A long time ago (30 years ago this weekend, to be exact), in a galaxy not very far away (our very own, if you want to know the truth), a little movie called Return of the Jedi opened in theaters across America. It was the conclusion of the first Star Wars trilogy and, as such, was one of the most highly anticipated films – actually, events -- that I can remember. It promised to answer all of the fans’ questions, particularly after the huge cliffhanger from the previous installment, The Empire Strikes Back (“Luke, I am your father!”). The demand for the film was so pent up that lines formed around city blocks just to get in on opening day.
Impressive - most impressive. Courtesy AP file photo.
As you can see, the release of Return of the Jedi on May 25, 1983, was more than just a movie premiere. It was somewhat of a cultural milestone, a gathering where likeminded people could congregate to take part in an experience that meant something to them.
It’s very difficult to achieve this type of attention for anything these days, even outside of big movie premieres (perhaps especially outside of big movie premieres, which are a dime a dozen). Does the latest edition of The Fast & The Furious provoke an enduring sense of community in legions of Vin Diesel or hot rod fans? Unlikely.
Fortunately, businesses have it somewhat easier. They have many tools at their disposal that can help them build and foster a sense of community among their customers. It starts with providing exceptional products, of course (after all, there’s a reason why the first three Star Wars films are referred to as “the classic trilogy”), but it extends to how those products are extolled to and within the customer community, which is often a company’s best resource for promotion.
The terms “fanboy” and “fangirl” (“fanperson”?) were created to describe an individual who is so zealous about a particular company or product that they can’t see the benefits of competing companies or solutions. That guy dressed as Darth Vader in the picture above (I’m assuming it’s a guy – I don’t know of any self-respecting woman who would do that)? Definite Star Wars fanboy. And while that term is often used in a derogatory fashion, there’s still something comforting in knowing that there are people so invested in a particular property that they’re willing to go to certain lengths to support it.
Many companies have customers, but only a small number have fanpeople who are so into a company that they’re willing to publicize it on their own or actively participate in initiatives – for free, no less! -- that will make the company better. Apple, of course, is well known for their customers’ fervent loyalty, which creates a halo effect around them that encourages others to try out Apple products. But that’s far from the only example. Actually, it may not even be the best example of a successful customer community.
Other organizations have worked very hard to develop communities that not only work hard to tell others about their products, but shape the company’s business. Take SolarWinds, an Austin-based IT software provider. Recently, the company announced that members of its user community, thwack, had crowdsourced a number of ideas for new features, helping influence the implementation of certain product features. In this case, the passion of the thwack community actually had a direct bearing on the company’s products.
Other organizations also have very passionate fanpeople working for them. Companies as diverse as Red Hat, Amazon, Dunkin’ Donuts and others have legions of loyal customers that, if not willing to actually develop something for them, are at least more than willing to espouse their benefits to others. And, much like any self-respecting Star Wars fan would never admit that Star Trek is the better franchise, they usually won’t stray very far from the organizations they like to purchase from.
Building this type of customer loyalty – this fanbase – is not easy. In fact, it takes years of consistent effort. And while it goes without saying that it involves great product development, marketing communications plays a critical role as well, because it is there that great rapport with customers is can be born and cultivated.
There are a number of ways to do this, and they all stem from building a connection with the company, a sense that each customer is extremely important:
Use social media as a customer service tool. Too many organizations use social media strictly as a way of marketing the company. While it’s absolutely correct to use these channels for promotion, it’s not enough. Networks such as Facebook and Twitter should also be a means through which organizations can right wrongs, answer questions, and fix problems. In short, they should serve as an extension of a company’s customer service efforts. Don’t just use these channels to start a conversation, use them as a forum to help customers. It’s a great way to turn them into fans.
Hangout online. Google Hangouts are a great way to interact with your customers. They provide an opportunity for you to interact directly with the people who care most about your company through live streams and conversations. Not everyone has the budget or time to attend a user conference, but it’s easy to sign into Google and join a Hangout. It’s also far more personal.
