Friday, October 30

Balancing Transparency: Social Media And Psychology


"Recruiters shouldn’t care about that Facebook picture of your beer pong game in college." — Shel Holtz, ABC, principal of Holtz Communication + Technology.

Holtz calls the increasing shift toward total transparency a cultural transition, spurred on by social media. And, as a consequence, "Animal House [by Millennials] behavior really shouldn’t matter to hiring managers today."

The communication has sparked an interesting conversation, with Jen Zingheim, Media Bullseye, wondering if "Millenials are perhaps setting themselves up for future problems, because it's hard to put that privacy genie back in the bottle." At the same time, she recognizes that she came from a different era, one that celebrated the separation of professional and personal, work and play.

For my part, I offered up the interesting case study of Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, who found their personal and professional worlds collide while working on John Edwards campaign just last year. Holtz said it was apples and oranges.

Is it? Marcotte and McEwan isn't a story about bad behavior. It's a story about merely having publicly conflicting views with the candidate you work for — without bad or illegal behavior. It led to the chastisement of two professionals over nothing more than their own rhetoric. It also marked the beginning of the end for the Edwards campaign.

The consequences present evidence enough. What we do in public is public. Social media can make personal public.

Does this mean Holtz is wrong? Not in the least. This is a conversation with a dynamic that allows two people to be right at the same time in that there is a cultural shift occurring that allows for greater personal and professional crossovers. However, Holtz might be taking one step to far in suggesting that what you share might be exempt from public scrutiny after it's shared publicly.

What we do in public, especially when it includes personal behavior, has always had professional consequences. To think otherwise is saying that the employee who unexpectedly got drunk and put the lampshade on his head at the company party didn't somehow change the perception of the public that was present. Social media expands that public.

In some ways, it might be more hazardous because social media is different from daily relationships as it expands the audience (instead of 50 impressions at a company party, there might be 500 impressions on Facebook).

We might also consider that the online public has a limited engagement. For some in social media settings, they might only see that lampshade on his head, which wouldn't create the impression of someone who had too many. They might only see a drunk. Or maybe an alcoholic. Or maybe something else. It's hard to guess.

In recruitment, it might beg the question: do we hire the drunk or the other guy or gal?

In some cases, it might depend on the corporate culture of the company. In most cases, maybe not. After all, there is a growing feeling that semi-public employees make statements about companies.

And while I may personally agree with Holtz that companies might be going too far (given some use sites like Zillow to evaluate a prospect's real estate), it may be equally irresponsible to suggest to students that what they say or share online ought not to have consequences when it very clearly has consequences, whether you're a student or not.

There are a good number of people who might disagree with me. Many social media professionals and social media authors practice, in varying degrees, total transparency beyond authenticity. However, there is another distinction to be made.

Many of them have already become public figures as de facto public speakers, columnists, and authors. And public figures, based in part on personal branding, follow different rules. Their fans and followers want to know more about them personally, horns or halos.

Where the challenge for everyone else is in that they want some semblance of privacy while operating as a semi-public person in very public forums.

And while I personally do not judge people on their behaviors, opinions, etc., the public most certainly does. Customers do. Constituents do. Colleagues do. People do.

This last weekend, two servers at restaurants shared personal information with me. One was tired because another employee called off after coming down with a severe medical condition and she was working a double shift. Another was tired because they stayed out late the night before, and were nursing a hangover. (Both of them were Baby Boomers, not Millennials, by the way).

I tend to be very personable when I interact with people; they share a lot of information with me. I make it a point not to judge or label them for it either. However, I cannot help but to wonder if a greater population really wants to know. Most people just want personal service without public commentary and introspection by those providing the service.

So whereas Holtz presents an interesting case study for how we are in transition (and we are, all the time, like a pendulum), I lean toward Zingheim's point in that there seems to be some ignorance about the potential consequences of participants who don't filter personal content, especially when the engagement might be confined to a single impression.

Or, in other words, choosing not to consider what people might think about certain behaviors, actions, or ideas is one thing. But expecting people to only affirm those behaviors, actions, or ideas is another all together. Not all such stories will end like David Letterman. Some will end like John Ensign. Are you ready to flip the coin?

Thursday, October 29

Finding Funny: Six Guidelines For Humor In Advertising


Earlier this year, Adam Ferrier, consumer psychologist and a founding partner of Naked Communications, wrote a post that claimed humor in advertising doesn't work. Looking at the recent gaffes by LawFirms.com, Pepsi, and Toyota, we draw a different conclusion. Most advertising humor isn't funny.

“It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously.” — Oscar Wilde

In truth, there have been scores of studies conducted on humor in advertising over the past 25 years. One of the most famous was conducted by Paul Speck back in 1987. He found that humorous ads increased initial attention, sustained attention, and retention. (You can find his dissertation here.)

Add to this early work: a Clear Channel presentation about outdoor advertising that revealed humor outperformed straightforward by as much as 3:1; most estimates suggest 80 percent of viral success stories include humor; and a new study conducted by Madelijn Strick from the Radboud University in Nijmegen, Holland that concludes comedy is important to have a positive impact on customers. There are hundreds more.

So, if the problem isn't funny, what is the problem with funny? The problem seems to be that funny has to be funny to work. Unfunny, on the other hand, only creates negative impressions. And unfortunately, unfunny is much more commonplace as advertising writers seem to have forgotten that marketing humor doesn't enjoy the same liberties as entertainment writing.

Six Guidelines To Finding Funny For Advertising

The first rule of advertising is that there are no rules. Divergent thinking has always sold and will continue to sell. However, there are guidelines that can help reduce the risk of producing an unfunny campaign that backfires like those mentioned yesterday.

Guideline 1: Funny Is Inclusive, Not Exclusionary
All three backfires have an exclusionary construct. They attempt to be funny at the expense of others. Marketing humor works best when it's inclusive — when we laugh at ourselves or with a group we belong to. (If Motrin made baby carriers, they may have escaped the wrath of angry moms).

Guideline 2: Funny Rolls Uphill, Not Downhill
Two of the backfires make fun of stereotypes that are perceived to be "inferior" to the position of the teller. For advertising, comedy is better positioned to roll uphill. Illegal aliens can make fun of lawyers, but lawyers cannot make fun of Illegal aliens.

Guideline 3: Funny Is Contextual
Context isn't everything, but it always counts. There have been several people making the context case lately, but the idea has been around awhile. The message, medium, and moment are all important when it comes to funny. Two of the backfires miss this idea entirely.

Guideline 4: Funny Is Situational
When people make mistakes, making fun of the mistake might be funny. For example, making fun of United Airlines' mistake is funny. Political gaffes are funny. Big business missteps are funny. However, always keep in mind that what is funny today may not be funny tomorrow. One backfire, for example, tried a joke two years too late.

Guideline 5: Funny Is Relative
When a character that people can relate to becomes the brunt of the joke, it might be funny. That's why marketing that makes fun of office settings tend to work. No one is really singled out, and many of us can relate as an audience. All three backfires never consider their relation to the audience. The humor might make them laugh, but nobody else is really laughing.

Guideline 6: Funny Is About Constraint
Advertising humor also works best when it shows some constraint. If people talk about a joke but cannot remember the product or service, you lose. All three backfires seem to disassociate themselves from the humor. In fact, one backfire does it so well that most of their gags were passed over by consumers. (Nobody really friended their fake MySpace accounts.)

