July 20, 2012

How to be an Infovore

Filed under: Current Events,Presentation — Emily Reeves @ 8:17 am

This morning, I gave a quick presentation to our interns about how to keep up with all the news and information in our industry on a daily basis. You can check it out here:

May 17, 2012

Creating an Online Brand When Job Searching

Filed under: Culture,Current Events,Digital Strategy,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 8:20 pm

Today, I talked to Today’s THV about recent college grads looking for jobs in a tough market when everything you can do to stand out makes a difference.

It is time for college grads to start their job searches and the competition is stiff for the number of jobs compared to the number of candidates. Standing out among the competition is more important than ever. And an online brand can make all the difference in getting the call for an interview.

When it comes to an online brand for these candidates, there is a seeming indifference. They are restricting their professional lives and online representation to LinkedIn, then write and post about anything and everything but their career of choice. The bottom line: your are getting Googled before you get called for an interview. And searched on Facebook and Twitter. And the potential employer is definitely looking you up on LinkedIn. Do you know what they will find when they perform these searches? What do you want them to find? It is time to think about yourself through the lens of an potential employer. This isn’t just about removing embarrassing moments, but also about showing that you are curious and intelligent. Think about who you are and what job you want; this is your personal “brand.”

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Build online profiles in places and with content relevant to your personal brand. Determine where to do this and what to talk about based on the searches you do related to your industry, your specific career interests and your location. Look up the people that you admire in your industry and those that you would likely be interviewing with: what are they doing that you can emulate?
  • Google yourself. What do you find? What would you like an employer to find? Google your likely competition for the job. What are they doing that you can learn from?
  • Get your LinkedIn profile fully completed. Too many LinkedIn profiles have only a name and the school from which they graduated. Fill in all the fields. Tell your personal, professional and educational story. Think about it like telling a story.
  • Create a “professional” blog around your interests in the industry in which you want to work. While a personal blog is great and can help potential employers get to know you, if you are writing about the industry relevant to your degree and the job you are seeking, they can see that you are really interested in the work and know what you are talking about. Use Google Alerts, Twitter searches and blog subscriptions (RSS feeds, Google Reader) to stay on top of your industry, then write about it. Create original content; writing about your own discoveries shows that you’re processing the information you are reading.
  • Create a public Twitter profile for sharing industry and professional news. If you have a personal Twitter profile that you don’t want potential employers to see, go ahead and protect that and keep using it as you have before, but make sure you have all the privacy settings adjusted. Respond to thought leaders in your industry via Twitter. Show that you have an opinion and a backbone.
  • Adjust your privacy settings in Facebook so that only friends can see your content. Be wary of friending potential employers, employers and co-workers. Consider the content that you post to Facebook and what you want them to see. Facebook has sophisticated privacy options: if you are not comfortable not friending someone, consider categorizing them to only see certain content. If there are pictures that others have posted of you that are not flattering, consider un-tagging yourself (once you have untagged yourself from a picture, you can not be retagged).
  • Consider creating a website for your resume where you provide links to all of your online presences, making it very easy for an employer to see all that you are and all that you are doing. How can you be creative in the way you display your resume? Think about using video as a way to personalize the resume.

Keep in mind that the differences between a personal brand and professional brand online are blurring. You can have separate profiles, but it is hard to maintain and mistakes can be made. And Google can find almost anything. It is better to assume that everything you put online will be seen by a potential employer or employer and be mindful of what you put out there.

Good luck!

May 16, 2012

Social Media, Advertising and Awareness

Filed under: Current Events,Digital Strategy,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 6:47 am

This Fast Company article reveals that advertising people aren’t normal when it comes to brand and advertising awareness in social networks. I was reading this article while watching “Morning Joe” this morning where they were talking about Facebook being overvalued because no one clicks on the ads (meaning they don’t click on the ads, of course).

I don’t know the future of Facebook, or the future of social networks in general, but both these channels this morning aren’t talking about the other half of the story.