Hold office hours. Twitter is one of the best real-time communication tools the world has ever seen. Use it as such. Set up a specified time when your executives can field questions live via Twitter. During this time, have these executives answer as many questions as they can – they shouldn’t shy away from the tough ones (actually, they should focus especially on the tough ones and embrace them as an opportunity for positive communications).
Host a webinar. Traditional press conferences have, by and large, gone the way of the dinosaurs. They’ve been replaced by online conferences and webinars that can be more inclusive and speak not only to the media but also to the people who actually buy products and are invested in a particular business. These can be short – an hour, let’s say – or last half a day. The trick is to make them both highly informative and interactive, and complement them with liveblogs, Twitter feeds, and more.
There’s a common theme among all of these topics: not the power of the Force, but the power of listening. Marketers are prone to telling customers what they want them to hear, but, in order to build that deep connection, they must also listen to what customers are trying to say. Ultimately, this is the key to turning a customer into a fanperson – letting them become invested in your business by hearing what they have to say.
Of course, organizations are free to try the “Dark Side” approach, if they like, which is what Nutella did when the brand’s parent company, Ferrero, tried to shut down the fan-created World Nutella Day. For the uninitiated, World Nutella Day is an annual event, held on February 5, to celebrate the wonders of the delicious spread. For reasons unbeknownst to man, Ferrero issued a cease and desist to the organizer of World Nutella Day, effectively leading them to cancel the event. Not surprisingly, fans went into an uproar, taking to the Web to decry what they felt was a ridiculous move by a corporation that was, in the end, shooting itself in the foot by not allowing its said fans to promote the brand. That cease and desist has since been lifted, and the world will, once again, be able to celebrate Nutella again next year.
Truer words were never spoken. Courtesy iwastesomuchtime.com
By and large, though, most companies understand that the direct way to a customer’s heart is through direct, honest communication and a show of respect. In fact, companies that are successful in doing this have some of the most loyal fanbases in the world. And those fans typically don’t keep their love for certain organizations to themselves; they like to talk about it among their peers and friends and congregate with others who have similar interests. They talk up companies on online forums, through social media channels, at trade shows and conferences, and with their associates. They promote brands, all without being on the payroll.
There’s a reason why J.J. Abrams is making a new Star Wars movie, more than 30 years after the first one premiered. It’s because people like me continue to feel passionate about them. As a result, we tell our children who Luke Skywalker is and we get them playing Angry Birds Star Wars. In other words, we pass the torch onto others, and get them invested just as we are. That’s what being a fan is, and why creating fans can help your company thrive for years.
My daughter's new t-shirt. She's 4, by the way.
I couldn't resist the title - I'm an unabashed big fan of moster ballads. So, I digress early in this blog post, but not really.
This week, we helped launch a good story and I was excited to be a part of it. Mostly because I believe in what they are doing.
This week Zoobean launched.
From the press release:
"Zoobean is the site that makes it easy to find remarkable children’s books that have been recommended and curated by parents. They also announced $500,000 in seed investment led by Kapor Capital.... Zoobean offers a subscription service and direct sales of its well-loved books. Books on Zoobean are cataloged by recommended age, relevant topics, characters’ backgrounds, and other tags that matter to families."
That's the basics, and the rest is a good example of the correlation between story and coverage.
Zoobean was born when husband and wife Co-founders Felix Brandon Lloyd and Jordan Lloyd Bookey were expecting their second child. They went in search of a great children’s book to explain to their 3-year-old son what it would mean to be a big brother. This task turned out to be much more challenging than they expected.
At the time, they could not easily find books that told stories about new experiences and featured a brother and sister and a multiracial family. In stores, books were organized by genre, author, or very broad themes that weren’t really relevant for us,” said Chief Mom Jordan Lloyd Bookey. “We also searched many popular shopping websites, but the information was overwhelming and impersonal. In the end, we were frustrated and empty-handed. The same frustration might have resulted looking for books about bullying and teasing, the death of a pet, or finding e-books featuring Latino characters. Parents and educators rely on remarkable books to help connect children to their worlds and we decided to create Zoobean to address a need that benefits families and helps children imagine and achieve anything.”