But beyond all that, humorists also need to remember that funny is hard work. Off-the-cuff quips that come up in a creative session seldom make the cut. They have to be worked, reworked, and worked again. That said, here are three five-second solutions that my have played better than what those unfunny writers cooked up (because that's all the time we had).

Legal Advice Without An Argument? There's An App For That. LawFirms.com

Or, related in subject matter. We Won't Chase You For A Change. Immigration Advice. LawFirms.com

Lesson: Making fun of clients is not funny. Making fun of your profession might be funny.

Play A Prank On Toyota. The Matrix

Lesson: A car company playing pranks on people is not funny. Playing pranks on a car company might be funny.

Life's Too Short. Amp Up When They Shoot You Down. Pepsi

Lesson: Taking advantage of a nerdy girl is not funny. Being shot down by one might be funny.

Get it? Sure, humor is subjective, which is why it can be risky. But when writers consider a few simple guidelines, smart and unexpected humor in advertising can potentially be successful, sustainable, and have a shot at going viral.

Wednesday, October 28

Failing At Funny: LawFirms.com, Pepsi, and Toyota


In the quest for attention, it seems more and more marketing teams are opting into comedic routines. And, more and more, most of them are only creating their own public relations nightmares. Here are three recent favorites before an explanation that pinpoints why advertisers seem to be missing the mark.

Lawfirms.com Yanks Ad That Jabs At Illegal Immigration

LawFirms.com recently created an ad for a fictitious iPhone “app” ad called iCoyote. The app supposedly packed “all of the features of a real immigrant smuggler into the iPhone. Using GPS, navigate through the patrol packed desert without worrying about that pesky Border Patrol.”

After the ad earned attention from Adam Ostrow at Mashable, the creative that was attributed to "the tasteless sense of humor of two employees that are likely to be fired” was taken down. In its place, Lawfirms.com posted a half-hearted apology.

We regret posting the iCoyote social media experiment. Obviously, this campaign did not hit the mark and we apologize to anyone who was offended by the content. Our mission is to help consumers find legal information, and if necessary, with legal counsel and we're continually striving to find creative ways to introduce people to LawFirms.com.

Toyota Earns Negative Impressions Over Lawsuit

Toyota, with some help from ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, hit "publicity pay dirt" after its faux-stalker campaign landed the company in a lawsuit. Right. It seems someone forgot to tell Amber Duick that she had agreed to be the brunt of the joke as she believed someone really was stalking her.

The prank, covered by Techdirt and the Consumerist, may cost the company as much as $10 million after Duick "had difficulty eating, sleeping and going to work" because she believed a "lunatic" stranger was planning to visit.

According to the coverage, she even received a bill from a hotel that the stranger supposedly "trashed." So far, Toyota is standing firm on its commitment to comedy, saying Duick opted in via a disclaimer.

That excuse is about as funny as hiding evidence from plaintiffs in cases stemming from highway deaths and injuries across the U.S.

Pepsi Pushes Feminist Buttons Over iPhone App

Another "app" accident (and this one is real) comes from the same people who approved the defacing of the Tropicana brand. PepsiCo Inc. promised to help men "score" with two dozen stereotypes of women. The apps give participants pickup lines and a scoreboard. Well, sort of.

Nancy Johnston, columnist for The Baltimore Sun, hit upon some of the "humorous" anecdotes in her column: "Meet a girl who's gone through a bad breakup? Pepsi will help you find an ice cream parlor to take her to, so she feels you really care. Want to convince twin sisters to get a little romantic (and incestuous)? The application thoughtfully supplies groin, hip and back exercises, so you don't pull any muscles during your conquest."

Pepsi has since apologized, but the apology seems to have picked up on the pat "poke fun at yourself" exercise that has crept into the public relations playbook. The apology reads: "Amp tweeted, “Our app tried 2 show the humorous lengths guys go 2 pick up women. We apologize if it’s in bad taste & appreciate your feedback” and then adds its own “pepsifail” hashtag (#).

So What Have Advertisers Forgotten About Funny?

There is no question that "funny" ads attract more attention than straightforward advertising. When done right, consumers forget the pitch and then run off to share the punchline with family and friends. I even have a few studies for students that reveal funny can increase retention and response rates by as much as 300 percent over not-funny advertisements.

So what's going wrong?

Some claim that Americans are losing their sense of humor. There is certainly some truth to the theory, and anyone can make an adequate case (I've even made this case in past case studies). However, the real culprit isn't the public. The real failure seems to be too much cheap shot comedy.

Cheap shot comedy includes all those lovable little quips that occur all the time in entertainment. It's top of mind and off the cuff that is funny in the moment or given a specific situation. Otherwise, it wouldn't be funny at all.

Stand-up comedians and late night talk show hosts rely on an ample supply of cheap shot comedy. And, some of it works in sitcoms too, because the context is expansive and fictional. So why doesn't it work for advertisers?

Since companies are not comedians and advertising is more contextually inclusive than situational, writing funny advertisements seldom includes shooting from the hip. In fact, most funny lines bounced around during a creative brainstorming session are supposed to be burned up and forgotten because they are not funny outside the moment.

Don't misunderstand me. Humor works for advertising. It's also hard work. Hard enough that you'll have to come back tomorrow if you want some tips in how to make it work. I might toss up a few solutions for the three "funny fail" ads above or I might make fun of them instead. I haven't decided.

Tuesday, October 27

Pitching Wind: Public Relations


"The traditional one-way media model has definitely had its day. So agencies are talking to clients about these engagement models much more." — Sam Lucas, chair of Burson-Marsteller to Adweek.

With consistency, public relations practitioners, even those who shrugged off social media earlier, are giving up on pitches and turning toward directly engaging consumers through original content they and their agencies are creating. And why not?

Diminishing Circulation Feeds Social Media For Now

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, 379 remaining daily newspapers had a total circulation of 30.4 million, down 10 percent since April. Sunday papers were not exempt. Of 563 daily newspapers, circulation had dropped to 40 million, down 7.49 percent. Magazines don't fare much better.

However, reactionary planning might backfire in the long run. Mark Hass, CEO and partner of MH Group Communications, who told Adweek that traditional media is a lot less important than it used to be, might be describing an accurate view of media today. But what about tomorrow?

The papers that remain, especially those that are moving to electronic platforms, will still be there tomorrow. One recent study shows that print publishers are very keen on the next step in distribution. And that distribution model will one day be mobile.

• More than 80 percent of newspaper and magazine publishers believe people will rely more heavily on mobile devices as a primary information source in the next three years.

• Nearly 70 percent of respondents agree that mobile is receiving more attention at their publications this year than last. More than a third believe their publication already has a well-developed plan for attacking and conquering the mobile market.

• Forty-four percent of respondents who track mobile’s impact on their Web site traffic said the devices increased visits by up to 10 percent today. Half believe mobile traffic to their Web sites will increase by 5 to 25 percent in the next two years.

If publishers diminish the cost of print (despite the majority of publishers wanting a print-electronic solution) and readers overcome mobile setbacks, some publications may flourish.

