Category Archives: Marketing

What the F**k is Social Media (One Year Later)

Social media is no longer just a new marketing experiment. Nor is it just a hot fad. 3 out of 4 Americans and 2 out of 3 worldwide web users are on it. Yet, corporations still only think of it as a marketing tool. It is much more than that. It’s a chance for business to communicate with its fans; to create, build and satisfy new audiences; it’s a chance to brand. Yes, all those things. But that’s just on the business side. It’s also a chance for listening, sharing, exchanging with fans, who will in turn help promote you more.

So why the f**k is social media so important? This updated report from Marta Kagan really explains it well.

Get on it.

Screw You Recession: Using Social Media With Brands — Virgin Mobile

Traditional brands have had a hard time figuring out social media. They are used to old marketing models where they keep firm control of the message.

Create a brand phrase or concept and then repeat it millions of time on whatever media platforms, getting as much exposure as possible. The adage “If they say it often enough, it must be true” has been the prevailing wisdom for decades. The hoped-for by-product? “Gosh, if they are willing to spend so much money to tell me something about their product, it must be true…so I’ll buy it.”

All the traditional ad markets have softened: TV, newspapers, radio, magazines. And the projections for the next few years look tough.

For decades, consumers have been sold, pitched, cajoled, and almost guilted in buying products through the magic of marketing and advertising.

Why are the ad markets hurting? Psychologically, making a purchase satisfies many possible things: taking care of a need; a want; a desire; or for preventing something they fear. That is no different today than from previous generations. Traditional media still “sells” needs, wants, desire and fear-fixers.

It’s just that today’s consumers want more than simply being told to buy something before they make a purchase.

They want to engage.

They want to hear from other consumers to validate their own thinking about the brand choice.

They want their own voice heard.

So far, traditional brand marketing has been slow and inconsistent in its success using social (or user-generated) media for marketing.

Remember the user-generated Dorito’s Super Bowl TV ads?

What about the GM’s Chevy Tahoe SUV ad contest?

Just in the last few weeks, Skittles set the Twitterverse afire by changing their main brand homepage to their Twitter profile, then to their Facebook profile. To help their customers “Interweb the rainbow”, users create custom “garageband-like” audio themes using various Skittles audio clips. What did it get them? Lots of social media hype, more than 630,000 Facebook friends (M&M’s Facebook site only has 25,000 fans)…and an increase of their web traffic by more than 1,325% the first day it launched the campaign.

So can a brand do well by saying “Screw You, Recession”? One is trying…and using social media to do it.

Here’s a site blending social media merged with an established brand. Go to and it comes from the new thinkers over at Virgin. Virgin tends to embrace marketing experiments; I think it’s worthwhile to check it out. Tying in recession concerns with younger people, it’s a blog with a heavy user comment section, simple Virgin Mobile advertising and various topics sections on money, living, fashion, going out, tech and more. Plus they Twitter and Facebook it tying it together.

The impact: How can you (the consumer) screw the recession? You need your cellphone. Screw the recession by using a Virgin Mobile cellphone.

They’ve done some cool research through the site on their users.

As reported this week in Virgin Mobile press release of their JD Power study:

“Virgin Mobile Canada has created a mood meter that ranges from “Everything Sucks Huge” (red) to “The Recession Ain’t Getting Me Down” (green). The five-stage colourcoded system shows that – this week – young Canadians are on Yellow Alert (“Sorta’ Freaking Out Right Now”), which means:
* Biting nails – 72% are anxious about their future
* Brand disloyalty – 41% have given up a brand they love
* Show me the value! – 52% are open to trying value brands
* Chic-onomics – 88% have changed their shopping habits
* Recessionistas – 42% are making “noticeable sacrifices”
* Unemployment – 42% fear being unemployed
* Politics – 57% say they don’t believe a change in government would change anything
* The Simple Life – 75% want a simpler life.

The Mood Meter looks exclusively at the impact the recession is having on young people’s (17-35s) lives, how they’re feeling about the state of the economy and what the recession means to them. It’s also a barometer of their thoughts and shopping habits, as well as their feelings on how brands are behaving. See Virgin Mobile’s”

The only thing they miss is not tying it into their Virgin Radio sites. It’s a natural partner.

Cross-platform connection on contemporary consumer demands, needs, desires or fears…with the consumer front-and-centre contributing and sharing the content.

