Tag Archives: brand

Bad SEO may cause depression, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts

It is generally widely known that optimizing for search engines is an important aspect of managing a website. Getting on the coveted first page of Google for your target keywords is crucial to driving traffic and maintaining proper brand visibility.

Unfortunately, for many companies and organizations, paying attention to SEO is still only treated as an added bonus to simply having a website to point people to. It is true that SEO makes a good website great, but could NOT paying attention to it actually cause harm to your brand?

Rozerem learned the hard way.

Rozerem bad SEO example

This is a Google screenshot of the search result for Rozerem. Apparently, in addition to helping your insomnia, Rozerem may also cause “worsening of depression, including suicidal thoughts and completed suicides, hallucinations, and nightmares.”

Unfortunately, the company did not include a meta description in their HTML code, and when Google could not find it to display during search results, nor could it find any other sensible write-up thanks to its obsolete and previously un-indexable Flash site, it grabbed the only text it could find: the fine print at the bottom of the site.

Where this poor SEO example probably did give the folks over at Rozerem nightmares, it goes up on my list as one of the greatest things I could ever dream about.

One reason everyone should engage in social media: Brand management

Social Media Bandwagon and Brand Management

Still today, I find myself fighting the social media battle. Why should companies use it? Why is it relevant? What is in it for me? If you are a consumer-based organization, then yes, the benefits are generally apparent. But what if you are targeting a different audience? The advantages aren’t so clear.

Every organization is different. Because social media is a very consumer-focused media, many groups are skeptical and have difficulty in validating its use. In response to these concerns, I found that there is always at least one reason to engage in social media that applies to everyone: Brand management.

Facebook and Twitter are both social networks on which people spend a lot of time. A presence on these sites will increase the probability of people coming across your content. If they cannot find you on these networks, or if they find a page that is out-dated or abandoned, it reflects poorly on the parent organization. These days, people are expecting a certain level of information from these pages. If it is not received, credibility can be lost.

By entering social networks, companies would benefit from their high online visibility. Facebook is currently only 1 of 12 sites on the internet to have a Page Rank of 10. As opposed to “groups” on Facebook, “pages” are searchable. Creating a page on such a high-ranking site as Facebook would allow your content to become more visible.

At a Page Rank of 9, Twitter is also relevant. In recent news, major search engines Google and Bing announced a deal with Twitter allowing them to index tweets directly from the Twitter stream. This makes content created with Twitter much more searchable, and in the end, more valuable.

In a quick search for any topic or organization, it is very often that both Facebook and Twitter accounts show up as first page results. Since these pages have impressive Page Ranks and are highly indexable, they will be more likely to show up in searches for your company and your issues. Creating these pages and managing them, even if only on a minimal level, is crucial for any company’s online brand.

Say ‘hello’ to Glee’s new songs, cracking the top 100 downloads… again

Glee's Triumphant return in April with songs cracking Top 100 itunes downloads

In light of Glee‘s epic return to primetime television, I decided to revive one of my previous posts about the show’s outstanding marketing ploy in releasing songs for download on iTunes after each episode. During the first half of the season, as the show grew in fan base, I noticed that each of the songs performed cracked the Top 100 downloads within minutes of the show’s end. Now, after its 5-month break, is it possible for Glee to continue this impressive track record?

Rather than divulging into one of my lengthy-and-usually-alcohol-induced obsessive over-analysis on the unparalleled success of Glee (much of which you are free to read here), I will just give you the straight facts.

This week’s show’s numbers, only one hour after the episode ended:
#15 Like a Prayer (Madonna cover)
#62 4 Minutes (Madonna cover)
#69 Borderline / Open Your Heart (Madonna cover)
#92 Like a Virgin (Madonna cover)

And if you think this instant-reaction to download these songs is just a one-hit-wonder, take a look at the songs from last week’s show that are still holding strong in the Top 100, a full seven days later:
#35 Gives You Hell (All-American Rejects cover)
#50 Hello (Lionel Richie cover)
#63 Hello Goodbye (Beatles cover)
#84 Hello, I Love You (The Doors cover)

The ability to download songs on sites like iTunes has given the show the power to market its content it venues outside the television world and spread the word to potential new followers. I am gleeful to find that apparently the show hasn’t lost any of its luster during its 5-month hiatus.

=============UPDATE 4/21 9:30 A.M.=============

And why not give my mandatory update of where the songs lie 12 hours later? I rest my case.

#7 Like a Prayer (+7)
#29 Borderline / Open Your Heart (+40)
#32 Gives You Hell (+3)
#34 4 Minutes (+28)
#92 Like a Virgin (+54)
#40 Hello (+10)
#57 Hello Goodbye (+6)
#62 Espress Yourself (new)
#67 Hello, I Love You (+17)
#83 What it feels like for a girl (new)
#95 Vogue (new)

The Future of Foursquare and Brand, Business Partnerships

FoursquareAt first glance, Foursquare can be misconstrued as nothing but a simple social media network built for entertainment purposes. The one-line description usually classifies the product as a “game where you check-in at locations and earn badges.” More sophisticated ones explain how users can receive advice on where to eat, what to order, where to find what you’re looking for.

