Tag Archives: social media

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.

Bravo, NBC, Washington Post make Twitter accessible to all with aggregators

Even with all of the positive Twitter hype over the past few years, the social networking site still harbors a bad rap among non-users. People ask themselves time and time again the same questions: Why do people care if I just went for a run? Why should I announce to the world I had pasta for dinner? Why should I tell all my followers what I did every waking second of every day? Although this is not the sole focus of Twitter, that is what many non-believers point to when supporting their negatively charged arguments. It is sometimes very difficult for them to justify being apart of the Twitter community.

As much as I can personally advocate the merits of Twitter, some people will just never listen. However, when reputable businesses start using Twitter to produce and manage their own content, people start to pay attention. Twitter then becomes less of a nuisance and more of a necessary tool, even for those who don’t already use it. Yes, everyone now has a Twitter feed where they re-post content from their website, but what about repositioning other users’ content in order to tell your own story? Many highly regarded groups have begun building their own tailored Twitter aggregators, and through their usability and necessity, successfully diminished negative connotations Twitter has created.

Bravo Television’s Real Housewives of New York City Viewing Party

Bravo has always been a pioneer in terms of merging television with the interactive online world (insert shameless plug for a past post of mine on Bravo’s blogs). Adding to their most recent partnership with foursquare, Bravo built their own Twitter aggregator to host “Real Housewives of New York City” virtual viewing parties. Every week, Bravo encourages viewers to join a live online chat on Bravo.com where they can connect with the shows’ stars and fans alike to talk about what is happening on the show in real-time. Through Twitter and Facebook, users can post their own thoughts about the show, and have them appear on the virtual party page. The aggregator allows you to filter through the posts based on “Bravolebrities” only, Twitter only, Facebook only, or all posts simultaneously.

This Twitter aggregator furthers diminishes the gap between the real world and the online world. It allows viewers to gather in one location and celebrate the show, no matter where they are actually located.

The viewing party also allows people to be apart of a Twitter world without actually signing up for an account. If you want to submit a comment, yes you will still need to do so via Twitter or Facebook. However, if you just want to be a fly on the wall at the hippest online party around, the aggregator allows you to read through everyone’s conversations without joining (what some still consider) the taboo Twitter network.

Bravo TV Real Housewives of New York City Viewing Party - Twitter Aggregator

NBC’s Olympic Pulse Tweet Sheet

Bravo is not the only company around to utilize Twitter in this manner. Back in February, NBC provided a comprehensive coverage of the Winter Olympics. In addition to countless hours of television footage on 7 different networks, this exposure included in depth social media endeavors, notably online video cast, an intuitive iPhone app, featured blogs, and of course, a Twitter aggregator.

This Twitter aggregator allowed the user to sort tweets based on specific athlete/consultant, by sport, by NBC Olympic tweets, or by seeing tweets from all categories at once. Similar to the Bravo viewing party aggregator, this device allowed all web users to follow people on Twitter without actually creating a Twitter account. This raised the accessibility of Twitter, demonstrating its usefulness in seamlessly compiling information from topic-relevant people and sorting them in a user-friendly manner.

NBC Olympics Twitter Aggregator

WashingtonPost.com’s NFL Twitter Aggregator

Though this aggregator was built a few months ago, it still remains active and relevant today, and was the first I had ever seen of its kind. At the beginning of last NFL season, the Washington Post wanted to create one location where users could read tweets from NFL players, and naturally with all the hype around some NFL players’ posts, they created an aggregator.

As the two previous case studies demonstrated, this aggregator allowed site visitors to follow players on Twitter without having to themselves sign up for an account.  It also allowed them to filter based on their favorite team or position, and displayed the athletes’ real names, instead of their Twitter handles.

The Washington Post also designed two other Twitter aggregators: one to follow latest updates on the Ft. Hood shooting, and one to follow the last Virginia election.

Washington Post's NFL Twitter Aggregator

I agree with many of people’s woes on inappropriate use of Twitter, and I too get annoyed with constant monotonous updates. But Twitter has become so much more than that, and this new fad of building aggregators demonstrates this. More and more, companies and organizations are finding their best practices in how to run their own Twitter accounts. However, from what we have seen, the next steps will be to see how well we utilize other people’s content within Twitter – and monetize it.

I want one

In light of my recent obsession with foursquare, I was extremely excited about the prospect of purchasing this t-shirt.

Social media is taking over the world…

and Texts From Last Night

My Buzz With Google

Google Buzz and Google Wave

Google has recently put out some new products in their tech family, two notable ones being Wave and Buzz. I will admit I was the first one to sell myself out for a Wave invite, and though I was never excited about Buzz, I did link to it every social media account I managed.

I think these products have good potential, but they are missing one key element which will mark any product’s success: mobile technology. It’s great that Wave can be a home-base for a coherent conversation between a dozen people, but how do these participants know when changes have been made so they can approve? There is no email or push notification alerting of this. And for people who are on-the-go, how do they use Wave in a mobile savvy environment?