The audience (listeners/customers) are the drivers…all we in media have to do is provide the proper vehicles for them to get where they want to go and what they want right now.

That’s how brand marketing can use social media to its advantage.

Tribes and Brand Building…Plus Seth Godin about Twitter

Twitter just jumped its total number of users in the last couple of weeks — from 6 million to 8 million — due to more mainstream media coverage (The Daily Show, morning radio shows, newspapers, many others). Leading “Tribes” maven and Senior Purple Cow Seth Godin refuses to tweet. To find out why, go to the 9:15 mark of this Ted 2009 conference interview (February 5, 2009):

Whether or not you use Twitter, social media needs to be part of your modern marketing plan. To marketing messages to have impact today, they need to feed into consumer’s needs for convenience, connection, community and control. They want to be fans and to share through positive word of mouth. The key is provide content for your brand’s most passionate users to help spread the word and praise.

That’s how you get customers in your store today.

Marketing Sherpa says in a recent survey that over 90% of companies believe social media is most effective in building brand reputation and awareness, with direct marketing objectives falling into the second tier expectations.

Spotting upcoming social networking trends is important in the world of word-of-mouth campaigning. Brand enthusiasm is an essential ingredient when building brand awareness. It immediately has the strongest potential of converting into sales and extended customer loyalty.

Just as Seth Godin believes. You may not see him posting Twitter…but, believe me, he loves seeing his fans tweet about him and his books.

Hey, if you are a fan of this article, tweet it!

A Different Look At Social Media and Important Changes Coming

ReadWriteWeb is a fantastic blogsite…informative and broad-reaching in its coverage of new media. Great resource worth a bookmark. Yesterday, they posted an article with a bit of a contrarian point of view on social media.

“Making Money” is perhaps the biggest challenge social media must face.

Here were some of their posted thoughts:

“Social media” was the term du jour in 2008. Consumers, companies, and marketers were all talking about it. We have social media gurus, social media startups, social media books, and social media firms. It is now common practice among corporations to hire social media strategists, assign community managers, and launch social media campaigns, all designed to tap into the power of social media.

But social media today is a pure mess: it has become a collection of countless features, tools, and applications fighting for a piece of the pie.

Facebook, a once groundbreaking online community, has become the ant colony of third-party applications. Twitter users now have a dozen or so additional applications they can use to overcome Twitter’s ever-present shortcomings. People spread themselves across a number of tools and maintain different networks on each (large portions of which they don’t even know), making it nearly impossible to decide what to share and with whom.

Users, marketers, and companies face an incredible amount of noise, too. For every new application that relies on a network, another crops up that helps users manage it. While “eyeballs” used to be the coveted metric, both ad publishers and investors now realize that having smaller well-targeted niches can lead to much better returns than marketing to one large undifferentiated mass of users.

Meaning and connection — two key anchors of all things social media — are corroding by the day as people’s ability to organize their experiences and find the relevance of their networks declines. Social media, in essence, is bumping up against its own ceiling, no longer able to serve the needs of those living within its walls; and for these reasons, social media as we know it is changing course.

With all the great excitement of social media lately, yes, they are right. It is noisy and messy, filled with an endless array of tools and gadgets.

So what needs to change? Again, some of ReadWrite Web’s top thoughts as social media continues to evolve:

1) It’s About People. We’re moving away from “users,” “customers,” and “shoppers”: social media is bringing back the human element to all digital interaction.

2) Creating Meaning and Value.
Social media will no longer be about features and applications. These have become a dime a dozen. People will be looking to get tangible and relevant value out of their social experience; they’ll be looking for meaning and for order.

3) Enabling Convergence.
People are at a loss when it comes to pulling their conversations together from various sources and assigning meaning to them.

4) Building a Truly Cross-Platform Experience. In the new landscape of social media, people are seeking solutions that seamlessly cut across mobile, web, and live interaction.

5) Creating Relevant Social Networks. People will create, join, and seek social networks that enable them to have meaningful and relevant experiences with each other. They will measure their return on investment (time spent, level of disclosure, etc.) in replies, comments, their ability to influence, and the value of their learning.