Restructuring Public Relations Firms May Diminish Their Value

Not always, but often, the pubic relations industry was commanding higher retainers than social media. So firms that throw too far into social media may diminish their own value as their media relations function becomes devalued over time. Worse for them, an overemphasis on direct-to-consumer communication, which was typically seen as a function of marketing, could seriously shift the practice toward astroturf or content resembling the modern press release (most of which are unreadable).

At the same time, newspapers that do survive and adapt with better mobile solutions may develop very different relations around public relations, thereby cutting out what some journalists consider client-side gatekeepers. And in some cases, journalists who work for re-emerging news teams might even remember which public relations practitioners kept the lines of communication open and which did not.

When you add it all up, the trends suggest an increasing need for an integrated team approach over attempts to control communication and marketing budgets. Simply put, public relations cannot afford to diminish the value of media relations to the point of alienation. After all, media isn't dying as much as it is being restructured. So what to do?

Consider the core functions of each discipline. Social media tends to work best in delivering customer-centric content (sometimes with a customer service overlap). Marketing and advertising work best in focusing on prospect-centric demand creation. And public relations tends to work best in reaching publics beyond the customer. Sure, overlaps exist around every corner, but recognizing priorities is still important.

Monday, October 26

Dominating Display Ads: U.K. Online Spending


Telecommunications companies in the United Kingdom take social networks seriously, according to a new study by comScore, Inc. which revealed social networking sites accounted for 13.8 billion display ad impressions in August 2009. The study also showed that while display ads skew toward younger audiences, advertisers are marketing to every age group.

Display Ad, Demographic Targeting

• Ages 15-24 29.0%
• Ages 25-34 22.3%
• Ages 35-44 21.1%
• Ages 45-54 15.9%
• Ages 55+ 11.7%

"[This] data suggests that every demographic segment is reached via social networking sites and that no particular age segment accounts for an overwhelming percentage of ads delivered," said Mike Read, comScore managing director, Europe. "Given the overall reach and volume of ads delivered on social networking sites, brand advertisers who ignore this channel may be missing a significant opportunity and enabling their competitors to gain a dominant share of voice in the channel."

While the study was confined to the United Kingdom, it does reveal which industries are placing their faith in social networks. Beyond the study, our research shows entertainment and travel are particularly well suited to content delivery, which allows these segments to rely on display ads less while still benefiting from significant reach via groups and fan pages.

The dominance by telecommunications mirrors major media spending reports, according to Brandweek. The The Nielsen Co. recently released a study that shows marketers in telecommunications were among the handful of industries to spend more on advertising in the first eight months of 2009 then they did in the same period in 2008. Fast food, insurance, lending, and cable/satellite companies also spent more on advertising.

Building A Better Display Ad

For all the increased investment in display ads, some companies still struggle with the medium. One of the most common mistakes marketers make is relying on logo dominant display ads as opposed to ads that make rational, emotional, or visceral appeal. Instead, too many are still stuck on attention-grabbing intrusive visuals with "click here" demands.

The second most common mistake is choosing an appropriate landing page once consumers do click on the advertisement. Most marketers attempt to drive social network participants to a sales page or static Web site as opposed to a social media site or social network page that is better suited to the medium. Online, the more effective solution is to drive consumers to a point of engagement.

For example, Flip Video, which is currently running a display ad on Facebook, drives consumers to a Facebook fan page, which includes uncensored consumer testimonials and product displays. For Flip Video, the tactic makes more sense than driving consumers directly to the store or pitch page.

So what does all this mean? The best marketers are investing more in a recession, investing more online, and investing in social media programs that integrate well with traditional and new media. Is it any wonder more companies have made social media part of the mix? Not really.

Friday, October 23

Clowning For Attention: Western Washington University


Selective attention, our ability to unconsciously filter visual and audio information, has always been a challenge for advertising. In the last five decades, advertisers have ponied up an increasing amount of ridiculous commercials and guerilla gimmicks in an attempt to win us over, even when they knew the results weren't sustainable.

The concept was simple enough. Whereas 1920s advertising was informational and appealed to rational thought, 1950s advertising shifted the paradigm to make emotional and visceral appeals. By the 1980s, there were so many emotional and visceral appeals, we began to filter them out, prompting advertisers to look for new ways to stand out. You know, like clowns.

Clowns Don't Work So Much Anymore.

Clowns, or "That Guy" as they are sometimes dubbed in social media, are struggling to get our attention. (Or, as I once commented to Seth Godin, purple cows tend to lose their impact in a pasture full of them.) If everyone is a clown, funny noses become commonplace.

While the research was intended to demonstrate how distracting cell phones are, researcher and psychology professor Ira Hyman at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., has helped pinpoint why advertising seems to be losing its luster. He employed a clown to ride a unicycle through campus and tracked the reactions.

Of the 317 pedestrians crossing the main square of the campus, only 25 percent of those using their mobile phones noticed the clown. Fifty-one percent of those people walking alone noticed the clown. Sixty-one percent of the people using music players saw the clown. Seventy-one percent of those who were walking or chatting in groups noticed him.

"When people engage in demanding cognitive tasks, they may not become aware of a variety of stimuli in the environment," he told The Press Association. The phenomenon is called "inattentional blindness". Where it applies to advertising is in consideration of which environment people are more attuned to. It seems mobile content and conversations win.

Clowns, Grapefruit, And Social Media

C. Robert Cargill, writing about the success of the film Paranormal Activity, retold a great Dana Carvey allegory about fame, involving a grapefruit.

If you take an ordinary grapefruit, put it on a pedestal, and then broadcast that pedestal on television 24 hours a day, you would have a star. It doesn't matter if anyone watches the grapefruit; they'd simply see it flipping channels. Take the grapefruit to the mall, put it under glass, and people gather around and whisper “Hey, I think that’s THE grapefruit” before taking their photo moment.

Elaborating on the story, if you televised 100 grapefruit on pedestals 24 hours a day on different channels and then took them to the mall, then people might only say "Oh, there are those grapefruits again," assuming they even noticed them at all.

Recently, Adam Kmiec seemed to struggle with the concept, despite enough experience to know better, as it relates to Chris Brogan. Meaning no disrespect, Brogan is one of THE original grapefruits.

So as more and more grapefruit add themselves to the mix, they just don't seem as interesting, even if they are sweeter, riper, older, or more experienced. Right. The new ones have to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Or, in other words, you can't be a grapefruit and expect to be noticed anymore. Be something else, while accepting that being a juicer is less sustainable.

Thursday, October 22

Failing At Public Relations: Obama Administration


You know your public relations efforts are failing when you talk to more people (reach) more often (frequency) about an issue (message) and it produces a negative outcome despite having a powerful brand. When that happens, the most prudent course of action is to shut up and listen to people. But not the Obama administration.

Their strategy seems crystal clear. If you don't like a plan, they will talk you to death. And if you still don't like a plan, they will talk about you to death. And if you still don't agree, then they'll declare war. Shudder the thought.

Why the war on Fox News will backfire.

Before pointing out the obvious, I might offer up that this post has less to do with politics than it does communication. Simply put, politics doesn't have to be part of the equation to plainly see that the Obama administration is not only failing at public relations, but they also seem to be their own worst enemy (even more so than the previous administration, which one would have thought to be impossible).

