Sunday, August 7, 2011

What are the Top Cities for Social Media?

The 2011 Summer Social Business report by NetProspex recently ranked the top 25 US cities for social media usage by businesspeople as the following:
(NPSI = NetProspex Social Index; which was determined by the social presence & number of social connections in cities across the US on Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn; please see below for further details.)
Top Cities for Social Media
Source: NetProspect Social Business Report

Rank City, State NPSI*
1 San Francisco, CA 47
2 San Jose, CA 45
3 New York, NY 31
4 (tie) Ventura, CA 27
4 (tie) Austin, TX 27
6 Stamford, CT 26
7 Seattle, WA 25
8 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX 24
9 Boston, MA 23
10 (tie) Denver, CO 22
10 (tie) Oakland, CA 22
12 (tie) Chicago, IL 21
12 (tie) Atlanta, GA 21
14 New Brunswick, NJ 20
15 (tie) Los Angeles, CA 19
15 (tie) San Diego, CA 19
15 (tie) Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 19
15 (tie) Bridgeport, CT 19
15 (tie) Philadelphia, PA 19
20 (tie) Newark, NJ 18
20 (tie) Washington, DC 18
20 (tie) Boulder, CO 18
20 (tie) Orange County, CA 18
20 (tie) Raleigh, NC 18
25 Trenton, NJ 17

As per the report, "the NPSI was used to score & rank social network activity across the top social networks including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The data was mined from NetProspex's database of crowdsourced business contact information. The NPSI score is determined by the following:
  1. Social presence: The # of employees registered with social media profiles across Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook using a corporate email address.
  2. Social connectedness: The # of connections across social networks."
While its no surprise Silicon Valley, the technology hub of the US located in northern California, clinched the top 2 spots on the list of the most social cities with San Francisco & San Jose beating out the competition, Austin, Texas was a interesting tie for 4th. Once nicknamed 'The Silicon Hills" for all of the technology development centers located here, Austin beat out other technology forerunners such as Seattle, Washington (7th overall) and Boston, Massachusetts (9th overall). 

For more information on the top social media cities, check out the full Social Business Report here (the city analysis starts on page 28).  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Christmas in July - The Forgotten Holiday

Christmas in July Marketing
It's July 25th and I'm here celebrating all alone.
Growing up, I always had an obscure level of excitement when it came time for Christmas in July.  An avid skier, maybe it was the way my skis were shining in the sun, longing to feel the fresh corduroy tracks of snow, or maybe it had something to do with my birthday falling on the day after Christmas making Christmas in July feel like a mini-birthday celebration as well, but for whatever the reason, I’ve always looked forward to July 25th with a heightened level of excitement.

As a marketer, it also seems at first glance like a great opportunity to play up the holiday with sales, events, specials, promotions and a few early bird holiday shopping placements.  While previous attempts by Toys R Us and other retail chains have failed in the past to significantly impact revenues, the previous years’ main focus has been in the wrong areas with buying Christmas presents early at reduced prices or putting items on ‘layaway’ type programs.  It makes sense consumers wouldn’t want to think about buying Christmas presents in 100 degree weather, but what about focusing the campaigns on holiday pricing in July? Or better yet,  charities focusing on the ‘sprit of giving’ in July? While I’m sure many bars and clubs have been able to capitalize on this forgotten holiday, it seems even this market has let my beloved holiday go under the radar this year. 

As you can imagine, I was more than slightly disappointed and let down this year with the lack of fanfare and almost complete overlooking of one of my favorite holidays. Out of the +30 emails I receive every day, I only received ONE email, from Target, that had a Christmas in July tie-in. The Christmas Tree Shops, another US discount retailer, didn't event run a promotion and they have Christmas in their name. Where is the extra-special discount Groupon for Christmas in July? Or the TV network promotion of Christmas movies? I’m sad to report I didn’t even get to watch a re-run of “The Christmas Story”. It seems like such a lost opportunity that not one bar, restaurant, charity or mass group coupon company picked up on this holiday. Even if only one company in each industry seized this opportunity, they would have easily captured the market of Christmas in July fanatics like myself. 