6) Innovating in the Advertising Space. Ad publishers and the attached ecosystem will continue to lose revenue until they realign their understanding of what appeals to people who are conversing, connecting, and expressing. The next phase of social media is a gold mine of targeted niche demographics.

7) Helping People Organize Their “Old” Social Media Ecosystem. As aggregating platforms enter the field, people will seek to bring order to the endless bits of information available to them. Video tagging, conversation archiving, taking cloud computing to the next stage, and making search more relevant are some of the new baseline requirements. These represent a significant opportunity for companies willing to undertake this massive endeavor.

8) Connecting with the Rest of the US and the World.
With some exceptions, today’s active social media users are early adopters. In the next one to two years, the benefits of social media will cross the chasm and reach the mainstream.

9) Preparing for New Social Media Jobs.
Social media’s new job descriptions will call on subject-matter experts who can plan for relevant interaction within networks and aggregating platforms and bring together products, services, and people.

10) Making Money.
The next phase of social media will bring plenty of lucrative opportunities. With the rise of aggregating platforms, social networks, and new mobile and location-based features, we’re bound to see an increase in targeted and personalized ads, “freemium” packaging, revenue sharing between strategic partners, and a flow from the offline world to online social engagement (such as when real goods complement virtual ones).

While this year be the year social media and “making money” converge successfully? Or is that still years away?

Get Approval First: A Few Good Creative Men

New media challenges the power and effectiveness of traditional advertising. One thing remains true when deciding which brand building platform to use: make sure you get your approvals first before you “court” public opinion and spend those ad dollars.

Media Buyers: Why 40-59 Year Olds Still Should Matter

Quick: which demographic has collective disposable income estimated at about $2 trillion a year…and yet are considered secondary targets by marketers and media buyers?

If you are a Baby Boomer, you’re used to being the center of marketing attention. You expect it, since it’s been that way most of your life. Today, though, you might be feeling a bit jilted. You…and more than 86 million “mature” consumers. Since the turn of the millennium, media buyers have shifted their advertising dollars more and more to younger consumers…especially to today’s teens and other Echo Boomers.

Of course, the marketing game has long been a youth game. And 18-49 clearly is important. The “big generation” Boomers made sure of it.

Still, Baby Boomers represent more than 25% of the today’s population in both the U.S. and Canada (down from 40% in 1967). Traditional media buying beliefs states the strongest marketing ROI comes from younger consumers still-moldable for brand building opportunities. It is believed older, smarter, wiser Boomer consumers are less susceptible to marketing messages.


Do you really think Boomers are ready to retire and become irrelevant?

Baby Boomers have money, they aren’t afraid to spend it and their minds aren’t locked on life-long brands. They want content and marketing geared for them. And they can be influenced, too.

Here’s why:

More than three-quarters of advertising buys for all media today targets consumers younger than 49. The only major media buys that are “boomer friendly” are newspapers and magazines (to a lesser extent).

TV, radio, the Internet, billboards, etc…they all seem to consider Boomers less “valuable” than 18-49s, teens or younger…even though Boomers remain heavy users of all media.

This means there is over-saturation of “young” media messages (especially on TV, the Internet and even radio). Since Boomers are getting targeted less, they also have fewer marketing messages “in their zone”.

What do they see or hear?

Ads on retirement, pension plans, vacations, Big Pharma and Depends.

Come on now!

These are Boomers. They only started turning 60 this year. And they strongly want to hold onto whatever youth they still have. They mostly still need to earn a living and probably will keep working at least another 7-10 years. They are healthier and wealthier than any generation previously in this age demo.

And, surprise, the “aging” baby boom generation still LOVE media — including new media and the latest gadgets, embracing the Internet, high-speed and everything related to it.

A new national study by BoomerEyes found:

• Nearly 40% of those with kids said they’re now “Empty Nesters”;

• In addition to having the time to do what they want and when, the Empty Nesters also report financial freedom. On average, they said they have $315 more per month to spend;

• Some 71% of 50-64 year olds and 84% of 30-49 year olds report high Internet usage. Even among those 65 and over, regular Net usage is reported by 32%;

• Boomers who took the online survey say they most often shop online for travel (58%), books (57%), clothes (57%) and electronics (50%).

Echos reverberate. Could Baby Boomers attract back marketing attention as Reverse Echo Boomers? This new advertising “generational gap” represents a massive opportunity. What are you doing to tap into it?