May 2009

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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Google CEO Ruminates on Life in the Information Age

google-foundersWhile Google CEO and multimillionaire Eric Schmidt is best known for his business ventures, he recently demonstrated his humor, poignancy, and ability to dole out life lessons at the University of Pennsylvania commencement ceremony. Delivering the commencement address, Schmidt made some telling observations about technology, information, and the human condition in general.

He began by noting some mundane differences between his graduating class and the current graduating class, including something as simple as the drink of the day. “We had tang,” Schmidt noted. “You have Redbull.”

But his differences quickly revealed a fundamental divide between the mindset of the two age groups.

“We used $700 VCRs. You have YouTube,” which was followed by, “We got our news from newspapers…remember them? You get your news from blogs and tweets.”
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Featured Content Gallery Passes 50,000 Downloads

fcg_wpBack in January of 2009, iePlexus became the new developers of the Featured Content Gallery WordPress Plugin. We were excited to become part of the WordPress development community and certainly had big plans for the plugin. Since that time, 4 months ago, the Featured Content Gallery has become one of the most popular WordPress plugins to date and has accrued over 50,000 downloads from the WordPress plugin repository. We’ve made significant updates and improvements to the plugin since taking over the reigns, and have created a website, instructional video and support forum dedicated to the plugin. We will continue to manage, maintain and upgrade the plugin so it can continue to be a free, useful application for anyone who wants to utilize it on their WordPress website.

The Featured Content Gallery is a WordPress plugin that creates an automated, rotating image gallery anywhere withing a WordPress site. Based on a MooTools gallery script, the plugin is able to display an image attached to a post or page within a WordPress site and display it automatically wherever the gallery code is entered. The plugin is very popular with many high-quality WordPress themes, including premium WordPress themes from StudioPress, where the FCG is commonly included in new theme releases. It was added to the WordPress repository in February of 2009 and has consistently been one of the most popular plugins, averaging over 500 downloads per day. The Featured Content Gallery plugin page on WordPress has all the information for the plugin, including the download, description, installation, screenshots and more.
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Mark Cuban: Keeping it Classy

mark-cubanIt’s no surprise that tempers run high in professional sports, but this becomes especially true when it comes to the playoffs. But tempers did more than run high during game three of the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets NBA playoff game. After the Nuggets walked away with a referee-aided 106-105 win to make it a 3-0 series lead, tempers finally bubbled over.

After the controversial game came to a close, notoriously hotheaded Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had a few choice words for the scorer’s table. Then, after passing Lydia Moore (the mother of Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin), Cuban informed her that her son was a “punk.”

In the aftermath of the lash-out, reports have become widely varied. But whatever the exact wording of Cuban, there was definitely an exchange that was viewed as inappropriate by the Nuggets camp. As an owner, Cuban was expected not to contribute to the kind of heckling, name calling, and low class shenanigans that usually occur during these heated games. But such is the class of Cuban.

And he continued to demonstrate that highbrow level of sophistication that only $1.8 billion can buy by apologizing to Martin and his mother…via his blog. That’s right. Rather than issuing a face to face apology, Cuban simply posted a halfhearted, more than a little self-serving apology on his personal blog.
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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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Wikipedia NOT the Most Accurate Encyclopedia?!

wikipediaIt took the loss of a musical icon, but a 22-year-old Dublin student finally proved what just about everyone suspected. Wikipedia may not be the most accurate source of information available on the internet.

When famed composer Maurice Jarre died on March 29, 2009, the world was saddened by the loss of a talented and prolific composer and conductor. Born in Lyon, France in 1924, Jarre was responsible for scoring much-loved films such as Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and A Passage to India. For his work on these three films, Jarre was awarded three separate Oscars.

But as much as the musical community was reeling from the loss, they were at least left with some comforting words. “One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear.”
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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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U.S. Armed Forces Uses Facebook and Twitter for Recruitment

thepentagonThe various branches of the armed forces have refined their recruitment tactics over the years, seeking out high school and college students at malls, career fairs, and now through the internet.  Lt. General Benjamin Freakley, the head of the Army command that oversees recruitment, believes that social networking websites offer a unique opportunity to reach the soldiers of tomorrow.  Freakley thinks Facebook could be an effective tool in communicating with 18-24 year-olds, the age range that the Army targets for potential recruits.  “You could friend your recruiter, and then he could talk to your friends,” Freakley states.  Utilizing Facebook, the Army could reach out to high school and college students on a much broader scale. 

In addition to a Facebook page, the Army also maintains a Twitter feed and blog which adds a new dimension to recruitment.  Instead of listening to recruiters drone on about the benefits of the Army, recruiters, soldiers, and civilians are welcome to contribute in an open forum.  Because of this open forum, people interested in a career in the Army can see comments from both sides of the fence, and determine whether Army culture is right for their lifestyle.  Online social media has revolutionized the manner in which armed forces recruitment takes place, and the Army isn’t the only branch of the military reaping the benefits. 
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Internet Giants Undergo Tumultuous Staff Changes

google-layoffsThere’s little debate that two of the most well known names in internet business are Google and Yahoo. These internet titans proved recently, however, that even they aren’t immune to layoffs, cutbacks, and employee shakeups.

For Google, this means they will be saying goodbye to David Rosenblatt. The former CEO of DoubleClick, Rosenblatt had been at Google less than a year before calling it quits. Rosenblatt hasn’t announced his next destination yet, but the fact that Google appears to be having trouble holding onto key creative players should cause people to pause and ask if things at Google are as rock solid as they appear from the outside.

And Yahoo isn’t faring much better. They have instigated some sizable cuts to their staff, giving the dreaded pink slip to about 600 employees. Although Yahoo projected 680 cuts in its first quarter reports, there’s still little doubt that following through with layoffs is far worse than simply projecting layoffs.

Morale, therefore, at both companies is sure to be at an all-time low, which puts them squarely in line with just about every other layoff-ridden, profit-decreased company out there right now.

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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