Lloyd and Bookey are both former teachers and bring their domain expertise to the venture. Lloyd is a former Washington, D.C. Teacher of the Year for 2000/2001 and most recently built and sold Skill-Life, a financial literacy platform, which is now MoneyIsland. Bookey is the outgoing head of Google’s K-12 Education Outreach. She is also a former teacher and director with a DC-based non-profit supporting improved literacy in low-income neighborhoods.
Good story, right? It has the elements of timeliness with National Children's Book Week, human interest, a strong local hook, and on the technical front - funding was obviously a major angle, as was Jordan as a higher up with Google and Felix having started and sold a financial literacy platform prior to Zoobean.
Even with the wealth of angles, the coverage was still hard fought, with the common wrangling around exclusives and timing. There's still more media to penetrate, specifically in lifestyle/parenting category, who are more interested in stories and contributed content and less so in launches.
We're proud of the initial results: https://www.zoobean.com/news
So, back to monster ballads.
I'm an aunt to two awesome, almost 5-year-olds. They live near San Francisco, so we FaceTime a lot and I LOVE to send them gifts. I try really hard not to send them junk, so I spend hours scouring sites online to find the best of books and toys for them. And while I love thinking about what will make them smile and engage their respective minds, the search part kind of sucks. I cross my fingers that the sites I scour actually have decent authority and I find myself calling my brother to say, "what about this?" and sometimes he knows, but most of the time it's a flip of the coin as to whether what I've found online will be great. Then there is the actually finding it to buy once it's identified. Once I find that list of "top" whatever for 5-year-old boys, I have to go to retail sites to see if it's actually available for purchase. It's pretty time consuming and my schedule is pretty busy, so I find myself doing this research, gut check and purchase cycle at off hours.
Enter Zoobean. They are starting with remarkable children's book and their long-term goal is to expand into children's toys and educational products. Parents, teachers and librarians curate the books on their site, so I don't need to call my brother to ask. They have a subscription service, so I can buy direct from them and for the books that they don't sell, I can click a link versus having to start a second search. I also love that tagging makes sense for most famlies' reality. My nephews have a Jewish and Christian background. Their parents are divorced. Both sets of grandparents and Aunts and Uncles live in different states than they do. They are fraternal and are very different. One of them is bigger than the other and uses that in his favor; the smaller one is aware of this and has always navigated self esteem and how to "compete" with this. In short, they are a typical, not-so-typical family and they love, love, love being read to and are in the process of starting to read themselves. They are my family, and I want the books we/they read to be outstanding. I also want them to see themselves in each wonderful story.
Zoobean is quality, thoughtful and easy in an online world that seems to be based on volume, cheaper, and faster. They've won this Aunt over - given me something to believe in - so it's just a matter of time before the rest of you are experiencing the same, welcome, sigh of relief:)
I am fortunate to be attending the Entrepreneur Organization (EO)’s Global Leadership Conference this week in Panama City, Panama, where approximately 500 entrepreneurs and incoming board members for chapters within the Americas are gathered to learn from leaders, visionaries, and peers, and plan for their chapter for the 2013-2104 fiscal year.
These men and women volunteer their time and expertise on top of an already busy schedule to help make EO a stronger organization while helping themselves and their peers. The organization is over 25 years old, and boasts 8,000+ members worldwide. The EO|DC Chapter boasts over 130 members alone and 12 people are here from the incoming EO|DC board.
As I participate in the conference, I reflect on a Wall Street Journal article I read last week about CEO fatigue that was passed along by a member of another organization in which I am involved, MindShare. MindShare boasts an alumni of its invite-only group of first time CEOs of over 600 members, and the Listserv lit up with advice and reflection on the article and the dangers of not having a support structure, or not recognizing warning signs of burnout and stress. MindShare serves to help build CEOs to be a bigger and better part of our community and industries they support.