On advertising people being more aware of advertising: duh. It is not because they are the ones running the ads or because they are more susceptible to advertising. It is because they are paying attending and learning. Advertising people know that an audience of 800 million people is not to be ignored or avoided. They are studying how brands are using Facebook, both for content and for advertising to learn what works, what doesn’t and how to improve the communications for the brands they represent. This only means that the advertising and the content shared by these brands is going to get better, and better content and advertising gets clicked, shared and incites interaction.

On no one clicking on Facebook ads: if advertising is not getting clicked, it is because the message is wrong for the audience who is seeing it or the advertising is bad or confusing. If we put the right message, delivered in an engaging way, in front of the relevant audience, it works. Additionally, Facebook is continually changing how brands can deliver content and advertising; ads will be moving out of the sidebar and into the news stream as sponsored content. This is dangerous if advertisers continue to deliver bad and irrelevant content because users may be frustrated and leave. It is the brand’s responsibility to make its messages engaging to the audience it is targeting and to target the right audience.

While the future of Facebook is not guaranteed, it is not fair to say that the advertising is not working and ad people are the only ones aware of the advertising. Facebook is still relatively new, and with the rules constantly changing, we are all just trying to learn and keep up with what is working, what will work and how to not ignore a captive audience of 800 million people.

April 12, 2012

Why do we care that Facebook bought Instagram?

Filed under: Current Events,Social Media,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 8:26 pm

Everyone is talking about Facebook buying Instagram this week, and not just the tech geeks. Why are people talking about, even those seemingly not of the geek mindset? Because everyone uses these two services. Well, maybe not everyone, but a lot of people: Instagram has 30 million users and Facebook is creeping up on on 900 million users. The real question is: why do people care that Facebook purchased Instagram (for a whopping $1 billion!)?

First, let’s talk about why Facebook (probably) purchased Instagram:

    “Photos for Facebook are already a huge driver of both interactions and data. But while users often upload photos to Facebook, they actually take them with Instagram. The amount of data generated from a mobile device’s camera is significant, from location to time of day to any number of data points that can be associated with a smartphone’s sensors…

    “Instagram itself was not in a position to capitalize off of its data. It did not have ads and it provided its API for free (with the right to charge the heaviest users if it deemed it appropriate). Implementing ads would be a recipe for disaster for Instagram and its fickle, emotional user base. But what if Facebook can take that data and provide ads against it without actually putting advertising into the app itself?

    “Here is the trick: Facebook has the ability to grow Instagram’s user base by tens if not hundreds of millions of users. The more people use the app, the more of that rich metadata Facebook generates. Facebook can then turn around and serve ads against that data on both the Facebook desktop and mobile clients. It is a matter of linking the back-end infrastructures of the two companies without overtly changing the Instagram user interface.”

      “In a general sense, this acquisition on the heels of the dramatic growth of Pinterest in the last few months is a massive reflection of just how fast the Social-Stream is becoming visual in nature, meaning evolving social engagement driven purely around visual media, not text – and just how valuable that will inevitably be to every major participant in the social media landscape,” Downing said. “This is a huge endorsement of the shift to the visual web and visual conversation in a social media framework.” {source}

      And, Instagram really makes our photos better, especially those of us that aren’t great photographers. “In the end it really is the actual image under the electronic processing that counts. Most of the time the filters are covering the shortcomings of the original photograph and the person behind it.”

      Then, there is the fact that Facebook really wants to be your main site for photo-sharing. As Instagram continued to grow, Facebook probably saw the writing on the wall for competition. “Facebook is making sure all those images don’t end up on Flickr or in some other storage cloud.”

      • Leverage mobile growth. Instagram is a mobile-only app. Facebook’s mobile app has always been less than stellar. Maybe Facebook is hoping to learn from Instagram.

      “Instagram was beating Facebook at its own game, and the social network needed to stop it before it was able to do more.

      “The photo-sharing app is essentially everything Facebook wants to be on your mobile phone. Facebook wants people using its mobile app to share photos of what they’re doing with friends and to share their location -– something Instagram users have no problem doing.”

      “Smartphones are everywhere now, allowing apps like Foursquare and Path to be self-contained social worlds, existing almost entirely on mobile devices. It is a major change from just a few years ago, underscoring how the momentum in the tech world is shifting to mobile from computers.

