Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A penny for your thoughts

Will a haypenny do? Please take 5 minutes to take my survey on the American Red Cross. This is completely anonymous, and I appreciate all participants. Thank you for your time and thoughts.

Click here to take survey

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The latest in digital marketing platforms

Bacardi Limon has teamed up with Hercules Networks to sponsor goCharge stations throughout 50 bars in NYC. This stuck out to me, as a recent post in one of my social networks declared that instead of coffee shops with free WiFi, we need more lap-top friendly bars. I know the feeling - sometimes caffeine just isn't going to cut it.

The kiosks are designed to entertain users with interactive branded messages such as cocktail recipes, trivia, and specials as the consumer charges their device. Will it catch? I don't know, but this is definitely out-of-the-box thinking that has the consumer at the center of it.

It could be a new addition to our increasingly mobile lifestyle. Apparently, others agree as goCharge plans to roll out additional branded mobile device charging stations in bars, casinos, sports stadiums, and other venues in cities around the world. I can't wait to try it out to see what types of creative and interactive brand messages Bacardi has come up with.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy anniversary to the tweet

5 years ago today, the first ever tweet was sent out into the world. Since it is such an accepted part of our social networking lives, it may be hard to believe that the site is so young. But with an estimated half a million new accounts created daily, we can count on continued growth and utility of this interactive giant.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The buzz, from start to finish

Recently, you may have [definitely] heard, Charlie Sheen was caught using copious amounts of drugs, was fired from his job, and has unleashed an ill-advised world-wide publicity tour. Last week, he added a world record for the fastest time to reach 1 million twitter followers to his resume. This is the kind of excitement a marketer can only dream of generating, although preferably with methods that don’t make the world question our sanity and produce positive feedback for our clients. But with Charlie Sheen out there in the virtual world #winning social media and the internet, it begs the question: what is it exactly that moves people?

It all goes back to social media and interactivity to create a dialogue with your customers. This is particularly true of the coveted Gen Y-ers. Non-traditional media is the medium you turn to in order to create a consumer evangelical movement for your client. Recently, Twitter unleashed more data illustrating why if you aren’t tweeting, you should be. Among these:

-Twitter users send 1 billion tweets per week
-460,000 new accounts are created each day
-456 tweets per second the day Michael Jackson died and 6,939 tweets per second announcing the Japanese New Years – big events implications

The modern customer wants to interact with businesses. They want to easily provide feedback and if they like what they see, they want the world to know about it. Buzz, viral, word-of-mouth, whatever you call it, it is all about engaging the consumer in a meaningful dialogue, starting with the loyal core and strategically working through social clusters.

As you work through your social marketing campaign strategy, to generate a buzz for a campaign, you should define, not only your target market, but specifically work your campaign through fans --> customers --> prospects --> strangers.

So, now we can all go out, define our core market of loyal consumers and create a wildfire of consumers buzzing about our client’s brand? Unfortunately, the Charlie Sheen story is interesting, but atypical. While most of us aren’t starting out with a celebrity-status and many marketing messages may not exactly be earth-shattering, you will make significant progress by formulating a good strategy and following through with social media tactics that reach your audience and relevant messages that will get them buzzing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Some WOM Considerations

As the marketing landscape continues to reshape and harness the power of the digital world, word of mouth marketing is an increasingly effective approach. If something catches momentum, there are few mediums more effective at getting a message to your target audience that they respond to – both with actual word-of-mouth and digital word-of-mouth.