The article speaks to some of the challenges entrepreneurs, CEOs and executive leaders often feel as they strive to lead their organizations to excellence. I then passed the article on to many of my colleagues in a leadership role. It’s not as easy to find a support structure of peers—those who understand what you wake up to every day and what you feel, the good and the bad.
So it’s intriguing to be in a room a week later, of high-powered, overachieving entrepreneurs who want to change the world in their own way. The energy in the room is breathtaking. Inspiring. Since many of our clients, partners and members of our ecosystem fall into the entrepreneurial category, I thought I would share some of the organizations I’ve encountered which provide an opportunity for support, comradarie, learning, inspiration, leadership skills and even lasting friendships. I've been involved with many of these, so I'm a little biased. So please, feel free to add any groups you've found helpful...and enjoy.
Entrepreneur Organization (EO): I became a member relatively recently - two years ago, and haven't looked back since. I immediately supported the board as much as I could as I gleaned what I could from the great speakers and social events EO supported. Some people look to EO for the Forum experience: a tight group of entrepreneurs with whom you meet every month, or for the speakers who insprire and educate, or for the universities all over the world that are mini-leadership conferences. Some enjoy all of the above. Dues are relatively reasonable given the level of access you receive.
Vistage: I was a member of Vistage for over seven years in the early stages of my company, and it changed my life. It was the first CEO-peer advisory group I encountered and the model is to join an intimate group of CEOs of similar size (non-competitive) to meet once a month and share business issues, personal challenges, and the like. Members had to commit to one day a month to ensure the maximum value, and we often took retreats with our significant others and families for personal fun. There is a nice shout out to Vistage in this New York Times article about the power of a peer group at the top. Worth a good look, as they are a global organization as well.
FounderCorps: This local group was started by Jonathan Aberman and a board of advisors who wanted to build an organization to serve entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. They hold monthly events, support local initiatiaves to help build the community ecosystem, and help to connect mentors with protegees and more. FounderCorps is supporting the Ballston Innovation Initiative (BI2), which is hosting a National Security Day for Entrepreneurs on June 12th, at the Virginia Tech Arlington Campus. Take a look if you're local to the DC region...
Cadre of DC: I've been to a couple of Cadre events, and it's not limited to entrepreneurs or even CEOs, but it is intended to be a peer networking group for leaders in the DC community. It's membership-based, and there has to be a mutual fit between menbers and the organization. There is an application process to follow. They do hold significant events, and it's definitely one to keep on your radar screen as you look to build out your network.
MindShare: This one is a little tricky to be included, because it is an invite-only event for a specific type of CEO, so it's not for everyone. But it's a powerful peer group of CEOs. It is structured like a class environment, (I wrote about the MindShare model in an earlier post), and about 50-60 first time CEOs of product businesses (no services firms) will hear from experts helping CEOs to grow a scable business. Then more magic happens when these entrepreneurs "graduate" and become a part of the powerful alumni group that share best practices, complaints, challenges, and successes. More information is available in this press release.
So, as I come across additional organizations, I will update this list to reflect new opportunities. Please share ones who have had an impact on your life!
--Elizabeth Shea, @eliz2shea
If you missed today’s webinar “The Convergence of PR and SEO: Harnessing the Power of Content, Social and Search,” here are a few of the key points and highlights that you should know about. Led by Janet Driscoll Miller, President and CEO of Search Mojo and SpeakerBox’s own Elizabeth Shea, the webinar focused on how marketing and communications professionals can improve their PR, content marketing and SEO programs and how these elements should be coordinated.
The webinar kicked off with a focus on content – because after all, content is king. Unlike a few years back, PR efforts including authored articles and the like are now considered another form of content and utilized as such. And written content is not the only way to increase SEO either. If possible, incorporate webinars, images and videos on your Website. Videos in particular rank very high in Google search results.