      “Cellphones are also prompting a shift in how people want to share things online, creating a market for apps that make instant sharing easy, said S. Shyam Sundar, a director of the Media Effects Research Lab at Pennsylvania State University.

      “In other words, many people want to post a photograph of themselves right from a sun-drenched beach in Bali, rather than waiting until they are back home to upload all 50 pictures onto Facebook.” {source}

      Now, let’s talk about why some users are so upset about the purchase:

      • Instagram was relatively private; Facebook is known for constantly-changing privacy rules.

      “The app was limited to smartphone users, and there was no built-in way to copy or repost pictures — lent it a sense of privacy and intimacy, separate from the rest of our online lives. Its ability to let its users delicately toe the line between public and private gave us a little breathing room from the all-pervasiveness of Facebook, and to see it whisked away feels like a tangible loss.

      “The sale of Instagram brings a harsh reality into focus, the realization that the secret rooms or private spaces online where we can share, chit-chat and hang out with our friends are fading.” {source}

      “Part of the concern is that it’s Facebook,” says Chris Conley, an attorney at the ACLU of Northern California. “And their history of privacy and respecting user choices is mixed.”

      “That mixed history includes Facebook’s repeated changes to the default settings of user accounts to make more user data public over time — a practice that has vexed advocacy groups, drawn charges of being overly confusing, and culminated in a settlement last fall with the Federal Trade Commission. Meanwhile, Facebook’s user count has continued to grow, and now surpasses 845 million.

      “Instagram users thought they were signing up for a simple service, of relatively little utility to advertisers or government. Now that data is likely to be combined with an entire social graph. I picture the consumer happily paddling down a data rivulet only to find themselves suddenly on the open waters of the social sea.” {source}

      • The potential for limited sharing. Instagram has always encouraged sharing across a range of networks, with Twitter listed first. Users are worried that Facebook would limit that sharing to only Facebook.

      “As regular Instagrammers know, one of the first choices you have to make in sharing your photo — after you’ve applied tilt shift and filters — is which social network you’re going to share it with.

      “The two big sharing choices? Twitter and Facebook. No prizes for guessing which of those options may disappear, should Facebook get its way.

      “Of course, Facebook has gone out of its way to assure users that sort of thing won’t happen. ‘We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks,’ wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his blog post announcing the acquisition.” {source}

      • Instragram will be ruined by advertising. (Well, come on now, it was bound to happen!)

      July 7, 2011

      We are hiring!

      Filed under: Account Management Training,Current Events,Marketing — Emily Reeves @ 9:56 am

      It probably goes without saying, but I love my job at Stone Ward. I must if I have been here for over 10 years, right? It is a great place to work, the culture is like family and creative work is what we do best. Who wouldn’t want to work here? Well, now is your opportunity. We are looking to hire an experienced account manager.  If you are interested, please contact me at ereeves@stoneward.com.  Here are the position details:

      Stone Ward is seeking an Account Manager with 5+ years agency experience. Experience should include a demonstrated ability to think strategically about the client’s business and a demonstrated ability to direct and recognize results-oriented marketing communications that are on brand strategy.

      The Account Manager will be required to provide business and marketing counsel to clients at an executive management level and oversee an associate account executive in the daily execution of client projects. The Account Manager will also oversee the client profitability and will be responsible for managing the client budget and agency revenue.  The Account Manager will report to the Director of Account Management.

      Job responsibilities will include:

      • Serving as an agency leader across all disciplines to lead an integrative approach to all client marketing communications.
      • Acting as a leader for agency teams, creating a culture of team-level responsibility for achieving agency and client goals.
      • Developing strong relationships throughout the client organization, particularly at executive management level, maintaining thorough understanding of client satisfaction and ensuring client retention.
      • Maintaining a thorough understanding of client’s business, category, competitive landscape and customer base to ensure agency is proactive in delivering strategic marketing direction.
      • Recognizing and contribute to creative account planning that is excellent, results-oriented and strategic.
      • Providing strategic consultation about client’s business and marketing initiatives on a regular basis.
      • Supervising clients budgets and billing, as well as agency profitability by client.
      • Continuously seeking out education and information on communications tools, techniques and trends to apply to client’s communications initiatives.

