Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Lucky at Your Service

Personally I’m a big fan of the iPhone and shopping. So, when Lucky Magazine (which I also happen to be a fan of) found a way to combine shopping and the iPhone, I was intrigued.

Early last week, Lucky released an app called “Lucky at Your Service” which essentially acts as a virtual personal shopper, and checks the inventories of your local stores. The catch? The only merchandise currently available within the app are shoes featured within the March edition of Lucky Magazine. Perfect if you love shoes, not so perfect if you were looking to snag a handbag or a myriad of other items featured within the pages of Lucky.

At this time, the app is free to download and according to the New York Times:

Lucky […] has even hired a call center, staffed with 20 to 200 representatives, who will confirm that the shoe is available and set it aside, text-messaging a shopper that, say, Jessie in the second-floor salon shoe department at the downtown Nordstrom has set it aside.

In their article, NYT also addresses a valid point: in an economy where few people are shopping, is an iPhone app that targets shoppers, really a formula for success? My answer: if they incorporate some sort of “sale alert” mechanism, then yes.

Lucky At Your Service

Lucky At Your Service

Lucky is one of the few publications that can successfully pull off a mobile application like this, in an economy like this, and that’s due in large part, to their core demographic: shoppers.

Lucky is, and always has been, a magazine targeted towards people who love to shop.

The entire magazine reads like a giant advertisement, and positions itself as the ultimate shopping guide. People who subscribe to Lucky are people who like to shop– they’re not just in it for the fashion, like people who subscribe to other fashion or style magazines. When you couple this with the fact that readers of Lucky actually enjoy shopping, and statistically have more money to “burn” than their average Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Elle, and Glamour counterparts, it makes sense. Releasing a social application like Lucky At Your Service targets this specific demographic in an incredibly unique way, and caters to a niche audience while providing a useful service that no other magazine has done. In addition to this, Lucky has found a way to keep their magazine relevant: by tying in the application to the magazine itself, as opposed to the website, they are promoting consumption of their “bread and butter” as opposed to a free resource, like the website.

And to that, I say kudos– and happy shopping. Now, if they’d only expand it to at least include handbags and other critical “accessory” items, I’d be happy.

Social Media: Conversation for the greater good

A friend of mine used to work for the Los Angeles County Department of Health and would often tell me about their proposed initiatives and how they were working on new ways to spread the message about health issues using social media.

Like many companies, they followed the typical route:  creating a MySpace page and/or a YouTube channel, and would regularly publish content. However, unlike most companies, any Health company or Department has the added luxury of having to sell a “product” that is often incredibly “unsexy,” which often results in lower CTRs and a harder sell. They also bear the burden of marketing a product that people are often unable to interact with or, in some cases, are ashamed to interact with.

Think back. How often do you scan the internet, looking for the latest public service announcements? Probably never. And, if you’re like most people, if you do see one on TV, online, or anywhere else, you probably don’t talk about it with your friends or family because it just doesn’t have the same “appeal” as talking about the latest movie trailer or tv show you watched, right? For the few of you who said that you DO actually talk about the PSAs you see on TV with someone you know, 9/10 chance that the PSA you watched had to do with drugs or alcohol. And the person you talked to? Your child/parent/dependent, right?

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It’s all about the STRATEGY

True “experts” like Robert Scoble and Chris Brogan have argued that the term “social media expert” is, for most people, a moot title– a point I agree with. In an industry that’s constantly changing, it’s impossible to be an expert in a field that has no predefined boundaries. (Perhaps the only exceptions are Scoble and Brogan, who have proven themselves champions in multiple battles, though the war has hardly been fought). 

With that being said, it comes as no surprise that an article published on cnet today discusses just that: the title, and role, of the social media “expert.” The article, which covers the high ticket price many social media-ites demand(ed) points out many of the flaws many companies are seeing in their current social media “strategy.”

