Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Tag

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.

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Huggies & JWT: Online Advertising Done Right

Back in July/August of 2008, Huggies launched an ad campaign aptly called “Geyser,” which featured a young father carrying his son into a bedroom for a changing, and then, well, being “hosed” down by a “geyser” of, well, you get the idea. The commercial was a hit online, and according to an article by BrandWeek, published in August of 2008, the ad received 1.3 million aggregate views on sites like “YouTube, Spike and Meetup.com.”

As of late, the commercial has reappeared on cable television as well (initially I thought it was a Superbowl advertisement, which caused me to research the ad– I hadn’t come across it online). While researching the ad, I not only came across the initial advertisement, but also a “mockumentary” entitled, “Inside the Diaper.”

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Forbes Publishes Top Twitter Celebs: Omits Women

forbes-logo-largeToday, Forbes published an article on the “Top Twitter Celebrities”– featuring the names of both online and offline stars. The lists, which are broken down into two categories: Celebrities (10 on this list) and the Most Influential Twitterers (10 on this list).  The two lists feature a total of two women: Britney Spears and Tina Fey– both in the celebrity category. The parent Twitter article also features a link to The Web Celeb 25, a list which features only one woman– Heather Armstrong.

Let’s take a quick look at Forbes’ selections for females: in one corner, we have a pop-princess (who doesn’t actually tweet herself– her “people” do it for her– we know because they sign the tweets) and a comedian, who tweets sporadic, but funny messages. As a whole, these women neither define the product nor the “active”demographic that Forbes was going for.

According to a Time article, back in August 2008, Twitter’s userbase was rougly 63% male, and 25.9% of the site’s users are between the age of 35-44. (Be sure to read Time’s article for great demographic information on the types of people who use Twitter– it’s not who you’d think).

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Hiring trend: Social media– contractor?

With the economy in dire straits, it seems as though many companies are turning to hiring on social media strategists as consultants instead of full-time,  full-salary (and benefits) roles. Though this is a bitter-sweet turn of events for the social media field, it’s also a great opportunity for true pros to prove their worth, all while having the flexibility of bouncing from company to company.

Why this is good for social media: By continuing to offer positions (though they’re contract positions) it proves that companies are still willing to spend some of their limited budget on social efforts, and understand their value. By offering the position as a contract role, the company is able to save on their end by not having to pay for pesky things like benefits and contributing to your 401k.

Why this isn’t good for social media: By failing to completely integrate a team member into a brand or company, that team member (or in this case, social media strategist) isn’t given the opportunity to truly embrace the brand in a way a “full time” employee might. They’re also (potentially) seen as a much more expendable line-item in the company’s budget. Continue reading

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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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

Twitter: please monetize your site

I’ll be up front about my age: I’m 24, and some of my most formidable childhood memories surround technology. I clearly remember crafting my first AOL screen name in 4th grade and finding ways to manipulate new technologies to my advantage before people really understood their repercussions (Napster, anyone?). I’m what they like to call a “digital native”– binary is mixed evenly with my DNA, and I thrive on new technology. 

Perhaps that’s why I’m so perplexed by Twitter and it’s counterintuitive ways. 

Sure, I’ve blogged about it before. Who hasn’t? It’s all the rage, and hey, who wouldn’t be– it’s quickly becoming more “mainstream”– it’s being mentioned more and more often by celebrities, major news sources, and even TV shows, so it’s no surprise that sooner or later a larger portion of the technically savvy population will jump on the Twitter bandwagon. As of 01/01/09, there’s an average of 1:4 stories on Google News about Twitter: Facebook. That’s a fair amount of “hype.”  And oh, hey, look at that– at the bottom of a Twitter news search on Google, Facebook comes up as a related search term. Ironic.

Hopefully all the “hype” will help the Twitter team develop a feasible business model that is sustainable and provides a non-invasive way of making money of their audience– BEFORE they truly become “mainstream.” Because let’s be honest– no one wants to stay a “start-up” for forever. Case in point? Tonight/yesterday/the past day’s “hash-tag” chat session on Twitter. 

Twitter trendingIt’s my understanding that it all started with a simple post by Warren Whitlock on his blog, where he encouraged users/readers to “Subscribe to this blog, follow me on Twitter and watch my twitter stream and the hash tag #Happy09for more on the Happy New Year Gift giveaway.” Seems simple enough. Hash tags (#happy09) are common trending tools on Twitter, and are a great way to see what’s going on within the Twitterverse. A quick visit to search.twitter.com shows you a sidebar with the current trends to the right. 

