went on and on…

We also did some work in the pyramid that Joe built on the site.  Again, one of my other lives as I look at the state of our world.

I could honestly go on and on for a long time covering every single detail of this trip.  That would make for one very long post and neither of us have time for that.

As an alternative, here is a link to the Flickr set covering Sam Knoll in Alaska.

As you view, please keep in mind that a documented a lot for my kids as well as friends (my guys found the various animal poo we’d see on our own trails fascinating).  Also, often times when out on the trail our hands were full with our anti-grizzly protection (read as a rifle or shotgun).  The grizzlies, black bears, moose and a host of other animals all use the same trails along the lake that we do.  There was a grizzly in the camp working some parts of it over… thankfully before we all got up there.  I did manage to bring back some grizzly fur left on numerous trees for my boys

OK, that’s all for now.  Enjoy the Alaska pictures and let me know what you think.

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll

Filed under Blog, General Musings, Life Outside Work by  #




The marketing world is realizing that playing in the Web 2.0 requires understanding a new set of rules in regards to honesty and disclosure.

Now, the term transparency is far from being a new one in marketing vocabulary.  It is a term that has been tossed around and used for decades.

What we are seeing in present day is that the new Social media and the communities upon which it is built are redefining how the term applies to companies AND their marketing.

In the marketing agency days of old the term was often used when referring to client:agency interactions.  This usually pertained to elements of strategy, branding, positioning… and billing.  Generally it was about the client, not their target market.  Beyond the Agency – client dealings, the consumer only needed to know what the marketers wanted them to.

Well, times have changed.

Times Have Changed

In the new frontier of Web 2.0, social media it is the consumer who demands transparency of the companies delivering marketing messages left and right all around them.

Blogs, forums and the rapidly increasing number of newer style community sites like top dogs, FaceBook, YouTube, MySpace, Ning based sites, Flickr, Squidoo, etc, are all powered by if not run by (the site owners will be the first to admit this) the end users.  These users are often intelligent, educated, tech savvy, and extremely openly opinionated.

Want to play on the 2.0 playground?

Want to be one of the businesses welcomed into their court?

You’d better be willing to be 100% forthright and transparent in your intentions and motives or at some point you will be found out.  When this happens, the very same, all important social influencers that can help make you a household name can also quite adeptly lead the charge to run you right out of town.

Now, besides the risk of being found out… you also must consider one other important element of the new, social consumers.

I mentioned earlier that these folks are now intelligent, educated and often very tech savvy.  On top of all of that, they are also becoming rapidly immune to may of the tried and true marketing techniques and frankly can see right through much of it even if it is completely opaque by design.  Again, once this is realized by the social consumers they will at the very least tune out your marketing message all together (that is the softest least damaging reaction).

Gotta Be Willing To Lay It All Out

Think about what consumers want… a merchant who is willing to be openly honest and share everything with them (even if it means telling them that ultimately you hope they’ll buy your product) or someone employing smoke and mirrors. 

The bottom line is — if you want to sell today, you have to put away the bag of tricks, put on your honesty hat and lay it all out there at the get go.

If your message is true and your motives good, there is still plenty of room at the top.  Just make sure you don’t have any dirt hiding under the carpet just waiting to be discovered.

This is pretty basic stuff yet, many larger traditional marketing groups seem to have a hard time grasping it let alone embracing it.

Do you agree or do you think the same game as ever can still be played in the social web?

What Do You Think?

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll

Filed under Blog, General Musings, Offline Marketing, Online Marketing by  #



Here’s a rather different sort of post for me as it has nothing to do any way shape or form with marketing or even the Internet.

I am about to embark on what should prove to be a fantastic, trying, enlightening, invigorating adventure.

On Tuesday, I will be heading to a small one-room cabin a little over 200 miles northwest of Anchorage Alaska.

The cabin sits on the Southeastern edge of Lake Tazlina, not too far from the glacier at its southern tip.  I am heading up there with my father, brother and our friend(the guy who has had the cabin there for over 50 years) Joe Costa.