Though these statements are all true, they represent only a fraction of Foursquare’s current capabilities – and its potential for permanently changing the online/offline corporate advertising relationships.

Brand and Business Partnerships

On February 1st, 2010, the trendy network television brand Bravo! TV announced a partnership with Foursquare, the location-based social networking sensation. This alliance would enable Foursquare to highlight locations, or “check-in points,” relevant to Bravo Television shows and stars.

Though this wasn’t the first time Foursquare has worked with a business or brand, it is its first true media collaboration. This endeavors, and the partnerships it has since then put into motion (Zagat, Warner Bros., and HBO), makes this a significant milestone in the expansion of the Foursquare program into mainstream everyday life.

Though these are the only true partnerships Foursquare has produced thus far, they began a system called “Foursquare for Businesses,” launched in September 2009. This enables businesses to list specials for Foursquare users (such as 2 for 1 coffee on your first check-in, free drink for the venue Mayor, free desert for every 10th check-in). Not only do these deals appear when users check-in to the venue in questions, but they also appear when a user checks-in to any venue nearby. This model is an ingenious way to build reliable clientele, and to create new ones. It is also a free service offered by Foursquare (at least for now.)

Foursquare for businesses

Where Twitter is Failing, Foursquare is…

Foursquare has been projected by many social media industry leaders to be the Twitter of 2010. The two internet start-up companies have a similar user-base and measured growth. With their ability for effortless and instant updates, both are extremely pertinent to today’s digital and mobile lifestyle. Just this month, Foursquare reached the 300,000 users benchmark, jumping from the Innovators phase to the Early-adopters.

Where Twitter has yet to flourish is its ability to create revenue (or dare I say, inability to even conceptualize the means of doing so.) This is what sets Foursquare apart. Though their current “Foursquare for Businesses” does not charge companies to list their business or specials, this model holds the ability to seamlessly migrate over to a charging system without causing uproar as Twitter has potential to do.

In their current free listing system, Foursquare is able to build their database of businesses, making the social networking site more relevant to consumers. These businesses will also advertise Foursquare deals on their own, to encourage repeat clientele. Through this circular relationship, Foursquare will also be able to collect pertinent data on their listed businesses and the success of their specials. Unlike Twitter, which has struggled to offer measurable results to justify their ability to charge for accounts, Foursquare can compile data proving success as they continue to grow and explore means of turning a profit.

From “Pay Per Click” to “Pay Per Check-in”

These partnerships with local businesses have the potential to grow to a “Pay Per Check-in” model. Many businesses already use Google AdWords, allowing them to only pay for advertising that yield them coverage. This “Pay Per Click” model allows targeted advertising on small budgets. Foursquare can pioneer a “Pay Per Check-in” model, offering premium accounts to businesses and charging a nominal fee per check-in, or per special awarded. Would a business mind paying a few cents to drive clientele on a more regular basis? I don’t think so, and I think on a broad scale, this could be a lucrative element to Foursquare – and a valuable asset to businesses’ digital brands.

Get off the Cluetrain and into my Zipcar: Social media success in the car-sharing business

I came across an excellent blog posting by Lora Kratchounova, aka “Scratch” – an industry marketing and media guru – addressing Zipcar’s unparalleled marketing success.

Over the past 9 years, Zipcar has built more than just a revolutionary product – they built a brand. Through their intriguing marketing and media messaging, Zipcar planted in consumers the illusion of exclusivity and luxury. Potential consumers ponder the wishful idea that if they’re lucky enough, maybe just one day, they too can become a Zipcar member.

Scratch’s post outlines 8 things she loves about Zipcar – all with which I whole-heartedly agree. But there are two more points that she missed, both of which I think are crucial to the success of their overall brand. Coincidentally, both of these points are major elements of the Cluetrain Manifesto: the use of the ‘human voice’ and the idea that ‘markets are conversations’.

Across their entire brand and marketing campaign, Zipcar speaks to their consumers with a human voice, and not that of a corporation. As I pointed out in an earlier posting on the Cluetrain Manifesto, traditional companies’ voices are dry, homogenized, and contrived; they do not sound like the real people in their market.

Successful ones, such as Zipcar, understand human mannerisms to be able to interact with their market. A true example of this is the way they treat their cars like people.