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The Emerging Role: Community Manager

I previously worked for a start-up called, Passenger, where I was as a Community Manager for brands like Nike, JcPenney, and ABC. While at Passenger  I posted to the company blog about the role of a Community Manager. Though the post remains mostly relevant, it does read much like an advertisement (ironic since at the time I clearly remember trying to ensure that it didn’t feel like an ad, but instead embraced the voice of the company, just as any Community Manager would do.) 

I’ve included my post below, and have amended it slightly to reflect my current views, noted in purple

Please note, that this was written while working for Passenger, not Yahoo!, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the company at this time. 

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Practice what you preach

When I attended Graduate school at USC I started to go through the steps of having my thesis published, mostly because I thought it would bring me fame, fortune, and a great job. (Clearly I had no concept of how many people actually read a thesis. For those of you in Graduate school, it’s about as many people as you have fingers on your hands. Advisor, parent(s), significant other, editor, and maybe a roommate). 

Midway through the submission process I stopped because I realized I was losing my mind, and publishing my thesis on paper didn’t really embrace what I had written. My thesis was on User-Generated Content and Viral Media, and it’s Impact on Broadcast and Marketing. I was committed to the fact that the topic was changing, so the medium should be changing. (In retrospect, that’s oh so McLuhan of me).

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Pottery Barn: Where’s your Community?

Back in July I bought my first place– a purchase that has completely changed the way I shop. Now, instead of only perusing stores and websites for jeans, tops, and accessories, I find myself checking out the home section too. I’m excited by looking at paint swatches and watching HGTV’s “My First Place” and seeing how others “pull it all together.” And right now, I’m also quietly obsessed with Pottery Barn. 

Pottery Barn‘s website is pretty robust– they have a “Style House” section that features videos, design tips “for every room,” design tools, and heck, they even have a “furniture facts” section– where you can learn about your new sectional. But what their site lacks is a community element– something that surprised me. Continue reading

Review: Ogilvy’s “The Daily Influence”

Move over, Radian6, there’s a new Social Media tracking tool on the block, and it’s from Ogilvy Public Relations.

TDIAnnounced today, “The Daily Influence” (TDI) has a similar look and feel to Radian6’s tool, but has one major difference: for the moment, it’s free. Yep, you read that right. Though Radian6 still scours more of the internet to find all of your brand’s mentions, and provides actual metrics, the Oglivy tool is a great resource for smaller companies looking to consolidate their efforts.

In the customizable “Listening Post,” users can edit fields to represent their product, brand, or service and TDI provides an aggregated look at all mentions of that product, service, or feature on the internet. I updated my view (in the screenshot below) to reflect a common search I used to make: Yahoo messenger. The site quickly pulled up combined mentions of Yahoo messenger. Currently, the tool utilizes Twitter searches, image searches (Flickr, Google, Pixsy, Zoomr), video searches (YouTube, Metacafe, MySpace, Blip.tv), Delicious, blog searches (Technorati, Google, Blogged, Sphere), and more. Continue reading

Obama: change online

Back in November I posted about the Obama campaign hiring a Community Manager to drive their online strategy post-presidential campaign. Since then, the Obama team has launched Change.gov, which the Washington Post describes as:

a transition Web site launched two days after Obama won, a constant stream of information is doled out. You can watch YouTube videos of transition staffers. You can track meetings between the transition team and outside groups, which provide searchable documents online (and allow visitors to leave comments for the team). You can post questions in the “Open for Questions” feature, where submitted questions are voted to the top by other users. In its first week, the feature got 978,868 votes on 10,302 questions from 20,468 people.

The site does a great job of tapping into the hype and political interest surrounding Obama, and makes it easy for users to get information. Americans can sign up for targeted email updates by entering their email address and zip code, can submit questions, search for information, and of course, share their own personal testimonial.

obamaquestionsHowever, the site runs into a potential problem when it comes to tone: unlike the Obama campaign itself, the Change.gov site remains incredibly formal in its tone. The Washington Post notes that one of the responses found on the site, written by Obama’s team is stiff: “President-elect Obama is a strong supporter of Federal funding for responsible stem cell research and he has pledged to reverse President Bush’s restrictions.”