Joe is a great friend, mentor, "brother" and spiritual advisor.   He first started going up to Alaska when he was in his early 30’s, has been a big game guide, homesteader, and even opened one of the first movie theaters in Anchorage.

The purpose of this trip is to get a supreme dose of Male bonding, do some fishing, hunting, hiking, and to also partake in some life-changing spiritual work.  This last piece will have a focus on changes in the world and plans for putting the healing of the world into action.

I expect to be doing a fair amount of physical work (we may rebuild the roof of the cabin) while also spending a lot of time working on and in the inner world.

I don’t often share all of what I believe in and work on with most of the world but now know that it is time, so you will get a tiny tease now and a good look inside Sam when I return.

Now I do have to say that there is a small but of trepidation about the trip as we do not know what weather we’ll be dealing with (can be in the 40’s and wet or the 70’s and sunny), we will all be armed with 20-gauge "anti-grizzly" protection as there are at times many around this area and much of the inner work we’ll be doing may be all new to us.

One other wonderful aspect of this trip will be the complete absence of Internet connectivity for roughly 10 days.  I am honestly looking forward to it but also fear for the avalanche of email to deal with upon my return.  Such is the life of an Internet Marketer.

On top of preparing for this adventure, I have also put off the launch of a new concept as I don’t feel it prudent to launch a new site and then leave town .

I also have a variety of consulting jobs set up that will start the moment I return, on top of the agency work I continue doing.  Whew!  It’s going to be a whirlwind… but a great one.

On a final note here are a few pics of the cabin:





This is truly a one-room deal so only Joe will be sleeping in the cabin.  The rest of us will be in tents out with the wildlife.


I’ll be posting my own pics ( I plan on taking 100’s) and information learned as soon as I return.

How’s that for something different?

Onward & Upward!

Sam Knoll

Filed under Blog, General Musings by  #


It is an awesome thing to watch a company make a change that leaves you thinking (if not saying out loud), "Damn… now that is a stroke of genius!"

Paypal did just that when they just recently released The Paypal Plugin.

Picture 1.png

Here is an already successful company who, in my humble opinion, has just made an amazingly cleaver move that has the potential to seat them as the true "King of The Hill" for consumer payment submissions across then entire Internet.

Yes, they are already one of the dominant forces in payment gateways but not number one.  What they’ve done here is just about a stroke of genius.

Here’s the deal…

Up until now, the only way to use Paypal to make a payment for goods or services online was for the merchant from whom you were buying to accept Paypal payments.  There are a tremendous number of merchants using Paypal as either their sole payment option or at least offering it as an option, but by no means everyone.  Most of the largest Internet retailers do not accept Paypal as a payment option.

Why should this matter?

Paypal is truly a wonderful payment concept, because you really cannot buy anything unless you’ve got the money.  When you make a purchase via Paypal it either draws off of your Paypal balance or it deducts money from the bank account associated with your Paypal account.  Given the state of the avg. American’s credit card debt level, I see this as a much better way for consumers to shop.

It is also very convenient to make a payment via Paypal as all you have to do is login and the rest just happens.  There is no lengthy entering of credit card numbers, names,  and addresses.  It is fast, easy and very convenient.

What has Paypal done then that has me so excited?

They have created browser plugin (sorry Mac users… it only works on a PC, but you can generate a card number by visiting the secure cards page) that once installed, enables you to make a debit card payment with Paypal, in any system that accepts Mastercard.  This means that now a Paypal payment can be made on virtually ANY major retailer’s site as well as the little guys who do not currently accept Paypal.

The way this works is Paypal generates a single use Mastercard debit number that will draw off of your Paypal account.  Once generated, it remains valid for up to two months. 

There is also a second option that enables you to create a Mastercard number that will remain valid indefinitely for repeated use on a single website (say for instance).

In short, Paypal has just increased their reach by a percentage I can’t even begin to try to calculate.


This is the exact sort of thing that takes a company from Good to Great.

Yes, we all needed just one more way to spend our money right?

So what next?

Share your opinion on this new way to spend your money?  Leave a comment and let us all know.

Onward & Upward!


Sam Knoll

Filed under Blog, General Musings, Online Marketing by  #

Made with Semiologic Pro &bull