There has always been plenty of evidence to support the idea that Fox News leans right. There has always been plenty of evidence that MSNBC leans left. In general, there is ample evidence to support most media leans left and talk radio leans right (but not as much as some people think).

Indeed. The vision of Walter Lippman is dead. Objective journalism is at the end of its brief, but worthwhile run. And the public has lost its appetite for true news in favor of flavored coverage.

Any questions?

And if you work for any White House administration, you have a choice. You live with it or you resort to diatribe. The current administration has chosen diatribe based on the mistaken notion that if you cannot win the debate, you beat the debater.

Of course, that tried-and-true political tactic doesn't work with the media. It only compounds the problem.

When you take media "opposition" seriously, it means you risk increasing its credibility. And in the case with the White House war against Fox News, that is precisely what is happening.

Ratings for Fox News is up, easily beating CNN and MSNBC. In fact, Fox News averaged 2.25 million total viewers in prime time for the third quarter, up 2 percent over the previous year, according to left leaning The Huffington Post.

Meanwhile, White House poll numbers are dropping. Why? As President Obama and his team obsess over criticism, anyone who is uncertain or critical of unpopular policies are added to a list of undesirables. Take your pick: health care reform policies or the struggling economic climate or the troop buildup in Afghanistan or the abandonment of a promise for open communication or the failure to deliver a tax break for seniors making less than $50,000 a year. And the list goes on, with dozens of more reasons why people are interested in hearing other ideas. And, according to the administration, you'll find them on Fox News.

Wait a minute. That's not an attack ... that's advertising. At the current rate of decline, Fox News stands to gain a majority while other media outlets play ball with the President. Even the President is speaking out against Fox News, but his position makes a play for another tactic — good-natured belittling. (Sorry, David. That will not work either.)

The real criticism, where the American public ought to be concerned (contrary to President Obama's opinion), is from the First Amendment Center at the University of Kentucky

"The White House has basically said that they don’t believe in the marketplace of ideas, they’re not willing to engage in debate, and they are going to be associated with John Adams and the Sedition Act and Richard Nixon and his ‘enemies’ list — is that the company they want to be in?” says Mike Farrell, director.

It sure seems that way. Anytime political communicators choose a clash of personalities over opinions, it means their opinion might be weak. And, based on a 10-point drop in polling, it seems to me that people are tuning to Fox News because they do not agree with the President; they are not changing their opinions because Fox News is influencing them.

The lesson is simple really. Obama won an election because the public has been rallying around those who affirm their ideas. And right now, what the Obama administration seems to be missing is they have yet to be a source or affirmation because while Americans might want some of the ideas presented on the campaign trail, they are less than thrilled with the proposed execution of those ideas.

Mostly, the bills don't deliver on promises. They might make things worse.

Wednesday, October 21

Integrating Strategy: Social Media


During BlogWorld & New Media Expo, Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford Motor Company, mentioned how social media has helped Ford better integrate communication across advertising, marketing, and public relations. In fact, Ford will invest as much as 25 percent of its marketing budget on digital and social media this year.

The budget isn't assigned to one department. It is the cumulation of several communication department investments, a concept that exemplifies why we saw 2009 would mark the year of communication.

Integration Remains Elusive, Even Within Social Media

While some companies like Ford are moving forward, others seem to be moving backwards. In developing social media programs, they tend to develop what they call "strategies" for specific blogs, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.), aggregators (Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.), and distribution services (YouTube, BlogTalkRadio, etc.). The two most common outcomes are: content duplication, where every account carries duplicated content, diminishing content value; or content fragmentation, where every account seems to exist in its own isolated bubble, competing for attention.

Developing a social media program requires a big picture view, with specific tactics and interactions assigned to account as it pertains to an overall communication strategy (note that I did say "social media strategy"). While there might be some overlap in the execution (e.g., Twitter updating Facebook), integrated social media provides a more robust experience for visitors with more choices. It also helps the communicator or communicators prioritize and manage the accounts.

Earlier this year, I developed a quick tip deck on how to select social media tools for organizations based on their audience, available content, and objectives. While it wasn't part of the 10-minute speed presentation, choosing the right tools greatly aids in time management.

The three studies ranged from managing a single blog without any social network outreach to an integrated social media program with YouTube and a blog, highly engaged Facebook and Twitter accounts, and outreach across several fan forums and groups. The latter, illustrated above, somewhat mirrored Jason Falls' Prioritizing Your Networks, except we tend to break out "customers" into participants, advocates, evangelists, and fanatics because each public tends to engage and promote in different ways. Time management would have been challenging without a plan.

Oversimplified, the social media program required frequent checks in order to answer fan questions on social networks. However, content sharing was planned, with the blog updated approximately three times per week with Fridays dedicated to new cast interviews on YouTube with additional insights provided on the blog. New content tended to drive the conversation on social networks, with each having a different function (e.g., Facebook tended to guide fans toward showings in select cities and encourage topical engagement; Twitter tended to cater to evangelists while introducing the film to the fans of specific cast members).

In contrast, I manage my own social media efforts differently. This blog is primarily used as an education tool. I tend to use Twitter as a conversational medium with bloggers and colleagues (and am currently developing a communication professional "300" list* to augment a near future experimental project). I tend to retain Facebook for closer friends and colleagues. And then, of course, there are a variety of other networks I keep up with regularly.

My point here is that social media is situational, which is why many "experts" have a hard time pinning it down. While social media programs may share similarities, no two are really alike. Yet, by developing a big picture view of the program (beyond joining every network on the planet because they seem popular), it becomes significantly easier to manage it.

Three More Sources for Social Media Time Management

Social Media Time Management by Amber Naslund

Three Steps To Better Time Management of Your Social Media Marketing by Rich Brooks

• My Social Media System by John Jantsch

*Valeria Maltoni's recent 100 Twitter list greatly influenced our initial picks.

Tuesday, October 20

Being Punked: CNBC, Fox, Reuters

Yesterday, Fox, CNBC as well as the Washington Post (which deleted its report) and The New York Times via Reuters, all went forward with a news release stating the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had reversed its position on climate change.

The fraudulent news release, issued by The Yes Men, was part of an elaborate hoax to draw attention to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's environmental position. The hoax included a fake press conference that was disrupted when real representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce showed up.


While The Yes Men claim to be activists known for posing as corporate executives in order to reveal how corporate greed negatively influences public policy, they have also used the opportunity to plug their documentary film, The Yes Men Fix the World, which opens at the Avalon Theater in NW Washington this Friday, Oct. 23. According to their site, they collaborated with BeyondTalk.net and DC Climate Action Factory, a semi-autonomous group sponsored by Avaaz.org.

Since, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued a statement that it intends to ask "law enforcement authorities to investigate this event." However, the statement smartly seems to stop short of pressing for legal action or a civil suit.

The post-hoax reviews are mostly positive. The San Francisco Chronicle lamented that the release was not real. Grist called it brilliant. Bloomberg reported the facts. And The Hill pointed out how various organizations might have been keener on recognizing the release was a hoax.

While hoaxes are hard to condone, this one certainly reinforces a weakness in modern reporting. The acceleration of communication continues to undermine reliable information and the public is increasingly fickle in which side it might take. The Balloon Boy hoax was billed as pathetic while The Yes Men are made media heroes, at least for a day.

