Social Media

Marketing in an Online Age

online-marketingIt’s becoming increasingly obvious that strategic online marketing is a vital part of successful businesses today. Whether it’s an interactive website, a viral campaign via YouTube, a Facebook page, or a Twitter account, companies are doing whatever it takes to keep up with the changing technology.

But it seems like many companies are falling into the trap of using the innovations of today with the mindset of yesterday. To that end, they might post regular updates to their Twitter account, but there is a line of red tape, approvals, and edits that are undertaken before any of that content hits the internet. Social media and online marketing, however, is all about instant communication. It’s about human interaction, which means for companies the ability to talk on a personal level with their customers.

But by closely censoring, monitoring, tweaking, and tailoring the content in these social venues, nothing appear genuine to the customer (or potential customer). Customers are savvy to when they are reading something that’s been worked over by a professional, and it puts them automatically on alert. We’re trained to basically dismiss anything we hear or see in more traditional forms of marketing such as television commercials, print ads, radio spots, or anything else. Through years of inundation, we’re trained to believe that an advertisement will say anything to get customers interested in the product, even if it’s not true.

But there isn’t that associated jadedness with online marketing (as of yet, anyway). When done right, there is a ring of honesty, truth, humanity, and personality in the messages through these venues. And this is exactly what’s often lacking in much of the generic ad copy created through the more traditional (or “old”) means.
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Contested Iranian Election Prompts Information Lockdown

iranian-protestsAlthough the Iranian presidential election between Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took place on June 12, unrest still rocks the city. Boasting an 85 percent voter turnout, Ahmadinejad was reelected to the surprise of the citizens and experts who predicted Moussavi would easily take the election. The unexpected outcome prompted protestors and outraged citizens to not only claim a rigged election but to also take to the streets in protest.

Calling for a reelection, the protestors grew simultaneously bolder and more frantic as the situation erupted into violence. Basij is believed to be responsible for the majority of this violence, including the deaths of seven protestors. Basij is a paramilitary force taking its order from the Revolutionary Guard, an enforcer of stringent Islamic codes.

News coverage of the protests, however, is limited and sketchy at best. This is primarily due to the statements of the Revolutionary Guard, who have threatened to prosecute any foreign media outlet reporting on the ongoing crisis.

They have also threatened any website reporting on the incident, claiming that the dissemination of this information will further incite riots—an argument utilized by many regimes trying to tightly control and spin the spread of information to their citizens and the world.
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Social Media Turns on Letterman

letterman-palinAs is so often the case with David Letterman, it all started with a stupid joke. While on air, Letterman made some comments regarding former vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin and her daughter attending a New York Yankees baseball game. Palin and her 14-year-old daughter had attended the game, after which Letterman joked that Palin’s daughter was “knocked up” by baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez during the seventh inning stretch. Letterman was obviously referring to Palin’s 18-year-old daughter, who recently gave birth to a son.

But the joke was widely misinterpreted. As such, people thought that Letterman was referring to Palin’s younger daughter, and the backlash was swift. Many people were disappointed, outraged, or otherwise disgusted by Letterman’s joke. Michael Patrick Leahy was particularly upset, prompting him to tell FOXNews, “It is highly inappropriate for a 62-year-old man to make sexual insults about a 14-year-old girl.”

Utilizing the venues available to him, Leahy became a co-founder of FireDavidLetterman.com. The site provided a platform for similarly outraged viewers to connect and organize. In particular, they organized a rally calling for the termination of Letterman due to his “disgraceful statements.”

The site also offers a place to add your name and email address in order to let CBS know that you will not purchase any CBS sponsored product until Letterman gets the ax.
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Trent Reznor Lashes Out Against Twitter

trent-reznorWhile it’s been awhile since Nine Inch Nails was in the public consciousness, front man Trent Reznor has apparently been busy drumming up controversy in the social media arena. Most specifically, Reznor is less than enchanted with Twitter and has made that fact abundantly clear.

Reznor originally utilized his Twitter account to have a venue where he could be, “more off-the-cuff, honest and ‘human.’” But he was quickly inundated with comments and responses to his updates that he found distasteful. This applied particularly to the disclosure of his love life with fiancée Mariqueen Maandig. While Reznor gushed about his newfound love, fans that followed the NIN icon lashed out.

While Reznor used to be known as the out-of-control, counterculture icon, fans found this new, more socially acceptable persona distasteful. While this didn’t prompt Reznor to entirely shut down his Twitter account, he did switch the account to a one-way flow of information. In this way, people can still receive instant NIN-updates, but fans and followers will no longer be privy to the personal messages from Reznor. He has remained adamant that this status won’t change until Twitter changes its blocking policy.

While Reznor might have a valid argument that celebrities are unfairly judged, followed, poked, prodded, and put under a microscope, there’s something a bit unsettling about his particular rant against Twitter. After all, Reznor voluntarily offered personal information through a widely public channel like Twitter. You can’t complain, then, when you receive comments from people within that public channel.
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Quality Content Outside the Corporate Website

social-media-contentAlthough every company has a slightly different strategy and technique, one of the ultimate goals is always to engage and captivate users. Engaged and captivated users, after all, often translate into engaged and captivated consumers. It is with this in mind that so many companies spend time, effort, and money on creating high quality content.