      Desired traits in an Account Manager include (in no particular order):

      • Flexible
      • Proactive
      • Organized
      • Innovative
      • Cheerleader
      • Collaborative
      • Numbers nerd
      • Detail-oriented
      • Not reactionary
      • Strong work ethic
      • No shrinking violets
      • Calm under pressure
      • Know when to say “no”
      • Ability deal with multiple personality styles
      • Willingness to learn new things
      • Willingness to take hit for team
      • Good written communications skills
      • Good verbal communications skills
      • Producer-type personality
      • Ability to defend creative
      • Good time management
      • Good creative instincts
      • Ability for forethought
      • Good negotiator
      • Problem-solver
      • Thought leader
      • People person
      • Open-minded
      • Good listener
      • Team player
      • Multi-tasker
      • Technophile
      • Self-starter
      • Passionate
      • Confident
      • Realistic
      • Creative
      • Diligent
      • Patient
      • Leader
      • Coach
      • Agent
      • Calm
      • Fair

      About the Account Management department at Stone Ward:

      The Account Management function at Stone Ward serves an extension of the client’s marketing department, with a specialization in creative communications and customer experience interactions. We are a partner in the client’s strategic communications planning, execution, budgeting and measurement.

      July 3, 2011

      Zynga IPO

      Filed under: Current Events,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 3:29 pm

      Last week, Roby Brock and I talked about the trend for social media companies to enter IPOs, and Zynga came up in our conversation as one on the horizon for entering that realm. Well, it happened a couple of days ago.  Zynga’s user-base and proven profitability have made it desirable:

      • 232 million monthly active users
      • $597 million in revenue in 2010

      Mashable provides a list of 11 other interesting stats about Zynga’s success.

      Zynga is the company behind social games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars and is highly dependent of Facebook for its players.  ”The company admits that basically all of its revenue comes from its partnership with Facebook: ‘We generate substantially all of our revenue and players through the Facebook platform and expect to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.’” This fact may make investors a bit wary of buying in immediately, but with the success of LinkedIn and the talk about growth potential of gaming/games in general, Zynga will probably fair well in this market.

      May 8, 2011

      Navy SEALs Recruitment Commercial

      Filed under: Advertising,Current Events,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 11:22 am

      This spot gave me goosebumps, so I couldn’t resist sharing.

      March 9, 2011

      Gearing up for #SXSW

      Filed under: Current Events,SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 6:11 pm

      I am headed to South by Southwest Interactive again this year and couldn’t be more excited.  Like last year, I will be posting summaries of each day’s learnings here on Ms. Adverthinker and using Twitter to share info as I travel to sessions throughout each of the days.  My plan is to share locations, photos and video, too; you will be able to find all of that here on this blog.

      While I haven’t yet decided exactly which sessions I will be attending, I have at least narrowed it to five or so selects for each time period.  View my culled list here.

      Stay tuned.  Full coverage begins on Friday.

      February 8, 2011

      I Didn’t Like the Darth Vader Super Bowl Spot

      Filed under: Advertising,Culture,Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 7:55 am

      Sure, the Darth Vader spot is cute if you like “Star Wars” and you like kids.  I thought the spot was cute, for sure; it made me smile.  But since advertising is my job, I look for more than likability (although this is very important, too) in commercials: what was the strategy?  Did it deliver the message?  What is the take away for the brand?  What is the take away for the product being promoted?

      This morning as I watched actual “news” coverage of the spot and an interview with the child actor that was in the Darth Vader costume, I hit my tipping point of curiosity and started searching for some explanation for the strategy of the spot.  The majority of the talk online, much like that “new” segment I saw this morning, talks about how “cute” the spot is and how much everybody liked it; there was little, if any, mention of the brand or the product.  While I can accept that it is a brand ad and they are not necessarily trying to sell Passats, can it be considered successful if no one remembers/talks about/notices the VW brand itself?