Monday, October 19

Marketing Content: Mobile Impacts Brand


The next great leap in communication might be mobile, but consumers are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with mobile Web connections and content. Seventy-five percent have experienced slow load times, and more than half reported that the Web site content was either too large or small for the size of their mobile phone's screen.

The survey was published by Gomez, Inc., which specializes in Web application experience management. The study was conducted by Equation Research on behalf of Gomez. It included more than 1,000 mobile Web users and can be found here.

Additional Key Findings About Mobile Content.

• 85 percent of consumers said they are only willing to retry a mobile Web site one, sometimes two, times if it does not work.
• 61 percent of consumers said they are unlikely to return to a Web site if they had trouble accessing it from their phone.
• 40 percent of consumers said they would very likely visit a competitor's Web site in order to find the information they want.

"While mobile users may accept sites that are 'light' on richness and small in form factor, they are evidently not willing to sacrifice performance," said Matt Poepsel, Gomez's VP of performance strategies. "The mobile Web is all about convenience — the Web in your pocket — and slow mobile pages contradict that benefit."

There Is More To The Story About Mobile.

Despite experiences, mobile Web users have exceedingly high expectations with 50 percent willing to wait only 6-10 seconds or less for a Web page to load on their phone before giving up. Only one in five is willing to wait more than 20 seconds.

The high level of expectation has been perpetuated by mobile phone companies, almost all of which market themselves with the pretense that their network is faster and more reliable. Despite the cause of the evaluated expectations, mobile Web users are most likely to blame the site over their providers.

While solutions are largely absent from the study, there are opportunities and alternatives. For the mobile and tech industry, there is an increasing need to deliver faster devices on networks capable of carrying an increased load. For advertising agencies, the solution is to design simpler, faster loading sites rather than robust sites that increase load times. Or, as an alternative, build in mobile counterparts.

There are, of course, other solutions. Companies can augment their Web communication and marketing programs directing consumers to either custom applications on the iPhone or by using any number of social networks to communicate with customers. RSS readers and networks like Facebook and Twitter are well suited for engaging consumers on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device.

Without question, content portability will become a decisive factor in communication over the next two years. As of July 2009, there were more than 56.9 million mobile devices, up from 42.5 million in July 2008. According to the study, eBay is an early success story in providing mobile content. Its iPhone application generated $400 million in sales since its launch in 2008.

Friday, October 16

Spotting Trends: Seven Myths About Blogging


Today at BlogWorld New Media Expo 2009 in Las Vegas, BlogCatalog will release excerpts from a research study “An Analysis of the Blogosphere: Its Present & Future Impact,” which was conducted by SPECTRUM Brand Strategy Group, LLC (SBSG). The finding are based on a compilation of interviews with influential bloggers; a quantitative survey of BlogCatalog members; and a qualitative discussion moderated by the SBSG research team.

“What we have found is that many of the standing theories embraced by social media experts are not necessarily based on the experience represented by the majority of independent bloggers,” said Tony Berkman, president of BlogCatalog. “In some cases, the SBSG study seems to suggest that many social media experts are isolating themselves from the greater population of the blogosphere.”

Seven Trends In Social Media Related To Blogging

1. Who are bloggers? While many people speculate younger audiences dominate blog authorship, the reality is that they are dominated by “digital immigrants” (Generation X and Baby Boomers). “Digital natives” (Generation Y and younger) are still exploring how they might best use blogs.

2. Will Generation Y follow these leaders? While there is an educator/student relationship, there is also an increasing divide between A-list “digital immigrants” and the greater population of the bloggers, especially younger content creators. As A-list bloggers have become less accessible, the majority of newer bloggers are looking for better solutions and different connections.

3. Do A-list bloggers have better insights? There is no correlation between A-list bloggers providing better insights
than novice or undiscovered bloggers. In fact, as A-list bloggers become more comfortable and complacent with some tactics, the study suggests new, novice, and undiscovered bloggers tend to take more risks that lead to innovation.

4. Is new media replacing traditional media? The vast majority of bloggers have no intention of becoming citizen journalists. It is more likely that content creators, citizen journalists, and journalists will become increasingly interdependent and not competitive with each other.

5. Can people trust blogs? Among bloggers, trusting other bloggers is not an issue. As readers, bloggers are
generally more suspicious of corporate blogs and traditional media than of other bloggers, even those who remain anonymous. There is also an increasing need for more human oversight over algorithms in discovering quality content.

6. How do bloggers measure success? Bloggers clearly and consistently identify their content as opinion communication and the authors aim to receive recognition and readerships. While corporations are interested in measuring a return on investment, most bloggers are more concerned about affirmation and engagement.

7. Will micro-blogging and social networks replace blogs? Most bloggers see micro-blogging and blogging as an interdependent activity, with micro-blogging, especially Twitter, being used to market blog content. They change where the discussion takes place, but thought leadership occurs on blogs.

There are more conversation topics to be found in excerpts being released today. There are additional points to be found in the full study, which is still being compiled.

Additional Points of Interest At BlogWorld

BlogCatalog is also handing out information on two upcoming Bloggers Unite events in November — Veterans Day: Who Will Stand on Nov. 11 and Bloggers Unite: Fight for Preemies on Nov. 17. Please save the dates and dedicate a blog post for both important causes.

If you are attending BlogWorld and have questions about either event, look for me Friday morning or Saturday afternoon, after I finish my class at UNLV. Or, look for our communication manager Hadley Thom, who will also be frequenting the BlogCatalog booth between sessions.

Who wouldn't be with Clive Berkman passing out special treats for attendees. He cooked the chocolate at my home last night; I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 15

Aggregating Insights: Valeria Maltoni


When anybody publishes a social media list such as the Conversation Agent's 100 PR People Worth Following on Twitter, people take notice — both those who are on the list and those who are not.

Maybe just as interesting as some of the people on the list, Valeria Maltoni recently tracked and shared the varied reactions to it, which seems to range from dismissive cynicism to grateful elation. It contains some fascinating insights into social media.

"You're not famous until my mother has heard of you." — Jay Leno

As social media has continued to evolve, aggregation has been an increasingly powerful component, especially for those engaged in the field of communication and those hoping to be recognized for their thoughts and contributions. Whether those lists are post votes (e.g., Digg), authority algorithms (e.g., Technorati), participation in ranking programs (e.g., AdAge Power 150), or recommendations from well-read communicators like Maltoni, they tend to drive the discovery that happens online.

In fact, according to study excerpts from Spectrum Brand Strategy LLC to be released by BlogCatalog at BlogWorld this weekend, bloggers report they are most concerned about opinion affirmation and reader engagement over any other measure, which is vastly different than the ROI measured by most companies (but not so different from the most common goals set by consultants who want to be hired by those companies).

Being almost famous, it seems, has become a global pastime online. Enough so that many social media participants invest as much time developing tactics to climb to the top of something as some do creating content with value. A few even develop systems to create the perception of influence even when they are not influential. But that is precisely why Maltoni's list has impact. There was no algorithm to game. It was simply a matter of consistent behavior, which she simply states in her follow-up post.