The email campaign I did receive from Target took a clever twist on the holiday, choosing to play up the big retail holiday, Black Friday, which traditionally falls on the Friday after Thanksgiving and kicks off the holiday shopping season. Their campaign, “Back in Black Friday”, was an email campaign & online-only sale, which they also ran in 2010, and reported their July sales rose 3.8% and same-store sales rose 2% as a result.  While it makes sense for a retailer to play up a shopping holiday vs. a minimally celebrated holiday, they could have closed the loop better with an actual Christmas in July promotion as well as the ‘Back in Black Friday’ promotion ran on Friday, July 15th only.

What are your thoughts? Was the overlooking of Christmas in July this year a missed opportunity for many businesses or a better strategic alignment of resources? Additionally, did you see any noteworthy Christmas in July campaigns that I overlooked? If so, please fill tell us about them in the comments below!

In the meantime, I'm going to listen to a few rounds of Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas is You', light my Christmas tree-scented candle, and then hang up my Santa hat. There's always next year.

Merry Christmas in July everyone!

A copy of Target's 'Back in Black Friday' email campaign which kicked off on Wednesday, July 13th and the promotion itself ran on Friday, July 15th 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Shameless Plug for a Very Deserving Cause

While the purpose of my blog has always been focused around all things marketing, for this post I made a special exception for a very worthwhile cause.  For those of you that know me on a personal level, you most likely already know diabetes is something that significantly affects my family in many ways. For those of you that don't know me beyond the virtual world, you may be surprised to learn that my family has one of the rarest documented cases of Type 1 Diabetes - My two younger brothers, my older sister, my two uncles, my cousin, and myself all suffer from Type 1 Diabetes (more commonly referred to as Juvenile Diabetes) - the most severe form of the disease.

This past fall, I had the pleasure of meeting Fred Ross, also a Type 1 diabetic, while at one of my training sessions at the world-renowned Joslin Diabetes Clinic. After the session, Fred and I discovered that along with fighting this courageous battle, we shared another common interest, cycling. An avid cyclist, Fred asked me join his team in the American Diabetes Association's 20th Annual Tour de Cure charity ride on May 22nd along Boston's scenic (and hilly!) North Shore, and I couldn't possibly say no.

While 62 miles is more than double the distance I've ever ridden, I know the ultimate goal of finding a cure and improving the lives of those affected by diabetes through this fundraiser is well worth my physical battle and will motivate me through every hill and incline along the way. And with 2011 marking my personal 20th anniversary as a survivor with ZERO complications, the timing couldn't be more fitting.

The American Diabetes Association (and particularly their Tour de Cure event) is an amazing organization that has helped my family, along with the 24 million other Americans living with this disease, in countless ways and nothing would make me happier than to be able to give back to them for all the support, guidance, and advancements they have provided to all of us affected over the years. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful our lives are as manageable and livable as they are.

Any donation, small or large, is greatly appreciated. Donations can be made via this link.
While significant advancements have been made toward developing new technologies and therapies that help make living everyday life with this disease more manageable, constant research is essential to further the ultimate goal of finding a cure.  

With at least 30,000 new cases of Type 1 Diabetes diagnosed each year in the United States alone, it is now more important than ever research funded by organizations such as the ADA is able to progress. This progress brings people with diabetes a priceless new sense of hope and allows scientists to speed up their work, bringing all of us one step closer to the end goal of finding a cure.

I cannot say thank you enough to my family, friends, and doctors for your endless love, support, and encouragement since my diagnosis 20 years ago, and particularly my mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, and Aunt for being by my side since that day through all the highs, lows, and everything else in between.

Peace, love, and insulin pumps,

Monday, April 18, 2011

Local Advertising: New Balance’s Excellence Campaign for the 2011 Boston Marathon

As any Bostonian can tell you, Marathon Monday, or ‘Patriot’s Day’, is one of the most celebrated days of the year in our beloved city, right behind St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas.  And as anyone who has ever ran the marathon can tell you, completing it, or for that matter qualifying for it, is one of the greatest honors a runner can hold.  The accomplishment is nothing short of excellence.