Their vehicles are all given a name, such as Babycakes, Bitsy, Belvedere, Boy wonder, even Boogaloo. Zipcar’s online database also contains short descriptions of the vehicles – each one of them resembling more an online dating profile than typical rent-a-car websites. They even recently announced a Zipcar “sleepover” program; this slumber party allowing you to keep a Zipcar overnight at a discounted rate.Zipcar Profiles

The cars become your companions, your teammates, and not just a tool to achieve your goal. In the end, this personification of vehicles and casual language makes users feel more connected to the company as a whole.

Second, Zipcar uses every instance of delivering corporate messages as an opportunity for a conversation with their market.

While many companies attempt – and fail – at successfully involving their markets in conversation, Zipcar thrives (or should I say drives.) This affirmation is evident by their extremely active Facebook page.

Zipcar has a following on Facebook of over 27 thousand fans. Though many pages can boast that many members, few have achieved the same level of interaction.

Every Zipcar post on Facebook earns tens, hundreds, something thousands of feedback messages.

Zipcar regularly asks its members to name their vehicles. In a request for naming on September 10th, members responded overwhelmingly with 1,641 comments and 20 “likes.”

Zipcar also converses with their members on a level beyond the product itself. They encourage ‘Zipsters’ to send in stories and pictures of things they’ve done during their Zipcar reservations. On December 4th, they posted a picture of a baby who was born after being driven to the hospital in a Zipcar. On September 25th, two guys from MIT drove their Zipcar to a launch site where they floated a balloon with a camera attached into the sky, and submitted a picture of what they found. On November 6th, Tyler and Jane hopped in a Zipcar after their wedding and drove off into the sunset.

Zipcar Weekend Fun

They have also asked their members to submit designs for their Christmas e-card, or a picture of their Halloween “pumpkin art” carving that captures what they love about Zipcar.

Why is Zipcar so successful in employing these two elements into their marketing scheme? Because they use them together. The ‘human voice’ plays off the belief that ‘markets are conversations.’

Companies can easily write a witty passage, but if no one is there to respond, what is the use? And why converse with your audience when you aren’t speaking the same language?

Zipcar has found a way to seamlessly incorporate both of these elements into their marketing plan, and it is their use in tangent that makes them relevant to us, the consumer. Or in their case, the too-cool-for-school “Zipsters.”

If you weren’t believin’ before, you are now: Tonight’s ‘Glee’ songs already hitting Top 100

On October 29th, Columbia Records reported that the Glee Cast’s rendition of Journey’s beloved “Don’t Stop Believin’” went Gold in digital sales with an excess of 500,000 downloads. This rounds off the show’s total number of digital song purchases to over two million.

Tonight’s show (November 15th) featured “Defying Gravity” from the Broadway hit Wicked, and CCR’s classic “Proud Mary.”

As part of FOX’s genius marketing ploy, songs from each episode are released on iTunes for download as they appear on the show. Tonight, in one of my weakest moments, I gave in and purchased “Defying Gravity.”

After playing the song through a few times, I thought to myself – how many other people did exactly what I did? How many other Americans are also hopelessly brainwashed by the show’s catchy-teen-musical combination that they, too, in a zombie-like fashion, searched “Glee Cast’ in iTunes and clicked “purchase” to the two newest songs?

Around 1 A.M., I found the list of top 100 iTunes downloads, updated daily. Sure enough, within 3 hours of tonight’s Glee episode, the November 12th chart featured Glee’s “Defying Gravity” at #66 and “Proud Mary” at #81. Both songs are the only Glee songs currently featured on the Top 100.

Top 100 iTunes Downloads

How long had these songs been on the chart? Since there are no archives on the site, I looked up a Google cached version of that exact webpage. The most recent snapshot I found was taken on November 11th at 9:33 GMT, which comes out to 4:33 A.M. EST.

Google Cached version of the Top 100

I looked through the list, and I did not see the two songs in question. In fact, I did not even see one Glee song. Just to be sure of this, I used my trusty ⌘F key to “Find” the term Glee in the browser window, and still nothing came up. That’s pretty ⌘F-ing crazy.

Within just a few hours, two previously unknown songs had risen to the Top 100 downloaded list just because they appeared in a TV show.

According to the Boston Herald, the week of October 6th saw ten Glee songs crack the Top 200 download list, with “Somebody to Love” cracking the Top 10 – sitting up there with mainstream favorites Jay-Z, Mylie, and Black Eyed Peas.

All of these songs are not successful because of the phenomenal talent and energy of their performers alone. They are successful because they allow viewers to connect with the visual and emotional sensations they feel when watching the show.

A heart-felt rendition of “Keep Holding On” was sung at the end of an episode where Quinn, head cheerleader, was kicked off the squad because of an unplanned pregnancy. The performance of “No Air” exploded with chemistry between the lead male and female who are destined to cross high school clique boundaries.

This unique model allows the show’s story to continue beyond your flat screen TV. Glee is no longer just a one-hour-a-week commitment. It’s a full experience, a cult, a lifestyle.