"We all want to be famous people, and the moment we want to be something we are no longer free." — Jiddu Krishnamurti

If you are looking for trends in social media, Maltoni's list presents a one step removed glimpse of the future. Respected people over programs will eventually play a greater role in vetting the increasing amount of content being uploaded on the Web, much like editors and critics have done in the past. Some briefs are attempting to do this for public consumption. Some social media consultants (including our company) already produce private market intelligence reports for companies hoping to have an edge. And in the near future, we'll be doing more of it with an experimental project we have waiting in the wings.

It's a vastly different approach than previous algorithms, some of which only aimed to get the attention of the people placed on it (list owners used to get props for nothing more than ranking others). More and more often, it will be based on the quality of the content or level of contribution or basis of an idea because the value of the lists, recommendations, and vetted content will be determined by objectiveness over exhibiting favoritism or partiality to the so-called famous social media participants.

"I'd love to live in Ireland but I'd like to live as me, not what someone thinks I am." — Van Morrison

Another point of interest to take away from Maltoni's second post is, as mentioned, how various people react to being included or not. It's an extension of how they perceive being famous to some degree (even if the list had nothing to do with being popular).

In general, it seems that most were dismissive if they felt more famous than the list maker, grateful if they respected the person, irritated if they felt more famous than those included, eager if they were looking for a boost in their own popularity, and so on and so forth. In my case, I was grateful, especially because I never pursue being included on any algorithm list like the AdAge Power 150 or outreach-oriented compilation like All Top. I'd rather people discover content when they are looking for (and hopefully finding) something relevant or in developing a relationship along the way.

That road may take a little longer to get someone to their destination, but it also ensures you will never overemphasize "famous" in the social media equation or eventually find yourself lamenting those success like Van Morrison. It's better to remember that public relations and communication objectively vetted by humans is better, qualified or not (Maltoni is qualified), because the best lists have nothing to do with being almost famous, as Maltoni said. There are better measures.

Wednesday, October 14

Forgetting Flights: Virgin America


On most flights, Virgin America has it all. Its mission is to make flying good again — with brand new planes, attractive fares, top notch service, and innovative amenities. It's the kind of reinvention that has passengers clamoring to board the plane even if it means waiting 15 minutes or an hour on the tarmac.

Or is it?

While anyone flying out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) might know that fog or rain frequently set departure times back as it did yesterday, no one anticipated that Virgin America would forget to notify passengers that their flights would be delayed. The first notification came 25 minutes after the scheduled departure time.

Sure, most passengers had a hunch that the flight was delayed, given it had never been assigned a gate. Some learned about it while hovering around the departure screens scattered throughout the terminal, partaking in a surreal event as their scheduled "on time" departure came and went without so much as a gate notification, actual departure time, or service agent update. A few checked the Website on smart phones and laptops. A handful turned to passenger service agents boarding other flights.

"We don't know. Watch the terminal monitors."

It was the most common answer before busy passenger service agents would take off for parts unknown. Less common was asking delayed passengers to empathize with other passengers who were also delayed. Those passengers had to wait an hour, one agent said, pointing to the group he was about to allow to board.

Unfortunately, any empathy for others eventually eroded as it took a full 2 1/2 hours before Virgin America would have any direct communication with passengers again. All the while, British Airlines and JetBlue updated their customers, offering apologies for the briefest of delays, which only seemed to add insult to injury for those left in the dark by Virgin America.

Even after Virgin America finally assigned the flight a gate, it took another half hour before the team provided updates with any sense of clarity. Shortly after, they attempted to infuse fun into the situation by offering free drink vouchers to the passenger who could produce the oldest penny or guess the singer of a song playing over the gate intercom.

While the games did temporarily take the edge off a bad situation, one wonders if Virgin America took too long to find its groove. Are leather seats, in-flight video entertainment, and mood lighting enough to keep passengers coming back for more?

It mostly depends on the unique perspective of each individual passenger and whether previous experiences make the mix-up an exception or the rule. Otherwise, it seems Virgin America learned a valuable lesson. If you don't deliver on your core service, no amount of reinvented amenities, services, or selective apologies can make up for it.

There are, after all, only two core services for every airline. Deliver passengers and their luggage to the destination on time, and communicate with them when you don't. Added values — ranging from comfort to humorous onboard educational videos — only count when the first two services are met.

In this case, Virgin America didn't break guitars. It only broke an opportunity to turn more passengers into advocates or evangelists.

Tuesday, October 13

Stacking The Odds: Magazine Publishers


The story may be stale for some, but it's no less relevant. AdvertisingAge published an interesting article last week, revealing that rival magazine companies are discussing the creation of an ad network that would sell targeted ad space across many industry Web sites.

While considered very preliminary, the concept is that each participant could get better ad rates. Owning their own network, these publishers believe, thereby reduces the increasing number of independent ad networks that return pennies on the dollars.

According to the IBM Global Business Services study highlighted earlier, this is the kind of network that many advertising professionals expect in the next three to five years or less.

Will a collaborative magazine ad network work?

According to the article, a magazine publishers' network, if it could achieve the crucial scale required, could offer advertisers behavioral targeting on professionally produced, "well-lit" sites. However, depending on the structure and whether publishers would retain independent account executives, it could also skew sales toward favored publishers.

While it might seem like a prudent move for magazine publishers, they would have to take care not to model such a network after the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970, which may have saved some newspapers in the short term, but resulted in near dual-paper monopolies that hindered start-ups.

Generally, most participating newspapers consolidated advertising sales and distribution. In recent years, the number of joint operating agreements has declined considerably. Personally, I wonder sometimes if the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 didn't set the stage for declining print circulations today.

Specifically, had newspapers not grown complacent with little fear of competition, would they have been faster to act in developing a modern distribution model that paid for itself? We may never know.

Monday, October 12

Tossing Baseballs For Business: Scott Anthony


Last week, Scott Anthony, managing director of Innosight Ventures, applied the wisdom of Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein to explain measurement. Espstein implied that some people focus too much on baseball.

"When you're putting together a winning team, that honestly doesn't matter," said Epstein in reference to J.D. Drew's relatively low number of runs batted. "When you have a player who takes a ton of walks, who doesn't put the ball in play at an above average rate, and is a certain type of hitter, he's not going to drive in a lot of runs. Runs scored, you couldn't be more wrong. If you look at a rate basis, J.D. scores a ton of runs."

Anthony goes on to tie in business management to his article at Harvard Business Publishing, saying that business managers can learn a lot from how baseball general managers build and manage their talent portfolio. How do you really know if you are focusing on the right metrics?

Communication works much the same way. Sure, I frequently write about the importance of communication measurement. It's important. Unmeasured communication is non-communication.

However, that is not to say that all measures have to dictate the course of communication, especially with social media where people have a propensity to add too much weight to the wrong metrics. For example, I know one company that wanted to drop its Twitter account and focus on Facebook based upon the number of members alone.

In this particular situation, it turned out that the positive impact of their communication was reliant on a certain percentage of people who were engaged both on Facebook and on Twitter. Specifically, those who were engaged on both networks tended to be evangelists who considered the Twitter account their personal connection whereas they viewed Facebook as a group for everyone. Contrary, the Facebook group consisted of participants, advocates, and evangelists.

Much like J.D. Drew's relatively low number of runs batted, separating the network into mere count columns does not always lead to the right conclusions. And in this regard, Anthony's observations for innovation might apply to communication. It would require a robust categorization scheme for classifying the type of communication, the reach of the communication, the engagement level of the audiences, and market circumstances (especially a competitive analysis).