The same goes for Buzz. Luckily, many professionals these days use Gmail to read their email. This makes the Buzz product more relevant. But what happens when you’re not at your computer, which is, umm, a lot? Why would someone log onto a Web browser to update a Buzz status when Twitter has made it so easy to text in a status update? When Facebook has developed an app for every smartphone platform? When even YouTube has capabilities of uploading videos on the fly? When foursquare is quickly climbing the location-based update ladder? When most smartphones already have a Google Talk application that will allow them to keep up a status without actively being online?

Google, which at one time lead the Silicone Valley innovation, seems to be getting lazy. Buying-out a company and slapping an ad on it? The model is dying.

If you’re going to pioneer anything these days, it needs to be mobile friendly. Either Google will need to figure out how to integrate these new products into our mobile-obsessed world, or they will fail.

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.

World of Whatcraft? How gaming has changed – and not changed

Old School vs New School Gaming Advertising

Deja-vu in gaming advertising? Somethings don't change...

I am not a huge gamer. My experience with online gaming is limited to my Rock Band landing 689th place playing a rendition of The Knack’s “My Sharona,” which put us in the top 1% of the overall Xbox community. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t proud.

Because of this lack of knowledge, my social media class on gaming was a huge eye opening experience. I enjoyed watching my professor Mike run around the virtual world of World of Warcraft (suddenly that ‘Call of Duty’ episode from the office made a lot more sense.) I could not believe there was that many people inside that virtual world at the same time.

The idea of interactive computer games has been around for a while, and although the idea that you are interacting with real people – in real-time – in a virtual world is rather mind-boggling to me, it’s not something I would write home about.

What I do think is fascinating is the idea of using these games to make money, advertise, and promote real-life products.

Inside Second Life, Starwood Hotels established the aloft Hotel, which opened up online months before the real hotel even opened its doors. This fall, Massive‘s video game advertising network added many multi-player games, including World of Warcraft, major EA sports, and Guitar Hero.  Even back in October 2008, a Barack Obama billboard appeared in Burnout Paradise, making him the first Presidential candidate to purchase in-game advertising.

Beyond the video game world, I’ve noticed companies trying to get involved with online games within social networks. The game that stands out to me the most is that of Farmville, the online farming game that allows you to plant, grow, and manage crops. Last October, the game’s maker Zynga advertised a “Sweet Seeds for Haiti” program, allowing players to purchase limited edition sweet potato seeds that never wither and last one week. Half of the proceeds benefit charity. They recently also added in-game pop-ups advertising their other games.

Unofficially, I can also testify that the company BioTech approached Farmville with the idea of having Farmville showcase a special “BioTech seed,” which would grow faster/last longer etc. Farmville responded with a quote of $200,000 for a 2 week promotion. That is ridiculous!

Though this process nevertheless fascinates me, I’ve found it is hardly ground-breaking. In looking back through the years, you can see that these advertisements are nothing new: FIFA_International_Soccer

Above, an Adidas billboard is displayed in the foreground of the 1994 computer game FIFA International Soccer.

Cupa Chups in Zool

Also displayed is a screenshot of the “Sweet World” in Zool for the Amiga system (1992), in which the iconic striped Chupa Chups products can be seen in the background.

As you can see by these screenshots, and even the playful t-shirts above, advertising in games is not a new concept, but it’s one that has certainly evolved over time.

(Something tells me little ol’ Chupa Chups was not submitted to a $200,000 sponsorship fee.)

Social media + technology = a recipe for disasterous customer service stories

A post, about a post, about a post.

A classmate of mine, Emily, wrote a response to my venting on my blog about my Airtran dismays. She even found a YouTube video of a guy citing his story of canceled flights and bad customer service – also from Airtran.

She made an excellent point about how social media has become a conduit for “venting” about problems, and how some companies have finally caught on and embraced this.

Recently I had an experience with Comcast’s social media customer service. I wrote a status update in Facebook about how I was confused that Comcast would lower my monthly bill if I added a phone line. This wasn’t a complaint, just a perplexed statement. I didn’t think too much of it until I received a Facebook message from a Comcast customer service representative:

Comcast Customer Service

My original statement was not a complaint, and I didn’t need to respond (at least about this issue), but I thought this move was so ingenious.

I have a friend who had issues with Comcast billing for the longest time and was unable to get any answers. He posted his stories on a blog dedicated to people who hated Comcast. Not too long after, he received an email from Comcast offering to help.

Comcast, notorious for poor customer service, finally started monitoring exactly where people vent about them the most: social networking sites.

I think it is also interesting to expand from her initial thesis of social media being a forum for venting, and look at how new technology combined with these social media tools has facilitated this process.

As I noted in my original post, I wrote that entry on my iPhone through the WordPress app. I was even able to take a photo on my phone, and include that in my post. All this while sitting at an airport bar (because of course, Airtran had delayed my flight.)

In the video she found, it looked like the man was shooting this clip while sitting at a gate of his cancelled flight. It is possible he even uploaded the video immediately, too.

Had either of us waited until we sat down in front of a computer, found internet, and recreated our rants, they may not have been so strong or so concise. Perhaps we may have even forgotten about it once we got to our destination.

While social media has allowed us to share thoughts more easily, technology now allows us to do so instantaneously, which turns out to be a very powerful thing.