      It was on AdAge that I finally found a real review of the spot:

      “But if we were VW, we wouldn’t be too triumphal too quickly. Another name for the Relationship Era is the Listenomics Age, and if you listen to what was being said, you’d notice that the vast majority of the Twitter traffic mentions the ad, and not the car. Not even the model — which happens to be a Passat. Certainly nobody mentioned the ad was nominally promoting keyless ignition, and no wonder: that’s all but a generic feature.

      “So, yeah, VW got some positive attention, and that’s good. But the attention wasn’t on automobiles. That’s bad. This could have just as well been a McDonald’s commercial. Which just goes to show: If you’re peddling entertainment instead of products, cultivating smiles not constituents, the Brave New World will be just as easy to squander resources in as the cowardly old one.”

      Right on.

      January 29, 2011

      A Moment of Appreciation for Taco Bell

      Filed under: Current Events,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 12:14 pm

      I have to appreciate the most recent approach that Taco Bell has taken in response to the lawsuit about the percentage of beef in their products: a bit self-deprecating.  Check out some of the latest Twitter posts by Taco Bell:

      Of course the laughter comes only after they made it over the hump of seriously addressing the lawsuit with an official video and statement from the company president last week:

      The responses from Taco Bell, both the serious and the funny, were the right ones.  No one really believed they were eating 100% beef when they ordered from Taco Bell, especially those that are actual customers.  And they don’t care because they love the brand and the products.  The news only rallied Taco Bell’s dedicated following: their Twitter and Facebook pages are practically love fests.

      While Taco Bell had to address the situation, the acknowledgment of the humor in the situation makes the brand all the more likable and really aligns with its established feisty brand personality.

      Here is the video referenced in the Taco Bell Twitter post above. Enjoy.

      The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
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      January 17, 2011

      The Golden Globes Social Scene

      Filed under: Culture,Current Events,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 7:33 am

      Because I had some work to catch up on last night, I chose to stay home and watch the Golden Globes alone.  But I didn’t feel alone at all.  With my computer in my lap, the Twitter app running and Facebook in my browser window, it felt like I was at a watch party among friends.  I laughed at some posts, rolled my eyes at others and commented on many.  Is the fact that technology can replace the feeling of camaraderie that comes with personal, face-to-face interactions good for our society or bad?  Probably neither and both.

      This topic is explored in a new book, Alone Together.  I haven’t read the book yet, but have put it on my list to read soon.  The book was recently reviewed over at The Daily Beast:

      “The advantage to all that gadgetry, of course, is connectedness: email lets us respond on the go, and we are in touch with more people during more hours of the day than at any other time in history. But is it possible we’re more lonely than ever, too? That’s what MIT professor Sherry Turkle observes in her new book, Alone Together, a fascinating portrait of our changing relationship with technology. The result of nearly 15 years of study (and interviews with hundreds of subjects), Turkle details the ways technology has redefined our perceptions of intimacy and solitude—and warns of the perils of embracing such pseudo-techno relationships in place of lasting emotional connections.”

      The “alone” versus “together” situation works in reverse as well: when we are face-to-face among a group of people, many of us isolate ourselves by bowing our heads to the mobile devices actively lighting up in our hands.  If you don’t believe me, next time you go out to dinner, do a quick scan around the restaurant and check out what people are doing at each table.

      The impact of technology on social mores is not a new topic of conversation, but as technology and social channels continue to improve and become even more integrated into our lives, the conversation will grow.  But will anything change?  Will we pull back on the use of technology and social media now that it is ingrained in our behaviors?

      Check out the novel Super Sad True Love Story for a satirical look at the possibility of completely transparent sharing through technology and utter dependency on technology.  It is funny and sad and scary.  Set in a future where people are obsessed with appearances, their smart phones and credit scores, this book tells the story of two mismatched lovers through their journal entries and online communications.

      January 11, 2011

      Summarizing 2011 Trend Predictions

      Filed under: Current Events,Social Media,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 8:30 pm

      It is that time of year when predictions for 2011 abound across the web. It’s always tough to make predictions about technology due to the speed of innovation, but that hasn’t stopped the blogosphere from throwing opinions against the wall. Outlined below is a summary of some the most talked about and interesting predictions for 2011.