As I was browsing through some of my favorite blogs recently, I was considering the influence that some authors have over their readership - followed almost blindly in some cases. A trust is built with the audience over time. But in a world where our authors don't always uphold the highest standards of practice, sometimes the content put out there isn't always top quality. And as social media platforms continue to expand, there is increasing room for dubious goings-on and new ethical considerations for best practices – anyone remember “Walmarting Across America”? Now we have celebrities tweeting endorsements at $10K per 140 characters, broked by the firm

If you don’t always find the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines to be a nice relaxing read, there are other places you can look for guidance. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (“WOMMA”) is an official trade association that represents the interests of the word of mouth and social media industry. WOMMA has produced a comprehensive ethical code that is regularly reviewed and updated to reflect industry trends. That code consists of 8 principles that outline best practices:

1. disclosure of identity
2. disclosure of consideration or compensation
3. diclosure of relationship
4. compliance with FTC guidelines
5. honesty in communication
6. respect for venue
7. marketing to children: no inclusion under age of 13 and compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
8. compliance with media-specific rules (regarding children)

Disclosure is obviously, popular with WOMMA (and marketers everywhere interested in responsible practice). These guidelines are necessary because chances are that as soon as a new medium comes along providing opportunity for consumers to be misled, someone will find the inappropriate way to use it. As bloggers and other content creators out there are increasingly visible (don’t we all have a blog now), guidelines for responsible content sharing will continue to be considered and reconsidered until the FTC puts out something more concrete on the subject.

And in full disclosure, I have no actual connection to WOMMA, the FTC, Walmart, or

Monday, March 7, 2011

RJ Reynolds cashes in on Mardi Gras

An advertising campaign for Camel cigarettes has stirred up a Mardi Gras controversy by piggybacking off of the popular festival. Camel’s Break Free Adventure campaign features ten cities across the US in a cross-country tobacco tour. In time for the famed New Orleans Carnival celebration, a wrapper on specialty packs reads, “With a nickname like The Big Easy, the Camel just had to ramble down to N'Awlins to snag a balcony, catch some beads and take in the bourbon-soaked fun below," in a city "where po'boys and Voodoo queens preside over a rich cultural gumbo, and where party people of every kind flock to get down and break free."

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has sent communication to R.J. Reynolds requesting them to, “leave the celebrating of Mardi Gras and New Orleans to families.” While I don’t know about the reality of that request, Landrieu has a point that, "Camel is exploiting both our city's name and our proud history and tradition of Mardi Gras, food, art and music for its own gain and to the detriment of the health of our city's residents."

Of course, tobacco companies have been using these types of psychologically motivated tactics for decades. This is just the latest from the creators of Joe Camel. Alluring images of power, prestige, glamour, fun, amusement, success, vitality and sex appeal create a positive associations between la vie en rose and their products that many find offensive. The fun and exciting, if not glamorous, atmosphere of Mardi Gras would fit creatively well into their vault. Given the history of tobacco advertising, shouldn’t tobacco anticipate backlash as part of the creative process by now? And if so, consider how much RJ Reynolds and friends are thriving on these tactics and the publicity generated by them. Why not try to identify your product with a population that didn’t really want the association when the repercussions are so profitable?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Social networking drives web traffic for Gen Y

In the ongoing effort to understand the mysteries of what drives consumer behavior, more research has been conducted on how we use the internet and what drives web traffic. According to research released by Forrester, there is an increasing divide between younger generations and older generations in this aspect, which will make social networking more useful than ever. Furthermore, Gen Y is more than twice as likely to use social media as a referral source than older generations. The chart below illustrates the different drivers of web traffic destinations.

As you can see, Gen Y visits sites from their social network nearly twice as often as reported by any other group. Obviously, these sites are used more readily by this group of 18-30 year olds leading to a greater opportunity for content sharing. If your target market includes this group and you are not using social media, you may be missing out on a great communications opportunity.

These research results have further implications for understanding Gen Y. One important consideration is that these types of grassroots messages are great influencers of the 18-30 group. Word-of-mouth continues to thrive as a focus of marketing professionals who understand audience behavior. Here, trust and relation are major factors of the virtual psychology of the modern consumer.

As the advertising industry in the digital age continues to morph, social media continues to play a larger role in driving traffic organically and through word-of-mouth. With Gen Y and even younger generations increasingly becoming the focus of companies, integrating the message into the big social media outlets should be an increasing part of the marketing mix.