But companies shouldn’t be short sighted about the value and power of this content. While many businesses are meticulous about what appears on the corporate website, they are less stringent about the entries into the corporate blog, Facebook page, or Twitter account.

This attitude, however, can result in some seriously squandered opportunities. After all, social media venues don’t magically attract, keep, and convert customers. Just like any aspect of your marketing campaign, the content that appears through social media or social networking venues must be carefully researched and created. Otherwise, you’re using the right channels with the wrong message.

This doesn’t mean, though, that the content has to be as formal in presentation. When it comes to your blog, a comma splice here or a split infinite there isn’t going to drive your customers away. It’s more about putting in the time and research to know what your audience wants to see in these interactive platforms.

Also, unlike the content for your official website, there must be a correlated call to action. It’s against the very principle of social media to simply preach at your audience. Ask customers their opinions via your blog. Inspire some conversation and encourage participation.
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Zombies Unite! Social Networking Hits Hollywood

colin-zombie-filmIf someone gave you $70, what would you do? Would you go on a very meager and very short lived shopping spree? Would you purchase a commemorative DVD box set of some kind? Or would you create a full length film that is wowing critics and audiences at Cannes, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world?

That’s exactly what 30 year old director Marc Price decided to do with his pocket change. His zombie flick “Colin” cost just $70, and that includes every possible expense—the actors, the editing, the directing, the camera equipment, the make up, and everything else required to make a full length film.

But how did Price manage to stay so insanely under budget? Easy. He begged, pleaded, and hyped via the social network. Zombie films, after all, have a very loyal and very specific cult following thanks to films such as “Night of the Living Dead” and the more comedic turn “Shaun of the Dead.”

Price utilized this knowledge to rally fans of the genre through venues such as Facebook and MySpace. By posting the simple query, “Who wants to be a zombie?” they managed to get fifty people in full zombie regalia ready to be a part of the film for nothing other than the fun of it.

But there are lots of filmmakers and other various artists that promote their work on social networking sites and still don’t receive the acclaim and renown enjoyed by Price and his little movie that could. So what was his key to marketing success? Basically, he coupled the power of the social networks with an innovative and high quality product.
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Offline Marketing for an Online Business

marketingAs more and more businesses search for ways to cut down on costs, the business model of owning a brick and mortar store with a leased space and employees is beginning to dwindle. Rather, people are turning their efforts and concentration to the online market. But even with a strictly online business, it doesn’t mean that marketing has to be confined to the online arena. Instead, companies should combine online and offline marketing tactics to drive business to their online store.

Utilizing these two channels simply makes good sense. After all, interest in your site is always a positive no matter how that traffic was generated. So whether you’re getting an influx of visitors because of a print ad or because of a viral video, increased traffic means the increased likelihood of sales. So why not double the potential traffic by releasing a viral video and a print ad?

For your offline efforts, consider some of the following tactics and techniques.
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Social Media Versus Search

It seems like it’s impossible to get away from articles nowadays that start with the phrase “In these hard economic times…” But gear up for another, because in these hard economic times, companies are looking for any excuse to yield revenue and cut costs. Perhaps that accounts for part of the reason social media tactics are so very popular right now.

After all, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace can disseminate information about your company’s products and services in a quick and (most importantly) free way. And this ability has many touting this means of marketing as the next best thing.

But there’s also something to be said for holding off on any fad that simply seems too good to be true. After all, any new marketing efforts require time and energy. Even if there isn’t any money required upfront, there is still the necessary dedication of manpower. And this can be viewed as tantamount to expense, because time is most certainly money. As such, before you or your company launches an organized social media effort, make sure it’s right for your business and make sure your business is ready for that kind of campaign.
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Taking Down the eBay Machine

When eBay was first introduced to the online community, it truly revolutionized the way people viewed working from home. In a post-eBay era, it suddenly became a very real possibility for people to pull in a little extra cash simply by dishing off household leftovers. But as the company grew more and more popular, the higher ups grew more and more greedy. Raising their listing fees and other associated fees, users grew increasingly alienated.

With the advent of Craigslist and other less fee-driven sites, users began seeking viable eBay alternatives. While many sites cropped up claiming to be the next eBay rival, they tended to be plagued by scammers and questionable sellers. (Who wants to pay $100 for poorly made Christian Louboutin rip-offs?)
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Social Media Charm School

There’s no reason to talk to anyone anymore. Seriously, why would anyone want to risk calling someone and having an awkward conversation, or (gasp), talking to them face-to-face? I know I don’t. It started with texting a few years ago and then led to social networking sites and Apple’s iChat app. The advent of all these services has made it possible for me to quit talking (with my voice) to most people, except of course my coworkers (who I have to look at and talk to at the same time!) and my family.

In any event, I talk much less than I used to but communicate with many more people than I thought possible. If I am not messaging them on iChat or commenting on something they posted on Facebook, then I am reminded frequently of their status updates or blog posts. But this doesn’t mean I am a social butterfly. I am a reserved type of personality, and social networking has allowed me to become more so. I just maintain a lot of vague conversations while staying within my comfort zone.
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