      • Online video viewing continues to grow and results ensue.
      • Photo sharing gains in popularity.
      • Social shopping gaining momentum.
      • Location sharing is (still) not going away.
      • Consumer influence continues to grow online.

      Online Video Viewing Continues To Grow and Results Ensue

      Prediction: More Companies/Brands Using Video to Sell. Every minute, 20 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. In four years, more than 90% of internet content will be video.

      Online video viewing is now more than just cute kittens. The kittens might get the most views, but consumers are actually just as interested in interacting with brands via videos as they are in laughing at pet tricks. Brands that engage consumers through video demonstrations are seeing the results on their bottom lines. Zappos, as one example, added simple videos of people holding shoes and moving them around to its sales pages and increased conversion rate from 6% to 30%. Based on that success, by the end of next year, Zappos will have ten full working video studios, with the goal of producing around 50,000 product videos by 2010, up from the 8,000 videos they have on the site today.

      Toyota is another example: its “The Swagger Wagon” music video garnered over seven million views, only three percent of which were driven by advertising.

      And, Travelocity was the first brand to jump on the Chatroulette fad early in 2010 when they placed their signature gnome character in front of the webcam holding signs with clever travel messages. Over 40 days and nights, the Roaming Gnome generated 350,000 impressions on the site, engaged in 40 conversations, and generated over 19 million media impressions for the brand.

      In the next year, we will see more brands using video to sell their products and services.

      Sources: Mashable, Streaming Media

      Prediction: More Mobile Video Sharing. Smartphones with video recording abilities are not new to consumers, and even the ability to record HD video is not new. Up until this point, however, we have not seen mobile video capturing and sharing take off. This is most likely a result of the difficulty in uploading and sharing video instantly due to bandwidth limitations. In the next year, we will see wireless providers improve bandwidth, allowing friendlier video uploads and we will devices improve video compression without sacrificing quality that will assist with immediate sharing.

      With this in mind, businesses might consider encouraging consumer use of videos to share their brand and product experiences.  Providing customers with  back-drop and props, allowing access to a wireless connection to assist in upload speed, and giving them a place to share their videos with other customers are all ways to promote brand-specific videos.

      Source: Mashable

      Photo Sharing Gains in Popularity

      Prediction: More Mobile Photo Sharing. Mobile sharing services will hit critical mass as smartphone users install apps in order to keep up with their friends. The iPhone photography app Instagr.am, which launched less that three months ago, claimed this week to have surpassed 1 million downloads. Services like Instagr.am have become so popular because they emphasize simplicity and make it easy to share your photos on social networks; Instagr.am, in particular, is liked for the filters it offers, the community they find there and the ease of cross-posting Instagrammed photos out to other networks like Flickr, Facebook and Foursquare.

      With tools like these, average users can look more like professional photographers and they want to show off their work. And, although people already post photos to Facebook, we will probably see an improvement in their photo sharing features that include integration into their Places app that launched in 2010 so that users can share their work with a broader audience of people who also visit that “place.”

      Expect to see photo sharing increase in the next year.  Businesses can capitalize on this trend by launching promotions that reward customer participation by photographs or gives customers a forum for sharing their amateur photography with others.

      Sources: ReadWriteWeb, CNN, Mashable

      Group Shopping Gaining Momentum

      Prediction: More Ability to Share Purchases Through Social Channels Allowing Customers to Become the Advertisers. When you add in a reward component, like with Groupon, there are many more people willing to share their individual purchases (or purchase intent) through their existing social platforms. Groupon was introduced to the central Arkansas area in 2010. It is a daily coupon for a local business that only becomes active if enough people purchase it that day. “This creates the incentive to share the deal with friends and family, until ‘the deal is on.’ It’s great for local businesses because they can set the parameters for the offer and they know a minimum for how many offers they will have sold in advance.” Businesses establish the offer and people who have signed up for Groupon receive the notification. If the user decides to buy the offer, they have the option of telling their friends about it – through Facebook or Twitter, thereby spreading the word to their networks, too. Groupon gets its offers in front of buyers via the word of mouth of its 13 million subscribers.