Creating great content does not have to involve recreating the wheel each time either. In fact, content should be repurposed up to 5 times to gain maximum value. Have a great case study? Turn it into a press release. They key however, is to make sure the content varies enough to avoid duplicating. Google’s recent Panda update changed the algorithm of search results to reduce the amount of duplicate content. If you want all of your great content to continue to show up in search results – be sure not to reuse without rewording, to make sure it is substantially different.
Another key for increasing SEO value is ensuring content has links back to your site. These links act as votes of popularity for Google and help you to be known as an authority on a topic. So where do the best links come from? That is where PR can come in – as the best links are often from reputable news sites and blogs. If you have an article placed or comment in one, try following up with editors and authors asking for links back. Keep in mind, quality is more important then quantity, as a link from CNN is likely much more beneficial than 100 links from other sites.
New, but potentially highly impactful in the world of SEO includes Google Authorship. Google Authorship ensures you are getting the right ownership over your content. It provides a “rich snippet” in search results, helping your content to stand out amongst the other results and be more prominent on the page. While this may not seem like much, according to one study, the number of clicks increased by 150% once a rich snippet was added. You will need a Google+ profile to set up the authorship – so the first step is to make sure you have one set up. Check out the full webinar (the recording will live on our resources page) for details around how to set up Google Authorship for your blog and content. Google Authorship will also likely have an effect on PR, as the SEO value of a reporter may come into play when offering exclusives.
Janet and Elizabeth also discussed the use of social media when it comes to SEO. One of the key ways to use social to help with SEO is spreading links. By being social and sharing information, inbound links to your site will spread, showing Google that your company is talked about.
If there was one main takeaway from the webinar on how you can get your company primed for increased SEO – it would be to set up Google Authorship. It will help immensely in search results, putting your company right where you want to be – at the top of the page.
This is just a snippet of the discussion on today’s webinar. If you missed it, fear not, the full archived version is available here.
"This is almost as bad as the Golden Globes. No, wait, what am I saying?"
Some of our more observant readers have noted that my blog posts are trending a bit polemical and sarcastic. Fair point, but not applicable today because... It's time once again for the SpeakerBox Best Tech Awards (the Katzys) -- a musical celebration of technologies I miraculously don't hate.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in with their suggestions, but I deleted all your emails because this is not at all a democratic operation. Instead, I've selected the winners based almost entirely on their write-ups in Skymall.
Now, to present the first award, here are real-life colleagues Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.
Jackman: Video composite editors take a messy pile of fractured images and somehow turn it into cinematic magic!
Hathaway: I'm sorry, what is... Is this a blog post?
Award #1: Best tech inspired by the movie Village of the Damned:
This one goes to g.tec, the company behind "brainpainting" brain amplifiers -- which aim to deliver a thought-controlled computing interface for tech users disabled by paralysis.
"Hold on a sec, someone's spamming my left-front temporal lobe."
The downside is that you have to wear a skull cap made of electrodes (which Quartz magazine points out makes Google Glass glasses look like Ray Bans).
But the core benefit here is exciting, and has potentially much more applicability than just help for the physically disabled.
Thought-controlled computing would be fast and (you know, sorta by definition) intuitive.
Imagine being able to get an "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that" response from SIRI just through mere pondering alone!
Award #2: Best tech inspired by the movie Minority Report
Okay, so if we can't control computers with our minds, can we at least control them by flicking?
That's the question Myo's creators set-out to answer, and boy did they! For a mere $149, you, yourself, today, can purchase vague promises of some sort of wristband in 2014.
Also available in "attractive."
Availability aside, an app-control interface guided by the electrical signals in your wrist muscles sounds pretty cool -- and great for keeping your retina displays smudge-free. (I'm told a Kickstarter-funded project called Leap Motion is working on a similar device at half the cost.) The question, of course, is how accurate and precise the motion capture can become. I was skeptical about touch-screen technology, but Apple certainly delivered there. So, color me intrigued, and ready to strap on my Myo and start fighting pre-crime.
Award #3: Best tech inspired by a John Belushi traffic stop
Maybe you've been moving around computers with your mind and wrist all day, and suddenly you're not feeling too hot.
