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!

Monday, February 28, 2011

The 20 Most Retweetable Words

This past Friday I attended a webinar on the Science of Blogging hosted by Dan Zarella of HubSpot. It was one of the best webinars I’ve attended in awhile, analyzing the science behind the best social media practices.

One of the many things the webinar covered was the 20 Most Retweetable Words (ie the words that if are included a tweet, are most likely to get retweeted by other users), so I wanted to pass along this helpful info to other social media enthusiasts.

Here are the top retweetable words on Twitter based on analytics performed by Dan:   
    most retweetable words
  1. you
  2. Twitter
  3. please
  4. retweet
  5. Post
  6. Blog
  7. Social
  8. free
  9. media
  10. help
  11. please retweet
  12. great
  13. social media
  14. 10
  15. follow
  16. how to
  17. top
  18. blog post
  19. check out
  20. new blog post

So out of the 50 million tweets sent each day, why are the above more likely to be liked enough by others to retweet them?  For starters, its not too surprising that a significantly large portion of Twitter users are social media enthusiasts, so they’re more likely to RT posts about the topic they love.

Others, such as new blog post, blog post, blog, post, and great alert readers of something new and exciting, while retweet, please retweet, and check out provide direct instructions, which people are psychologically more inclined to follow. 10, how to, top and help are reflective of the most readable blog titles and its no secret people go crazy go free stuff.

You, the most retweetable word, should also not come as a big surprise – the only thing people like more than free stuff is themselves – so when others praise them, they’re more likely to self-promote these praises.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Who Invented Social Media?

While it is easy to pin down landmark events in the history of the web, such as who invented the internet, who the godfather of the computer is, and when the first email was sent, giving credit to the person, team, or company that invented social media gets a little more complicated.  

History of Social Media
Before getting into the origins of social media, its important to state exactly what we're talking about when we refer to the term 'social media'. If 'media' is an instrument of communication (i.e. an advertisement for a bank at a bus stop or a news reporter covering a story), 'social media' is simply a social instrument of communication. More specifically, it is a form of media that gives you information while interacting with you, instead of just presenting this information to you. For example, social media websites include everything from YouTube, which allows users to upload their own videos and rank others, to Ning communities that allow users to create their own content-specific social networking sites, and Yelp! that gives visitors information on local restaurants while leaving it up to them to rank and review their own experiences.

Now back to the question at hand - Who invented social media? Once again, the answer depends on what we're talking about.

If we're talking about the technologies that can be classified as 'social media', the honor of the Godfathers of Social Media goes to Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis who in 1979 invented the world's first usernet systems. Usernets enabled users to read and post messages to various categories, know as newsgroups. At a high level, they can be thought of as a hybrid between email and the web forums of today, and many of the popular group sites of today, such as Google Groups and Yahoo! Groups, as well as RSS feeds are based on these technologies. 

If we're talking about who invented the term 'social media', while many organizations have been performing social media practices for decades in the form of community and content management, we've only recently seen the term become a buzz word in the past 5 years. So invented the term social media? It took a bit of digging, but the best information I could find on this came from a recent Fortune post which bestows the honors to a mixture of the following:
  • Darryl Berry who claims he used the term starting in late 1994 while working on Matisse, an online media environment and for a paper in May 1995 on "social media spaces", which predicted the evolution of the web into a network engaged users
  • Ted Leonsis who in 1997 is cited using the term in the same manner in which it is used today and claims to have created this term in the early 1990s while at AOL to describe  "a mashup of technology and communications and media itself".
  • Tina Sharkey who owns the domain since 1999 and claims she coined the term during her days working on iVillage, where she was in charge of community building.

While the history of social media may not be 100% clear, its future is much more certain. With 80% of all businesses with 100 or more employees predicted to be actively involved in this industry by the end of 2011, this aspect of marketing is certain to keep growing, expanding, and progressing for many years to come. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

When is the best time to send an email blast?

With 294 billion estimated emails sent every day, the average person owning 1.6 email accounts, and 75 emails a day received in each of those accounts, when is the best time to send an email blast to ensure it gets opened and converted? 

best time to send email
While many factors affect the performance of an email campaign, one of the most important keys to launching a successful blast is the time and day the email is sent at. So, when is the best time to send an email blast? There must be some golden formula somewhere revealing this precise information right? Wrong. 

This mythical golden formula does not exist - if it did, those 294 billion emails would be launched at the same time, on the same day, every week, every year. What can be calculated and analyzed though is a unique formula for your particular mailing list.  

Your strategy is going to very significantly depending on whether or not you are launching a B2B or a B2C campaign, what your desired 'conversion' is, and the general trends of your market. Essentially, there is no universal golden formula, instead one that is golden to you.  