Whereas Anthony said better metrics give Epstein a competitive advantage over his rivals, I might say that a better interpretation of metrics will often deliver a competitive advantage. It also ensures Advertising Rule 9 receives due diligence.

Friday, October 9

Attracting Attention: Who Will Stand For Veterans

Veterans Day might be a little less than a month away, but I'm not always certain we need to wait for a national holiday to think about veterans. After all, our servicemen and women do not confine their sacrifices to once or twice a year. The various organizations that support them don't either.

It's one of the reasons I signed on to assist the producers of Who Will Stand to host an event at BloggersUnite.org on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. The online event, Veterans Day: Who Will Stand features five nonprofit organizations that could use some additional support this year. All of them were included in the film.


In addition to covering the plight of physically and/or psychologically wounded soldiers after they have returned from war, the independent documentary highlights why veterans' programs and nonprofit organizations are so vital to supporting the services provided by government. Having learned more about them, I can safely add U.S. Vets and Soldiers' Angels, which I've written about before, here and here.

Five Nonprofit Organizations Featured In Who Will Stand

The Soldierʼs Project helps provide free counseling and support to military service members who have served or who expect to serve in the Iraq and/or Afghanistan conflicts and to veterans of those conflicts. The services are completely confidential and are not reported to any government agencies.

Defending Freedom raises awareness and support for servicemen and women with their Defending Freedom wristbands. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to military charities to support the troops and their families. More than 673,000 wristbands have been sent overseas.

Canines for Combat Wounded provides service dogs for servicemen and women injured in combat. Beyond providing companionship, the dogs are specially trained to work with the soldiers according to their needs, helping them live longer, happier, more rewarding lives.

Blue Star Mothers provides support for active duty service personnel, assists veterans organizations, and is available to assist in homeland volunteer efforts. The organization consists of mothers who have or have had children honorably serving in the military.

Wounded Warrior Project raises awareness and enlists the aid of the public in meeting the needs of severely injured servicemen and women by providing direct services that honor and empower wounded warriors. They also advocate for legislation to provide critically-needed services to family caregivers of severely wounded warriors.

At the helm of this event, which includes a special showing in Las Vegas, is director/producer Phil Valentine. Valentine, who began his career as a television scriptwriter in 2000, is a seasoned filmmaker, having produced films that include Gags, Siren, and The Las Vegas Abductions.

Thursday, October 8

Changing Environments: 2010 Ford Taurus Outdoor


Digital billboards are hardly new, but there seems to be some potential in the way Western New York Ford dealers will use them. When it starts to rain, the message changes. When there is a full moon, the message changes. When any number of 50 situations occur, the message changes to pinpoint the situation and deliver a situational message.

"The boards allow us to talk to people about relevant local events, news and weather, while having some fun introducing the vehicle's features," said Chuck Basil, representative of the Ford Dealers of Western New York. "The new Ford Taurus is a very unexpected vehicle so we wanted our advertising to follow suit."

That is what the campaign is about: It will introduce people to the new 2010 Ford Taurus, with western New York Ford dealers hoping to drive home the message that the car, along with the billboard messages, are "unexpected." While the creative thread is thin, the application has potential for both Ford and the future of advertising.

"Advertisers are now able to change their messages as often as they want, set up their ads to run up-to-the-minute weather forecasts or even link to a Twitter or Facebook account updating the board's message almost instantly," says Todd Schaefer of Lamar Advertising. "The creative options are endless."

Why Situational Communication Will Work In The Future

While marketers are borrowing from their public relations, advertising, and corporate communication budgets to cobble together social media funding, social media is not replacing them. Situational communication is replacing it.

We already know that the course of most communication is to steadily increase the impact of proximity (location) and demographics (population characteristics) thereby increasing the connection with the consumer. But what hasn't been fully explored, since the individual targeting featured in the film Minority Report changed too frequently to be scalable, is how technology could put us on the right path.

Could you, perhaps, read this post on the bus stop shelter poster or duratran signage at the airport? And if not this post, then why not The New York Times, with a certain percentage of space saved for the content sponsor? And while e-reader technology is still not cheap enough to mass distribute devices today, we might ask why print publications haven't been exploring such options to deliver the distribution devices for pennies on the dollar and thereby eliminate distribution and printing costs.

Right. For all the buzz from some publishers about consumers paying for subscriptions, most of them have forgotten that consumers never really paid for the paper. Advertisers did. Subscription prices barely covered the price for home delivery.

So how does the 2010 Ford Taurus campaign fit into the picture? Digital publications could deliver digital advertising as situational as Lamar Advertising's outdoor concept, e.g., allowing an investment firm to deliver messages based upon the fluctuations of the stock market but only for those readers that meet a certain demographic profile.

All it requires is for modern advertising creatives to stop writing for each other and return to their golden era roots, where copywriters once wrote as if they were writing to a single consumer (much like some social media pros do today). In fact, in our playbook, digital distribution would not only make this possible, but it would also make it a necessity. Leap forward already.

Wednesday, October 7

Shining Starters: 10 Tips For Blogger-People Relations


While there are many top ten lists for bloggers, most seasoned bloggers — independent and organizational alike — will tell you that writing content is only part of the equation for sustainable success. Virtually every successful blog does more than offer good content. Many establish a sense of connection and sometimes community despite a presentation-like format.

The ability to infuse engagement, outreach, and relations into any social media program is the difference between having a successful program vs. one that doesn't seem to work. After all, if anyone can write a post and be successful, then every blog would have better than 200 readers. Most don't.

A few months ago, we performed an evaluation on an internal blog for a government agency. Despite the opportunity to employ it as a strong internal communication tool, the apparent lack of engagement and occasional adversarial tone from employees had left the communicators at a loss. What were they doing wrong?

In addition to providing six primary recommendations and 14 steps to realign the blog to meet its original objectives, there were some additional concepts missing from the program that had nothing to do with the nuts and bolts and writing posts. They had everything to do with people-to-people relations and organizational values. Here are ten tips.

Ten Common Sense Blogging Tips Beyond The Post

• Treat others with respect, even when you disagree with them, and they will respect you.
• Listen to what others have to say, and understand their point of view before being heard.
• Never be afraid of holding a less popular opinion, and people will add more value to your opinions.
• Keep your promises, even if it means making fewer promises, and people will know they can trust you.
• Allow others to share in your work from time to time and they will take responsibility for it.
• When others see justice used in solving problems, it reaffirms their sense of right and wrong.
• Invest one-on-one time with people, answering their questions and joining discussions, and they'll know you value them.
• If you expose yourself to diverse viewpoints and ideas, you'll benefit from improved critical thinking skills.
• Praise efforts, but never be afraid to improve, expand upon, or correct them, and the recognition means more.
• Lead a balanced life because the best posts and stories don't originate from online content.

From time to time, you'll find some of the best read and/or social media experts stumble on these points too, either slipping into diatribe or extending niceties to the point of pushing forward concepts laced with problems. It's okay. We're all human.

More to the point, however, is that observing those ten tips makes all the rest more manageable. Here are some of the better ones that we've collected. Enjoy.