You could go to the doctor, who will almost certainly perform unnecessary surgery on you in order to meet his ObamaCare quota (as is my understanding from reading the National Review), or you could test your own urine on your iPhone.
Now I know what you're thinking. First, do not pee on your iPhone until you read the end of this sentence where I will tell you unequivocally to never under any circumstance pee on your iPhone and... you already did, didn't you?
Anyway, uChek, the mobile urine analysis lab, works with the iPhone's camera to photograph and analyze the colors of a urine test strip. Evidently, the technology can check for urinary tract infections, liver and kidney problems, and in a pinch, midichlorean levels if you suspect you may be traveling to Coruscant with a Jedi.
"The graphs on the right in conjunction with the data sets on the left seem to indicate that I worry too much about things."
So there you have it, folks. Three new technologies that I'm actually excited about.
I'm also excited because I'm writing this at the Santa Fe airport, and Amanda Seyfried is (no joke) two feet in front of us saying goodbye to a friend. Too bad she's terrible in pretty much every movie she's ever been in. I wanted to be like, "Hey I loved you in..." But then I couldn't think of how to finish that sentence. #santafeproblems
Everyone’s favorite completely legitimate source of news – so legitimate, in fact, that China’s People’s Daily Online has cited its hard-hitting reporting and insightful commentary. But The Onion isn’t just a bastion of journalistic integrity – it’s also home to some brilliant marketers.
I’m not talking about Microsoft’s “The Browser You Love to Hate” push around Internet Explorer, which catapulted Onion Labs into existence, or any of the other crazy-yet-brilliant branding campaigns spearheaded by the organization. Instead, I’m talking about something very simplistic in scope: A job posting.
But not just any job posting – this is for a Listening Intern, a one-day unpaid position at the company’s Chicago’s bureau whose sole job is to…listen. The Onion wants potential recruits to use the following procedure for consideration:
- Watch Onion News Empire on Amazon Video
- Post a review on the Amazon page for the show
- Link to your review in your application
- List three reasons why you deserve to be hired
While a unique way to push for views of a fledgling media property, this would be a failing effort for most brands – but maybe not those with the cache of The Onion. It’s a little too soon to tell if this is going to be successful or not, but it’s certainly creative and smacks of that certain brand of madness expected of America’s Finest News Source.
So what do you think? Is this just a lame stunt or an effective way to market?
Recently a friend of mine shared the above ad over Facebook. As an on-and-off Trekkie, and someone who's looking forward to the new Star Trek Into Darkness film, I clicked on it...and was treated to a very clever, funny, geeky ad for Audi automobiles.
It was also quite long; about two and a half minutes. But I'm not complaining, because it's a good ad. It's engaging, entertaining, and gets its key selling points across. Does it make me want to go out and buy an Audi? No, not exactly, although I'm sure they're fine cars. But it does leave me impressed with what the company and its ad agency were able to come up with, and the level of creativity that they were able to put into those two and a half minutes.
I think that's one of the keys here -- the length of the video. While I've known this for awhile, ads like this serve to remind me that the traditional model of watching a 30-second television commercial is dead and gone, most likely to never return.
That's because our viewing habits have changed. We no longer consume media in the traditional ways and, if we do, we're likely fast forwarding through those TV commercials as fast as our DVRs can go. Instead, we're watching many more videos online, via smartphones, tablets, Internet-connected TVs and game consoles, and more.
As a result, our expectations for what advertisers should be showing us have also changed. On the one hand, ads that appear between shows we watch online are typically expected to be shorter -- 15 seconds apiece, tops, or our attention to that latest episode of Modern Family on Hulu will be severely tested. On the other, we're absolutely more than happy to consume longer form versions of content like the Spock vs. Spock challenge above -- as long as we can consume it on our own time. On-demand, if you will.