=============UPDATE 11/12 10:39 A.M.=============

At 10:39 A.M., the Glee Cast’s version of “Defying Gravity” jumped to #41 and “Proud Mary” to #53. This is getting out of control.

=============UPDATE 11/13 1:36 P.M.=============

I am going to blow your mind with this interesting twist. Let me first start off by saying “Defying Gravity (Glee Cast Version)” is currently at #16 and “Proud Mary” quietly skipped to #39. That, in itself, is worth the blog update. However, I discovered even more noteworthy movement in the charts that merits addressing. Glee now has an additional three songs in the Top 100 daily downloads.

Last Wednesday, character Artie, a paraplegic in a wheelchair, sang a cover of “Dancing with Myself.” I originally did not mention this song as one of the ones featured in last episode because it was not a “Glee Club” song, sung on screen by the entire cast. Apparently, that did not stop the rest of America from paying attention to it. Originally a Billy Idol favorite, this Glee Cast rendition finally cracked the Top 100, coming in at #73.

In an even more mind-boggling event, the last two songs to hit the chart were two different versions of the episode’s headlining song, “Defying Gravity.” Accompanying the original Glee Cast Version at #16 are Rachel/Lea Michele‘s Solo Version at #35 (jumping from yesterday’s #75 ranking which I completely missed) and Kurt/Chris Colfer‘s Solo Version at #88.

I can’t imagine every single one of those three versions were downloaded by different people. That means with just one song, Fox’s genius marketing machine managed to potentially generate up to three times the revenue. No one in their right mind would typically download a song three times. However, as I explained earlier in the posting, these songs are more than just musical bliss. They are the emotional connectors between the viewers and the television show.

The song “Defying Gravity” was sung as part of a “diva-off” between the usual female lead, Rachel, and Kurt, the gay male who also wanted to be considered for the lead role, even though it is typically given to a female. Each character was asked to sing the song and the winner was voted on by the rest of the Glee club.

Downloading one or more of these versions means more than just defining which song displays the most musical prowess. Viewers can continue the show’s popularity debate over one character or another, or in their own way cast their vote as to who they think sang the song best. They could also sympathize with the ideal that everyone should have an equal opportunity, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or handicap.

It could be any or all of these elements. The point is these songs instill something different in everyone, and it’s those personal reasons that make them want to download a particular song – or in this case – maybe all three.

Social Media Success: Blogging by Bravo Television

Mashable recently posted an article by Samir Balwani about 10 of the smartest uses of social media for big brands. In this list were some well-known names and campaigns. In that article, we examine Comcast who offers a reliable source for customer service through Twitter. IPhone owners cringed at BlendTec’s YouTube viral video of their company’s CEO demolishing the coveted iPhone in a blender. And who could forget Burger King’s infamous “Sacrifice” application which prompted Facebook users to trade in 10 virtual friendships for one delectable whopper. Yum.

Balwani certainly highlighted some tasty endeavors in the social media world, but there is one brand’s social media uses in which I am constantly in awe: Bravo Television. In recent years, this media company has incorporated more and more viewer interaction into every show they produce, both on television and online. But what has made them such an intangible force in the social media world?

The real secret behind their success is their extensive collection of various cast members’ blogs. This unparalleled anthology of written work by over 50 current and former Bravo stars has created a database of information for both Bravo fanatics and non-viewers who are seeking information about a certain topic.

The Bravo blogs give the media company an opportunity to increase their own brand’s visibility. For instance, Kenley Collins of Project Runway’s Season 5 critiqued weekly runway challenges on fellow Bravo television series The Fashion Show. NYC Real Housewife and natural food chef Bethenny Frankel provided commentary on the dishes from Top Chef Season 4. Ally Zarin, daughter of Real Housewife Jill Zarin, gave her take on the NYC Prep season ending high school dinner party.

Writing these blogs from the perspective of Bravo stars about other Bravo stars expands the reach of each television show. It creates a spider web effect that swallows up one audience into another, developing a new audience of viewers who are now knowledgeable about more than one show.

This collection of blogs also positions Bravo as an expert in numerous aspects of pop culture. It gives them a foundation off which to build their brand and increase their online following.

In his blog, Brian Malarky of Top Chef Season 3 talks about balancing tasty food and healthy eating. Trace, Jeff’s design intern on Flipping Out, gives his take on the latest fashion disasters in the industry. On a more personal level, Tamra Barney of The Real Housewives of OC offers her first-hand advice on parenting and teen pregnancy.

With their blogs, Bravo has created a unique environment where viewers can stay up to speed on what’s going on in their favorite TV series, as well as gain valuable knowledge of pop culture trends from reliable, familiar sources.

This brilliant, one-of-a-kind business model to promote their brand, their shows, and their characters all at once leaves me with just one word in response… bravo.