Social Networking

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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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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Layoff Updates in the World of Social Networking

myspace-layoffsWhile layoff rumors abound in this economic climate, there is one company that has been hit particularly hard—MySpace. While they are a household name in social networking, MySpace can’t seem to justify being second best to Facebook—the more rapidly growing and popular of the two networking powerhouses. And the severity of the potential layoffs at MySpace makes that very clear.

The company, after all, has been the center of many speculations regarding their staff. One source used the word “massive” to describe the as of yet unproven layoffs, while a different source actually went so far as to put a number on that generic (albeit frightening) word. This alternate source placed the layoffs at anywhere between 300 and 500 employees.

Many believe these talks and the subsequent actions will help appease the already concerned shareholders. Despite a 2.39% jump in unique visitors during April and a report that puts them ahead of Facebook for videos, MySpace has been steadily losing the battle of social media dominance. And apparently, in today’s climate, that’s simply not good enough to justify a full staff.

New York State Policy Goes 2.0

new-york-cityDemonstrating the increasing need for everyone to be instantly connected, New York has taken a major step to elevating state policy into the age of social media. To that end, New York has not only launched a New York State Office of Technology (OFT), but that entity has also premiered Empire 2.0. The initiative is a concerted effort to increase collaboration and promote government participation through social networking avenues.

But this isn’t the first instance of OFT’s social savvy. In May, the agency launched both a Facebook and Twitter page. State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines is particularly excited about the potential for this new program. Pointing out some of the potential applications of this program, Daines focused on the potential for quick and widespread dissemination of information. Through the venues offered by 2.0, New Yorkers can be made aware of various issues such as smoking cessation laws almost immediately after being made into policy.
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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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Sometimes, All It Takes is a Little Insight

weezerFormed in 1992, Weezer is an instantly recognizable name in American pop rock. They’ve won Grammys, they’ve released six full length studio albums, and they’ve enjoyed the sale of eight million of those records in the US alone.

So why would an established band like Weezer turn to viral marketing? Because even highly successful and well known entities can benefit from this powerful means of marketing. As such, Weezer premiered the music video for their new single “Pork and Beans” on YouTube.

Aided by their established notoriety and the video’s use of many internet sensations, the music video became one of the most popular submissions on YouTube the week of its debut. The video’s subsequent popularity helped it take home the Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video.

But the YouTube video did more than further their renown. It also helped them better target their demographic. How? The band used YouTube Insight on their highly popular video. Insight is a free analytics tool that allows YouTube users to gather audience age, video views, and more.
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Swine Flu Research Indicative of New Information Trends

swine-fluAlthough some of the initial swine flu hysteria has seemed to subside, search trends indicate that it’s still very much in the public consciousness. After hearing multiple stories and stats from both the local and national news, people fired up their computers and turned to the search engines.

People, of course, turned to their most trusted search engine—Google. Within that engine, queries such as “swine flu symptoms” and “swine flu” rose as quickly as the hysteria itself. The following is a list of the top ten visited websites based on these search terms.

1. CDC.gov
2. Wikipedia.com
3. News.Google.com
4. News. Yahoo.com
5. MySpace.com
6. CNN.com
7. Yahoo.com
8. PandemicFlu.gov
9. Facebook.com
10. WHO.int
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Study Indicates a Rash of Twitter Quitters

twitter-retention-rateWhile a staggering amount of people seem to talk about Twitter, the latest polls and research indicate that talk is about all that Twitter can muster nowadays. According to these latest numbers, the hype surrounding the microblogging site is far exceeding the practical rate of usage.

To that end, a study by Nielsen Online determined that over 60 percent of new Twitter users quit using the site after only one month. Put another way, the retention rate for the site hovers around 40 percent. To put that dismal number in perspective, other social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace boast a retention rate around 70 percent.

All the dedicated Twitter users, however, look for hope in the facts. After all, no one can deny the impressive rush of people who signed up for the service. But even these numbers can be viewed as troubling statistics for Twitter. After all, other social networking powerhouses also experienced explosive initial numbers. But unlike Twitter, they were able to hold onto their users.
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