I actually think this is a boon for advertisers, rather than a potential bust. The longer form gives them a certain creative freedom that they simply do not have when operating within the constraints of a 30-second ad. It allows them to play more with the content, too, making it perhaps a bit edgier (KMart's recent "Ship My Pants" videos are fine examples). And if they can get it all right they'll obtain not only a captive audience, but a huge one as well. They may even have the next Old Spice Guy on their hands (not literally, and I just realized that with that, and the "ship my pants" thing, this paragraph is starting to get a little questionable, so, moving on...).
Ahem. In any case, the point is this: the Web has allowed for advertisers to broaden their creativity and their audience. And I'm looking forward to watching what they come up with next.
- Pete Larmey
It’s the historic battle of men vs. women, but this time it’s a new age battle in the social media arena. Who tweets, posts, pins, links, shares and networks more? A new infographic posted by Interentserviceproviders.org has presented us with a nice visual of their findings. As you’ll see, men and women definitely seem to have their own niches in the social media world. Overall, the report indicates that us ladies use social media more, in general, than men, citing 71 percent of women vs. 62 percent of men. Which, I wasn’t too surprised to hear. In a completely neither scientific nor valid study of myself vs. my husband, I hands down take the social media prize for time spent on social networks. What was more interesting was where each gender was spending their time: Men more so on LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+, while women were more active on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest (OK, so I wasn’t surprised about Pinterest, either). Check out the some of the other interesting morsels of gender-based social media behaviors:
- Twitter: Each month, more than 40 million women visit Twitter
- Facebook: Women have 8% more friends than men, but 8/10 women claim their Facebook friends annoy them (I guess we’re afraid to unfriend!)
- Pinterest: Has a user base that is 70% female
- Google+: With a 64% male user base, only 1 in 4 use Google+ as a social network
- LinkedIn: Men account for 54% of users
- YouTube: 25% of men vs. 17% of women watch a YouTube video daily
Some of the stats for the infographic came from a February Pew Research Center study that pointed to women aged 18 to 29 being the most active social media users. For another year, I’ll be included in that demographic, but I’ll be interested to keep an eye on the trends to see how things change and shift over the next several years - what new platforms appear and how specific age groups and genders adopt those platforms. For now, check out the full infographic below. Does it represent how you use social media?
As a few SBXers have outlined before, we’re none too pleased about the demise of Google Reader (GR). We’ve been searching out alternatives and comparing notes internally, but I think we’d all just rather keep our original readers that were set up the way we liked them.
Well, we are apparently not alone. A survey by Digg conducted in April found that 40 percent of people surveyed would be willing to PAY for a GR replacement. While, it’s lower than the number of folks that wouldn’t be willing to pay, I’m still a little shocked by how large that percentage is. I, for one, would not be willing to pay for a service that doesn’t quite stack up in comparison to a service I used to get for free.
It could be that people think a paid service won’t disappear on them the way GR has, but that is not necessarily the truth. A paid service can certainly go out of business or shutter it’s doors as well. Personally, I’d rather pay to get GR back.
Digg’s survey was conducted to gather information to make their impending reader service and additional features fit the needs of former GR users. But, to me it just shows how much people will miss GR. The survey also found that email sharing still dominates social channels. (I’d agree here and I’d like my reader to push emails to Gmail instead of Outlook.)
And, it shows that no one really cares about the social features within the reader platform. It seems to me that if people are going to share an article they already know where/how they want to share it – the reader doesn’t need to become a social network in itself, we have enough of those. But, Digg has decided to ignore this nugget, noting below the graph that despite the answer they believe that creating a social feeling within their reader is important.
I’m not sure that I’ll be trying out Digg’s reader service when it launches in June (especially if they are going to charge for it), but I will certainly be keeping an eye on it.
Unrelated: Join our webinar "The Convergence of PR and SEO" on Thursday!
"Shoot, I kinda liked this thing before that last round of edits."
Advertising is a subjective business. Certainly, we’ve seen our fair share of juvenile, misguided, and downright offensive advertisements in 2013. (For example, this genius Berlusconi ad from Ford’s agency in India).