If you’re bored, or interested, you can follow one of the trending topics by clicking on the hyperlink and watching the conversation within the search window. Or, if you’re a more avid trender, you can use a tool like TweetGrid or TweetChat— both of which will track and refresh the conversations/trends you’re interested in. 

As to be expected, most conversations move at a relatively slow to moderate pace. However, this wasn’t the case with the #happy09 hash tag– instead, the conversation moved at a lightning fast pace, reminiscent of old AOL or Yahoo! chat rooms–  long before the bots invaded them, and before people truly understood the technology and talked aimlessly at random people. 

The ambiguous hash tag had an incredible viral propensity– users quickly followed one another,and shared their wishes for the new year. In turn, their followers inquired about the #happy09 tag, and started using it themselves, and the conversation grew to exponential proportions. 

hashtagAnswer

I read the #happy09 messages for quite a while– participating some of the time, but most of the time, noticing trends. There were a lot of moms tweeting, a lot of moms who homeschool their kids, and quite a few people using Twitter to creatively network. I saw one woman using it to find potential employees, another woman using it to help another person find a job (she’s a recruiter, the other person was looking for a new position), a networking event, and several people promoting their own skills/trades/abilities to a broad audience. I even saw “rival” trending tag (they were #4 at one point in the day/night), #tcot using the #happy09 tag to promote their interests. (By the way, all of this made me ecstatic– I love seeing technology being used to connect people in meaningful ways). 

Oh, what a viable marketing opportunity this would have been for Twitter, TweetGrid or TweetChat. The number of impressions on the #happy09 tag is clearly quite high, and any advertiser would have probably had a pretty successful click-through conversion rate on any number of ads within any of the platforms. And to think, if Twitter were to take it a step further and would index/register each Twitter user’s tweets with Google for crawling, the amount of page returns/searches based on each tweet and potential ad could be phenomenal. 

There are plenty of instances where hastags don’t take off the way that #happy09 did, but it doesn’t mean that Twitter couldn’t find a way to monetize them. Companies like Coke, Pepsi, etc could pay to “own” these hash tags, and configure a “boomerang” type tweet that is enabled any time a user mentions these brands or uses the hashtag or the product name in conjunction with a few other key “buzzwords”– this would set off an automatic ad “retweet” or the “boomerang” effect, where the user would then see an ad within their interface pertaining to that specific product. With the right algorithm, that’s targeted, contextual marketing at its best.  

Pepsi

Until Twitter comes up with a clear monetization strategy, they’re going to continue to miss out on opportunities like tonight, and they run the risk of growing too large and running too “clean” (aka ad free) of a site before they make the change, and will end up just like Napster and AOL. A has been.

Flip shuts down

Flip.com, a Conde-Nast creation has announced that it’s closing its doors toFlipday. The site, which was targeted towards teens and tweens, and encouraged users to make online photo albums/scrap books is officially shutting down on December 16th.

If you have anything on Flip.com, now’s the time to save it, or pull it down.

The recession/economy not only kills jobs, it kills creativity too.

You just got Rick-Roll’d!

How many times has it happened to you– you hop on YouTube to check out the latest spoiler, clip, trailer, or viral video and can’t wait for it to start. But then, out of the blue, you get Rick-Roll’d.

(Check out a great parody of Peter Griffin from Family Guy getting Rick-Roll’d, below)

SurveyUSA estimates that over 18 million people have been Rick-Roll’d, but the option of using a Rick Astley song seems to be an ironic, yet hilarious one.  The internet (and YouTube in particular) is one of the greatest resources for nostalgia purposes– revamping old cartoons, tv shows, and clips from movies (today on Hulu.com, the movie Ghostbusters is in the top 20 most watched), and encourages big media giants to speed up the process of sending classic TV programs to DVD (or at least to sites like Hulu.com).

With all these trips down memory lane, it makes you wonder– why are people surprised that it’s becoming more and more common for pop music to sample classics and 80s hits? If we’re all clamoring for scenes from the 70’s, 80’s and beyond, why would industry execs bother recreating some of the wheel? Instead, corporations are trying to discover new ways to market old material– does anyone else feel like Nick-at-Nite is about to hit primetime?