The site also lacks the ability for users to connect directly to one another– a grassroots initiative that could prove to be incredibly lucrative for both the economy and for the Obama camp. Developing meaningful bonds through shared interests enables people to connect on a different level, and also provides a stronger, deeper connection with the connectee– in this case, the Obama camp.

All in all, I’m so pleased to see that Obama has taken his online popularity seriously, and is finding new and unique ways of embracing policy and politics. I only hope that as the year progresses we’ll see even more ways of communicating with the new President (his Twitter stream has been quiet since his victory) and new ways of shaping policy.

Alexander Hamilton once said “the masses are asses”– and for a long time, I agreed. But right now, I’m optimistic that with the right tools, we can all learn and create a brighter future and prove one of our founding father’s wrong.

Koobface: Facebook’s Latest Battle

facebookEarlier this week my Facebook inbox greeted me with a friendly mail notification, from a long lost “friend” whom I haven’t spoken to in ages. In the email, was a link, telling me I look awesome in this video.

At first I was flattered. I mean, who wouldn’t be? A long-lost friend managed to find me, tape me, and somehow managed to capture my “awesomeness” in a video? It seemed too good to be true. And, it also seemed like a hoax.

By now, we’re all familiar with the MySpace viruses– so much so that Tom and his crew over at FIM have had to warn you (Facebook has followed suit) whenever you are clicking a link that takes you off their site. It only seemed like a matter of time before Facebook got hit with their first real gem of a virus– and it’s name is Koobface.

PC World writer, Brennon Slattery describes the virus’ behavior:

Once the URL is clicked, “Koobface” prompts you to update your Flash player before the video can be displayed. Therein lies the virus, cloaked in a “flash_player.exe” file. According to the Kaspersky Lab, an antivirus organization working closely with Facebook, “the worms transform victim machines into zombie computers to form botnets.”

The McAfee Security Blog explains that when “Koobface” infects your computer, it prompts a downloaded service named Security Accounts Manager (SamSs) to load on start-up. SamSs then proxies all HTTP traffic, stealing results from popular search engines and hijacking them to lesser-known search sites.

For many users, “Koobface” will come as a wake-up call about internet safety. Many of us go about our daily internet lives convinced we know which sites are safe– and, I’d bet you’d be hard pressed to find a user who thinks MySpace is safer than Facebook– but all it takes is a few clicks for a your personal computer (and information) to become a thing of the past. Who knows, maybe will double as the perfect opportunity to remove all those pseudo-friends on your Facebook friends list, you know, just to reduce the risk of infection.

For Hire: Community Manager for Obama?

Josh Bernoff over at Forrester posted an interesting blog today on Groundswell about Obama’s victory. Bernoff calls for Obama to continue the use of social media within politics, and to even go so far as to hire a US Community Manager to facilitate the relationship between citizens and policy makers.

To me, this sounds like both an amazingly great and an amazingly horrible idea. Here’s why:

I’m all for Obama continuing to mobilize the younger audience he has captive on social networks and in various new media outlets, but am worried about fraud and cyber bullying. As so many of us know, the internet is hardly a stable or safe environment, and opening up the political system to something like this makes it extremely susceptible to fraud. If the US Government can find a way to validate and authenticate users in a legitimate way (one vote per user) so that it’s not the voice of the few, its the voices of the many, then I’m all for it. The last thing I want is my country being driven by a bunch of irrational users who don’t accurately reflect the rest of the country.

How would this be staffed? What type of credentials would a CM need to have to be the Community Manager for the United States? Clearly they’d need at least a little background in Public Policy to ensure that they even know what they’re talking about. And to be honest, how is this all that different than having congressional representatives in each area? Why not make each Rep an online community instead? Why recreate the wheel and make it a nationwide issue when we could easily keep things localized and find more success.

All in all, I think it’s for the most part, a great idea. Tapping into this resource would be a fantastic way to maintain Obama’s momentum, but it has to be done delicately. If not, Obama runs the risk of looking like a fool.