That said, my position—and I realize this contradicts the common wisdom—is that an offensive ad can never be truly terrible. Because it's doing something. It's driving the conversation somewhere.
The question I ask when evaluating an offensive ad is whether or not the ad is so offensive that I would never again consider buying from the company, no matter how tempting their products and offers.
And that’s a pretty high bar. After all, Gap is still around, and those clothes are made by child slaves in Asia. So clearly, we have a great talent as Americans for ignoring the outrageously horrible.
Speaking of outrageous, remember that GoDaddy.com Super Bowl ad with supermodel Bar Rafaeli and that nerdy tech guy making out? Fantastic ad, I thought—got people talking by grossing them out.
(Quick sidebar: What does it say about our society that we're made uncomfortable watching an attractive person kissing an unattractive person? I'm not grandstanding here and saying I'm better than that; I squirmed just as much as anyone. I'm just a little worried about what that says about our culture...)
Anyway, after the Super Bowl, almost everyone I talked to officially "hated" the ad. And yet they were talking about it, endlessly, everywhere. Mindshare, people, mindshare!
So, following my previously stated offensiveness criterion: Is anyone going to see the ad and affirmatively boycott GoDaddy.com? Probably not. Remember this is a fairly commoditized Web domain and services business we’re talking about. They don't really care what you think about their values; they just want you price shopping on their website, and to get you there, they need to stay top-of-mind.
Now, does this mean that I’m saying all one needs for a winning SuperBowl ad is close-up footage of a man passing a kidney stone, followed by a BP logo?
Yes! That’s precisely what I’m saying.
But enough about great ads. Let’s get on to the real point of this blog, which is the worst ad I've ever seen. As regular readers know, I often write about why B2B and B2G marketing is so much poorer than the B2C variety. But today, let's focus instead on a much easier question: How precisely do we achieve such drivel?
Typically, it begins as B2B and B2G professional services companies devise their unique selling proposition, which invariably turns out to be: "We do good stuff."
(Naturally, if you needed good stuff done, you'd turn to these guys—owning to all the good stuff that they're clearly doing.)
"We do good stuff" is sometimes supplemented by two powerful companion messages: 1. "We exist,” and 2. "We have money for advertising."
From the messaging stage we move to the ad creative. Now here, the logo is going to do most of the heavy lifting, because our greatness is self-evident. We're not trying to convince people of anything, only to gently remind them of their unquestioned affinity for our superior brand of military-grade industrial lubricant.
So that’s the process. And here’s the result: a DC Metro ad that undoubtedly garnered high-fives and “nailed it” whispers from every person in Harris upper management:
Let’s just count the ways in which this ad is terrible, using the Internet’s most valuable currency—snark.
Oh, you’re IT experts, are you? You specialize in the thing that everyone else in this area specializes in? That's just super. Way to differentiate yourself, Harris. You just need two more words added to the beginning of that headline: “Trust Us.”
Not so much sentences as a series of ambiguous verbs. We also get a sub-head that’s basically just a second, unrelated headline. It’s as if they couldn’t decide which headline they liked best, so they just used both. Great job in not backing up an incredibly vague headline with any type of actual message or argument.
What am I even looking at here? It's a computer and a man in the shape of an X? What could this possibly tell me about Harris? Oh wait, I remember now from the headline... they do IT. Obviously, this image reinforces the fact that they deal with computers, as opposed to burgers. Super helpful.
4. QR code
OK, these are just terrible—always. It’s a scientific fact that no one in the history of the universe has ever actually activated a QR code. And yet they keep popping up—probably because marketers think they're trendy and forward-thinking. Never mind the complete absence of utility.
So there you have it—the most innocuous, forgettable, milquetoast ad that's ever been produced. It will offend no one, but it will impact no one.
And therefore, it’s an exercise in futility—the worst kind of marketing malpractice. Like they say in my University of Phoenix philosophy class: If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody cares, do you still get to bill for the chainsaw?
Not satisfied? Need still more examples of B2B marketing shadenfreude? Then check out this white paper below. I promise, things only get worse on the Web...