Archive | February, 2011

How Influenced Should You Be by the Rising Obsession With ‘Social Influencers’?

A Look at the Supposed Influencers Driving Conversation Around Five Brands: Audi, Bugaboo, ‘Mad Men,’ ‘American Idol’ and Maker’s Mark

Since the ancient, early days of social media, people have been obsessed with certain numbers as expressed in almost existential questions: How many people should I follow on Twitter? Are enough people following me? Should I accept friend requests from strangers — not to mention high-school classmates I haven’t thought of in ages — to pad out my Facebook social circle?

Lately, everybody’s been obsessing about yet another number — a sort of meta number that is meant to tally your “social influence,” particularly on Twitter. Among the players in the influence-rating space: Klout (known for its notorious Klout Score), PeerIndex and Twitalyzer, while companies like PeopleBrowsr offer integrated solutions: ways to identify influencers (“Find Your Brand Champions”) and means to further engage them.

Who's leading the discussion of these brands?
Who’s leading the discussion of these brands?

As my colleague David Teicher wrote in Ad Age’s DigitalNext blog last September, some marketers are looking at social-influence scores to determine whether they offer special perks to customers (e.g., hotel room upgrades). Confoundingly, though, all the influence-grading companies use secret algorithms to judge you. In fact, given how ridiculously divergent influence scores tend to be — one service can give you a high score, while another decides you’re basically a social loser — you might decide the whole influence-ranking phenomenon is a questionable racket.

Of course, all the companies insist that there are well-thought-out processes behind their parsing of various data, including how often you’re retweeted, the relative influence of your followers, etc. Some of the influence-tracking companies also attempt to quantify your social influence elsewhere, including on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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How Social Media Stole Your Mind, Took Advertising With It

And Now, a Tweet From Your Sponsor: With Multitasking Stretching Cognitive Capacity, Are Messages That Drive Marketing Meaningless?

Despite all our enthusiasms for the millennium, I remain a stalwart child of the ’80s, the period when media underwent a mass detonation; when for the first time in human history a very large number of devices coincided in a relatively short period of time; when cable TV, personal computers, video-game consoles, VHS and pagers, cellphones and the internet all came to live under single roofs.

And so I often find myself immune or perhaps just mildly annoyed by declarations of technology’s mounting assault on humanity, of nostalgic cries against Facebook, Foursquare, Xbox, Netflix, HDTV, laptop, tablet, smartphones and e-readers. I have them all, and I use them all, and I like them all. So what’s the bother, exactly?

Putting aside, for the moment, what all that input may be doing to our brains, as well as the integrity of the commons, there is the very practical matter of media and marketing. The stakes amount to nothing less than the $151 billion advertisers spent in this country last year trying to get the attention of 308 million citizens — all of whom appear to be getting more and more distracted by the various media that continue to proliferate under advertising’s largess. It’s a recursive knot: As advertisers spend more, they extend media’s restless tentacles, thus distracting us to the point where marketers have to spend yet more dollars to regain our attention, only then to re-animate media’s reach with all its accompanying commotions, and … are you distracted yet?

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Word-of-mouth marketing offers students rewards

A new word-of-mouth marketing program promises students a chance to earn rewards while they promote brands and products on social networking sites.

University Rep, or UREP, touts itself on its website as “one of the most effective word-of-mouth marketing platforms available.”

Students sign up to be “freelance marketers” and then post about brands and local businesses on their Facebook or Twitter profiles on their own time. After completing marketing activities, students can earn points they can cash in.

“A lot of people do it anyways,” said John Storey, a senior from Eden who is one of two BYU students working with UREP currently. “You’re getting paid to do something you do anyway.”

People often talk about businesses online, and marketers see social media as an integral and natural part of their marketing strategy.

“If I have a good experience with a brand or product, I tweet about it to give them a shout out,” said Stephanie Grimes, a senior from Sacramento, Calif.

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The Finer Details of Administering Facebook Pages

Last month, we published the first in a new series that addresses the finer details of administering Facebook Pages. The idea is to help you move beyond the Facebook Page 101-type articles that focus on the broad stroke instructions for getting started and dive into the nitty gritty of day-to-day community management. Drawing on the questions we hear most frequently from new Page admins, I’ll highlight some of the functional nuances of engaging with users on Facebook Pages.

Part 1 covered:

  • Distinctions between accounts, profiles and pages.
  • The differences between posting as yourself and posting as a brand.
  • Tagging individuals and Pages in status updates.
  • A few of our favorite Facebook Page 101 resources.

Today, I’ll dive into post targeting, wall view filters, the photostrip and private messaging. So, without further ado…

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Brands Look to Engage Social Networkers at the Oscars

In keeping with James Franco and Anne Hathaway’s winking debut on Sunday night as the younger, hipper hosts of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, brands that will be advertising during Sunday night’s Super Bowl of cinema will also reach out to younger, digitally savvy audiences.

The biggest tactic, of course: incorporating social media into their campaigns. It makes sense: in terms of ratings, reach, buzz and impact, including watercooler chatter the morning after, the Oscars is still one of the biggest TV and cultural events of the year. And many of those viewers will be plugged-in while watching — even more so than during the Super Bowl.