      Groupon’s effectiveness is evident in its claim that it now has 35,000 companies clamoring to be a part of the service offerings and only one in eight applicants is accepted. The companies that register with Groupon must already be getting good reviews at online review sites like Yelp, CitySearch and TripAdvisor, and the deals must offer a substantial discount from normal prices and not be similar to other promotions regularly offered by the vendor.

      In the next year, consumers will become increasingly comfortable sharing their purchases and getting their friends on board to make the same purchases.  Businesses should make this easy for their customers to do.  With tools like Facebook Connect and linking to Twitter accounts on their websites, companies can encourage customers to share their purchases through their existing social media tools.

      Sources: Social Media Explore, TechCrunch, Forbes

      Location Sharing Is (Still) Not Going Way.

      Prediction: Location Services Will Continue to Grow in Popularity. People will get more comfortable checking in to a business when they realize they can get deals and coupons for doing so. Additionally, with options like privacy blocking, enhanced security will ease the transition.

      “Relevance will distinguish [location] services from each other as the two biggest players, Facebook and Google, have the most powerful social graph data to customize deals for consumers. Don’t count Groupon out, though. It more than makes up for its comparative lack of technology with brand equity and scale, as its massive sales force will remain dominant in 2011 by further monetizing local commerce beyond the recently launched self-service platform.”

      If you are a business owner, it is “time to acquaint yourself with sites and applications such as Foursquare, Facebook Places and Gowalla. These sites will help you better target prospects’ likes and interests, pique interest and influence purchase decisions by offering discounts, promotions or giveaways when they ‘check in’ to your business.”

      Sources: Mashable, Entrepreneur

      Consumer Influence Continues To Grow Online

      Prediction: Consumers Get More Selective With The Brands They Allow In Their Social Streams. In the coming year people are going to be much more diligent about curating their own content into a more manageable form. While following a brand on Twitter or Facebook is getting consumers good coupons and deals, it is also turning their streams into undesired and overwhelming advertising channels that drown out the social sharing from their friends. “Therefore, what’s happening in Facebook is that consumers are turning off brands posting to their walls, using friends lists to pay close attention only to their ‘real’ friends, and commenting on or sharing only when something is really juicy. In Twitter, a company called Cadmus aims to change the way we view our streams by determining what content is most relevant to you based on your Twitter usage patterns. Other tools, such as Paper.li and Flipboard (for iPad), also curate Twitter, primarily based on content popularity, and make that content much more reader-friendly.”

      It is no longer enough for companies to be in these channels generating regular content. The content that brands and companies post is going to have be worthy of consumer curation into their social streams. “If your content is truly compelling and share-worthy, it’ll get noticed and Liked, it will generate Comments and Retweets, and you’ll be okay because it will have legitimately earned its way into people’s streams. If not – you’ll have to have a combination of search optimization savvy [and] fans in high places (influencers).” In the next year, as consumers get more selective in their follow habits, brands will get more creative in their ploys to make into the social streams.

      Source: Social Media Explorer

      Prediction: Online Influencers Are Celebrities. Consumers want to be heard, and more importantly they want answers. Consumers are already scouring the social web and polling their friends and followers to decide where to eat, shop and stay. Websites dedicated to customer reviews will dominate the social media landscape. Sites such as Groubal.com, consolidating common user-submitted complaints and presenting those petitions to businesses, demanding answers for their wrongdoings.

      As consumers are doing all of this, brands are desperately trying to insert themselves into those relevant streams by analyzing Twitter, blog posts and reviews to understand not only who has the largest audience, but how much influence individuals have. These influencers become well-known locally, regionally and nationally as their content is commented on, retweeted and linked to, driving them higher in search results. The past year also saw some brands go full throttle on Foursquare’s game-like geo-location platform, attempting to reward mayors and creating custom badges for the network’s power users. To measure the relevant influence of these online “celebrities,” tools like YouTube’s Partner Program is being joined by new services such as Klout to create an official layer of social credibility.

      We will see brands doing more research on their social consumers in the next year as they figure out ways to influence the influencers.