Excellent Trained All Winter; New Balance
One of several concepts of the campaign, this one depicting a runner
training through Boston's record setting and harsh winter of '10-'11,
along  the Charles' River, a popular training spot for runners.
Therefore, due to the high populace of the world’s elite runners and running enthusiasts alike during April in Boston, its no surprise this time of year is also home to some of the best sports marketing campaigns, in an effort to win over the hearts (and most importantly wallet shares) of a market that accounted for $61M of retail sales in February 2011.

For the past six years I’ve had the pleasure of calling Boston home and during this time I’ve seen an impressive array of campaigns during marathon season. And while Adidas has been the official sponsor of the marathon since 1992, claiming the rights to produce the coveted marathon jacket, Boston-based New Balance’s “Let’s Make Excellence Happen” campaign is also nothing sort of excellence this year.

The excellence campaign, created by Arnold Worldwide, features a series of highly relatable, inspirational images and slogans that showcase the excellence the runners have accomplished in their grueling winter training, along with several landmarks along the popular race route. The campaign is tied to the excellence of New Balance’s newest light running shoe, the New Balance 890.

The images were placed on various high-traffic areas throughout the city, such as popular T-stops and bus shelters. New Balance then did an excellent job of closing the loop by pointing all of the promotions to their digital campaign in an easy to remember URL (, which promotes the 890 shoe, while providing in-depth running, spectator, and visitor tips at the same time.

Excellent Screams Through Wellesley; Excellent Makes Molehills out of Newton Hills; Excellent Loves Heartbreak; New Balance
Several more of the "Let's Make Excellence Happen" concepts on display at Boston's Park Street Station,  one of the 4 busiest stations in the city. Concept #1 plays up the notorious section of screaming girls at the all-female Wellesley College, while concepts 2 &3 touch on the challenge of making it up Heartbreak Hill at mile 17, which is location in Newton. 
Congratulations to New Balance for making the home-town crowd proud and more importantly hats off to the +25,000 runners who completed today’s grueling 26.2-miles.

Specifically, congratulations to one of my nearest and dearest friends, Chris Conte, who finished his 3rd Boston Marathon today as a member of the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge team, setting a new course personal record for himself. Since joining the DFMC team three years ago, Chris has raised over $15,000 for cancer research, a feat as admirable and excellent as the course itself.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Best of: April Fools Day 2011

While April Fool’s Day hoaxes are nothing new to the world of marketing, with everyone from Google announcing job opportunities for a new research center on the moon, to the British supermarket chain Tesco premiering a new genetically modified whistling carrot, HootSuite stole the show this April 1st  with their 2-pronged email campaign intended for confidential & internal eyes only. 

As a daily user of HootSuite, a Twitter platform that allows for team scheduling, collaboration and moderation across the social media site, I frequently get email campaigns from Ryan Holmes, HootSuite’s CEO.  As much as I praise the platform for all the time and hassle it saves me in scheduling and monitoring Tweets, I simply just didn’t have the time to read his latest announcement email this past Friday morning, nor did I have the time to read or digest the subject line, “HootSuite Pivot - CONFIDENTIAL & INTERNAL” (although now I wish I had!). 

Later, on Friday afternoon just after 4:00 pm EST, I received another simple, two-sentence, text-formatted email from Mr. Holmes saying “The prior email entitled HootSuite Pivot was sent to you in error. It was intended to be sent only to our Board, Investors and Advisors and is highly confidential. Please delete and ignore”. 

Falling prey to believing this message, what was the next thing I did? I went straight back into my deleted box and searched for Mr. Holmes’s email from the morning to see what the big secret was. After locating the email and reading their announcement about moving away from their core business platform to launch Happy Owls, I finally realized how gullible I was, but was still highly impressed with the innovative and impressive marketing behind the prank.  

As an email marketer myself, I should have realized the chance of this type of large-scale error occurring was nearly impossible, but in my defense, it was late on a Friday afternoon after a very long week, I forgot what day of the year it was, and I also frequently do receive correction emails clarifying everything from time, date, and/or price mistakes to mass emails sent accidentally.

I haven’t seen any reports on HootSuite's open or click-through rates on this particularly impressive email campaign, but my gut tells me it was well above average on the first launch and received an even more unprecedented spike after the second one was released. 

Hats off to HootSuite on this impressive campaign!