Five More Blogging Tips From Around The Web

10 Simple Productivity Tips for Bloggers>Daily Blogging Tips from DailyBlogTips

10 Tips For Writing Blog Posts That Shine from Top Ten Blog Tips

• Build Upon Your Strengths As A Blogger from ProBlogger

Top 10 Tips for New Bloggers from Wired

• 10 Tips for Becoming a Great Corporate Blogger from Scout

Monday, October 5

Targeting Trends: UC Berkeley School of Law


According to a new consumer privacy study by the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology at UC Berkeley School of Law (Berkeley Law) and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, most Americans do not want online advertisements tailored by marketers to their specific interests. This study contradicts some finer points from The IBM Global Study released earlier.

The report, entitled "Americans Reject Tailored Advertising," shows 66 percent of adults said no to tailored ads. Even more concerning for marketers, between 73 and 86 percent will reject tailored advertising when they are told what information marketers intend to gather, including tracking behavior on websites and in retail stores.

The Study Reveals Irritated Consumers

Behavioral targeting, which involves following consumers’ actions and then tailoring advertisements for the consumers based on those actions, have come under increased scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission. Marketers insist behavioral targeting helps deliver the right ads to the right consumers. Privacy advocates argue it is an invasive practice that labels people.

• 92 percent of those polled agree there should be a law that requires websites and advertising companies to delete all stored information about an individual upon request
•  63 percent believe advertisers should be legally required to delete information about their internet activity immediately, whether requested or not.

The report demonstrates that, while younger Americans are less likely to reject tailored advertising (54 percent) than Americans over the age of 24, marketers may be pushing too far ahead and too fast. Harris Interactive warned marketers that consumers were open to behavioral targeting as long as it was constrained.

Friday, October 2

Driving Advertising: IBM Global Business Services Study


Ever since Michael Gass posted highlights from the executive summary of the IBM Global Business Services study on advertising, some people have been wondering what it all means. We broke it down into the reality, rewards, and risks associated with four segments.

Highlights From The IBM Global Study

IBM Study. Attention: Consumers are increasingly in control of how they view, interact with and filter advertising in a multichannel world, as they continue to shift their attention away from linear TV and adopt ad-skipping, sharing and rating tools.
Reality. Companies will have to consider increasing smaller groups of consumers, with increased sensitivity that even similar groups will react very differently to their message.
Reward. It will reinforce the concept that demonstrating a product and service contrast works.
Risk. In a world full of purple cows, no cow is different.

IBM Study. Creativity: Technology is allowing for more user-generated and peer-delivered content, and new ad
revenue-sharing models, allowing amateurs and semi-professionals to create lower-cost advertising content.
Reality. Other studies show that there is already an increasing demand by consumers to have someone help them vet the quality of content from the quantity of the content.
Reward. Some new talents may be discovered, creating unique opportunities for companies to support them.
Risk. It may take considerable time to swing back from popularity- and affirmation-based recommendations to objective consideration. However, over reliance on consumer-generated marketing will fade as companies realize consumers have a finite amount of time to invest in every company with a contest.

IBM Study. Measurement: Advertisers are demanding more individual-specific and involvement-based measurements, putting pressure on the traditional mass market model.
Reality. Shrinking representative tracking measures that skewed toward select demographics died three years ago.
Reward. Companies will be able to better understand the consumer they are trying to reach.
Risk. Over reliance on click measurements produces disastrous decisions; over targeting to smaller groups already creates inconsistent messages for many organizations. Someone has to move beyond group think.

IBM Study. Advertising Inventories: New entrants are making ad space that once was proprietary available through open, efficient exchanges. As a result, more than half of the ad professionals polled expect that open platforms will, within the next five years, take 30 percent of the revenue currently flowing to proprietary incumbents such as broadcasters.
Reality. Broadcasters will either return to creating quality content and maximizing their revenues with non-advertising revenue or they will become indistinguishable and perhaps less entertaining than consumer content.
Risk. Budgets will shrink, advances will disappear, and the best broadcasters once offered will be gone. Bundling could make the auction markets less palatable much like uncontrolled rotates today.

There is little doubt that advertising will change dramatically in the next five years. And while many people consider it an evolution, some change has an equal opportunity to be a digression. What do you think? Did anybody read it? IBM Global Study.

What Others Think

• Follow the leader is a dangerous game, particularly when you follow Hippos… by Mark Allen Roberts

IBM Study: The end of advertising as we know it by DreamGrow Digital

Advertisers becoming more agressive, so what is the ideal relationship? at Zero Degrees

Thursday, October 1

Marketing Movies: Why They're Different


According to Adweek, a new study by Stradella Road reveals that 73 percent of moviegoers first gain awareness of a new movie release from television and 70 percent from in-theater trailers, beating out word-of-mouth (46 percent) and the Internet (44 percent) and leaving billboards and newspaper advertising way, way behind.

However, beyond the initial exposure of a new movie commercial, an overwhelming number of people across all age groups have fully adopted digital technologies and increasingly depend on them to gain information about new movie releases and help with their decisions about which films to see. As with most advertising campaigns, television is effective to generate awareness but the Internet becomes the battleground in the decision-making process.

Key Findings From Stradella Road

• 94 percent of all moviegoers are online, across all age groups
• 86 percent of all demographic segments go online via a computer or mobile device once a day
• Moviegoers spend more time online (19.8 hours) than they do watching television (14.3 hours)
• 73 percent have profiles on social networking sites, and 69 percent watch online video content
• 93 percent report that they use Internet search to find information about new movie releases

What We Learned Marketing Indies

Our own experience marketing independent films demonstrated much of the same. Television, including news and reviews, dominated generating awareness. However, it was a strong personalized social media program that proved critical in creating a desire to see a film in theaters and prime audiences to purchase the DVD.

Social media also helped mitigate negative reviews, especially in that film fans would defend the film and point people to more positive reviews for a balanced perspective. But even more importantly, the social media program helped capture interested moviegoers and direct them to balanced insider information written by the producers (as opposed to a single critic's viewpoint).

The end result was a more passionate fan base, one that not only referred people to see/purchase the film, but also take a personal stake in the movie as fans were invited to become as close to the film creators — producers, directors, writers, and cast — as possible. While the independent film had several hurdles to overcome via traditional publicity (40 interview requests, but no A-list cast available to accept them) and mass media (a remarkably low budget and relatively few markets), fans wanted the film to succeed.

What Can Product Advertisers Learn From The Movies?

The flow of information for products and services works relatively the same way. While diminishing, traditional marketing has an expansive reach that provides an excellent opportunity to generate awareness. However, immediately following that awareness, consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet for information that will help them make purchasing decisions.

However, there is a piece of the equation that differs for products and services. One of the reasons that the public responds well to television advertising for movies is that movies are considered an important message whereas most products and services are only important to those selling them.

So, the hurdle most advertising creatives need to overcome is how to make what is the least important message in someone's life (an advertisement) into communication that can change behavior. Or, as Kurt Vonnegut once said, "You say what you have to say. But you have to learn how to say it in a way that people can see what you mean." Or in advertising, sometimes they have to "feel" what you mean. If they don't, you can talk all day about yourself and never move anyone.
 

Blog Archive

Google+ Followers

by Rich Becker Copyright © 2010 Designed by Bie Blogger Template