      Source: Mashable, Entrepreneur, Harvard Business Review

      January 9, 2011

      Crowdsourcing At Its Best

      Filed under: Culture,Current Events,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 1:21 pm

      The NFL has cut a spot together that features captured video of the Saints winning last year’s Super Bowl and have been airing it during the playoffs this year.  The full story of how it came together can be read here.

      Watch the video here (while the NFL did the video right, they didn’t embrace the full power of the social web to make it embeddable; a fail in my opinion).

      Crowdsourcing is not a new conversation topic on this blog.  I am always impressed by well-done, crowdsourced videos.  And, today’s example actually gave me goosebumps.  Maybe it is because I am from Louisiana and I am proud of the Saints.  Maybe it is because I have become more engaged in football lately with my Fantasy Football obsession (although a losing proposition).  Maybe it is just because I love the fact that through social channels, everyday consumers can contribute to a major advertising campaign.  Maybe it is just really well done.

      What is Quora?

      Filed under: Current Events,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 11:04 am

      Quora is a question and answer site that can be described as a mash-up of Yahoo! Answers, Wikipedia and Facebook.  It is like Yahoo! Answers because it users can post questions and anyone can answer.  It is like Wikipedia because users can edit and clarify questions posted by others.  It is like Facebook because users can “vote up” a response, moving it up in the stream.  But it is also different than all of these existing social channels.

      It is much more professionally leaning than Yahoo! Answers: the people answering questions are credentialed to answer the questions in some way.  Evan Williams, found of Twitter logs on and answers Twitter questions.  A Facebook designer answered a question about icon design.  According to Mashable, those that tend to be early adopters of social technology are the ones using Quora:”Despite some assertions that Quora has gained a broader audience, it seems to be heavily trafficked by technologists, those in the media industry and social media types.”  However,

      “In some ways, Quora has a broad appeal: answering specific questions and questions you didn’t know you had but that interest you. When users go to a search engine like Google, they are looking for specific information. Quora is similar, but, instead of an algorithm, you get answers from people who are knowledgeable about the topic. It’s similar to a social search engine.”

      Although people can edit your questions, they can’t edit your answers; they can only post another answer disputing your response, blog comment-style, making it different than Wikipedia.

      And, as for Facebook, where you have to find people or brands to follow, with Quora, you can also enter topics to get Q&A related to those topics feeding into your stream.

      Although the site launched in 2009, it is just now gaining momentum despite an uphill battle for the users of all of the existing outlets listed above:

      “Quora is up against mainstream competition. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t be a great place to get your questions answered; after all, the service has already attracted the likes of top-level CEOs. But it may have trouble winning users from mainstream services like Yahoo Answers, and the newer Facebook Question, as many will not want to join ‘another network.’” (Mashable)

      How can businesses use Quora?  To get answers, of course.  I am new to Quora, too.  While I am still trying to figure out its potential value, my initial interest is in consumer research.  We are constantly trying to figure out how to learn more about our consumers, quickly and efficiently.  A tool that reaches those not already following your brand on Facebook and Twitter, but with an interest in the topic you are researching could be a powerful resource:

      “Imagine the ability to really ask serious and honest questions of your consumers and community members. Think about the significant back and forth that can take place. Imagine what it’s like when each answer can be voted up by everyone in an equal and public fashion. While all of that has been doable for some time, it’s now taking place in a very public forum (that neither brand nor consumer “owns”). It’s also a place that is not limited to 140 characters or being mixed in with a personal profile page or a Blog that sits within a walled garden.” (Six Pixels of Separation)

      It has been a while since a new social tool has caught the attention of bloggers and the technology media, so it is possible they are grasping for anything that might be interesting to discuss.  Or, it might be that Quora will catch on with mainstream users.  Regardless, if you are looking for answers, it is worth checking out and exploring.

      UPDATE: Just came across this article that talks about maintaining the quality of the posts as growth continues to a more mainstream audience.

      July 15, 2010

      Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

      Filed under: Culture,Current Events,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 12:21 pm

      The Social Network. This trailer actually makes the movie look interesting. Looking forward to it.

      Thanks to Blake’s Think Tank for passing this along.