According to Nielsen, about 13.3% of Oscar viewers toggled between TV and the web last year, a multiscreen viewing experience that rose from 8.7% in 2009. And when you consider that 30-second commercial spots during the Academy Awards this year are going for between $1.7 and $1.8 million, social media is a natural means for brands to build up to and expand on the Oscars conversation.

Brands leveraging social marketing at this year’s Oscars include:

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Alumni-created company makes students business reps

REPRESENT: Annie Wechter and Ben Levy are ASU UREPs (University Representatives) interning with Brand Adoption this semester. They work to bring students together with local businesses in order to increase brand awareness through word-of-mouth and social media campaigns. (Photo courtesy of Brand Adoption)For three ASU alumni, the best marketing campaign doesn’t involve million-dollar commercials or flashy billboards. Their strategy is simply talking to friends.

Last March, industrial engineering graduates Evan Rogers and Tim Holladay and marketing graduate Don May decided to build a company around an idea — something they call the “word of mouth market.”

Their company, Brand Adoption, hires college students and others around the country to conduct small marketing campaigns for corporations and businesses.

For these campaigns, the workers use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to post on their friends’ pages and send tweets about the company they are promoting. The employees will also go out on campuses, set up tables and hand out fliers for the company.

Employees are hired through the Brand Adoption’s marketing platform, University Rep. The program’s workers are known as UREPs.

“[UREP] has become extremely well received, better than we hoped,” Rogers said. “We’re trying to grow this thing and we’re really doing it through word of mouth.”

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‘Organic’ SXSW Blogger Buzz? More Like Marketing Astroturf

Failure to Comply With FTC Rules Could Put Some on Wrong Side of Law

A lot of the buzz that has turned the South by Southwest festival into a media monster has been paid for and delivered by the big brands that sponsor it.

SXSW in Austin is one of the biggest conferences of the year for techies, filmmakers and musicians. Even the part of the conference known as SXSW Interactive — previously geared at tech geeks and internet junkies — is now a major mainstream production, with sponsors such as Miller Lite, Chevrolet and PepsiCo. And while there are plenty of old-school journalists there to cover the buzz, there are any number of bloggers sent specifically by corporate sponsors to help build buzz.

Attending SXSW is expensive. And this is where the brands come in — they have the cash and want coverage of whatever it is they’re doing. After all, if it isn’t blogged, Facebooked or tweeted, then it didn’t happen.

Ethical, professional and legal considerations come into play when there is an exchange of buzz for money, and could even hurt the credibility of some bloggers who want to be taken seriously. And then there is the matter of disclosure.

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With ‘Little Vader,’ Eminem, Super Bowl Ads Reach 230 Million Web Views

With ‘Little Vader,’ Eminem, Super Bowl Ads Reach 230 Million Web Views

Super Bowl spots continue to rake in big numbers on the Viral Video Chart, two weeks after the game. Volkswagen’s “The Force” racked up another 3.5 million views last week, bringing its total nearly 36 million since the video was posted the week before the Super Bowl.

Chrysler’s “Imported From Detroit” starring Eminem also held steady at No. 2 with 2.5 million, bringing its total to more than 11.7 million views, according to cumulative numbers from Visible Measures and YouTube. Super Bowl ads have been viewed a staggering 230 million times over the past 10 days. As we noted last week, that’s valuable media exposure that helps offset the $3 million cost of a Super Bowl spot.

Interestingly, Doritos’ 2011 “Crash the Super Bowl” revived interest in its 2010 campaign; both are on the chart this week. Also interesting: Chart stalwarts Evian and Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” pushed their way back onto the chart amid the Super Bowl madness. The Old Spice guy returned with a new spot, “Scent Vacation,” supported by a contest, the “I’m Back” video and two new videos that have spurred a handful of copy and derivative clips.

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Foursquare Exploring Content, Automatic Check-ins

CEO Dennis Crowley Talks to Ad Age About Creating Location-Specific Content and Checking-in by Touch

On the heels of the Mobile World Congress, Ad Age sat down with Foursquare CEO and co-founder Dennis Crowley to pick his brain about badges, game mechanics and the latest developments in mobile technology that could make check-ins automatic for users.

Foursquare isn’t about making everything a game, but it is about making everyday actions more fun, including learning about your physical environment. Part of that is making Foursquare more seamless to use, and the company is exploring how wireless near-field technology could allow users to “check-in” at a location just by touching their phones to a physical object at a location. Mr. Crowley said the startup is working on ways to integrate content — historical events or factoids — the users can discover while using the service.

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How You Roll When You’re a Girl Scout Selling Cookies at Facebook

Using Technology and Some Nice Real Estate to Sell 400 Boxes An Hour

You think you know about Silicon Valley, but you have no idea. Even the Girls Scouts here are different. When the time of year comes around for Girl Scout cookies, there’s no walking door-to-door, lugging boxes of Thin Mints. Here, thanks to Facebook events, an iPhone and Twitter-founder Jack Dorsey’s payment service Square, tech-advanced 9-year-olds can sell 400 boxes in less than an hour. Because when you’re a Girl Scout in Silicon Valley, that’s how you roll.

Facebook’s global policy manager Jud Hoffman told a few people at work that his daughter Greta and a couple of her friends would be selling the cookies. So many people wanted to buy them that he decided to set up a Facebook event. That way, his colleagues wouldn’t miss the girls when they stopped by the famed Palo Alto office of the biggest social network in the world.

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