The tricky part is obviously figuring out what that formula is.  Here are some factors to take into consideration and tips to help you figure your formula out:

  • Segment your list based on geographic regions - If you are California-based company, and you want all of your global customers to receive your email at 10 AM, make sure you are segmenting your list accordingly to launch multiple campaigns at multiple times, ensuring everyone receives your email at 10 AM their time, not Pacific-coast time. 
  • Run a regression of previous campaign performance - If you have access to this information, your unique formula may already be solved.  Export your information to test against open rates, CTR's and other engagements you monitor against the day of week and time of day sent at. While other factors affect the open rates & CTR, this will be a good indication of trends for your base. 
  • B2B emails sent earlier in the week, earlier in the day have traditionally fared better - This being said, most email marketers these days have figured this out, so do you want your email to get lost in the Monday morning clutter of +100 emails in your customer's inbox? I would recommend waiting until mid-morning (call it 11 AM) on a Monday or Tuesday to send - this gives recipients enough time to sort through their clutter, then pay attention to the content in yours when it arrives later in the morning.
  • Launch several A/B split tests to perfect your formula - Split testing (sending half of your mailing list separate emails) is a great way to perfect your unique formula.  Make sure all other factors (email content, subject lines, etc. are held constant.  
As I mentioned above, the most important thing to remember when it comes to launching an email blast is that there is not one golden time to send - its a matter of finding the time that is best for your customers. Once you've found this time, be sure to continue to monitor it as email habits are constantly changing on both the marketing and recipient fronts.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Super Bowl Ad Statistics - A look back at the last 45 years

While those in Pittsburgh and Green Bay will be watching the Super Bowl to see who clinches bragging rights, according to Neilson, 51% of the people watching are enjoying the advertising more than the action on the field. While this golden opportunity is clearly a marketer’s dream to be able to engage with such a captive and receptive audience, the cost to play in this battle taking place off the field has quadrupled over the years. 

Interested in taking out a 30-second spot to promote your start up this year? Unfortunately, this year’s coveted Super Bowl ad space filled up in late October so at this point you’ll have to wait until next year (although Groupon was able to score a last minute spot recently), be sure to budget at least $3 million for this placement. 

Here’s a look at ad spend for 30-second spots in the Super Bowl for the past 45 years:
Important things to note here: Inflation prices were calculated using the CPI Inflation Calculator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; All costs are estimates as some years have conflicting data; all data compiled from AdAge, CBS News, and Media Buyer Planner.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

3 Easy Steps to Protect Your Brand in Social Media

Last week, we took a look at what to do when someone hijacks your brand in social media. While hijacked media is a growing concern for any marketing department or agency, there are 3 simple things you can do to protect your brand before it gets hijacked, minimizing the overall risk to your corporate, product, service, or personal brand:
  1.  Register for an account on the major web 2.0 platforms in your brand portfolio – While most sites have some regulations when it comes to activity on their sites in order to keep your account active, many also will not help you if your brand name gets taken first by someone else. So while all of the social media platforms may not be a strategic initiative for your organization, it’s a good idea to grab these usernames before someone else does.  To maintain minimum activity levels, which for most is just logging into the account, give yourself 15 minutes a month to simply log to meet these minimum requirements.
  2. Spend the time to make your accounts look like they belong to you – Again, while in many cases it may not make sense to actively use all of these accounts to grow or maintain your business, its almost always worth the time and effort to customize these platforms with your logos, colors, fonts, treatments, etc. so the pages align with your brand.  This will give the pages the legitimacy factor they need in the event your brand is hijacked and will help make the imposter seem more like an imposter. 
  3. Keep ahead of the curve on the next big platform – Is your business on FourSquare yet? Do you give reward your customers to check in on sites such as Marginize? Was Quora part of your 2011 marketing plan? These sites and others front runners like them are set to be the next big players in this highly competitive and ever-changing field. While it is important to maintain a presence on the leading platforms, it’s also equally as important to keep ahead of next big wave in social media. And while it is truly impossible to know which sites will actually be the next Twitter or YouTube, and it doesn’t make sense to dedicate hours upon hours to maintain activity on sites that may never take, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the market to stay ahead of your competition – and potential hackers – on these sites. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top 10 Google Doodles

On August 30, 1998 Google visitors from across the globe were intrigued to find an altered version of their beloved Google logo (know today as a Google Doodle) on the site's homepage. Twelve years and over 700 doodle's later, these logo treatments are benefiting not only Google's own brand and traffic, but the traffic of the top search results for the related images as well with some reporting up to three months worth of AdSense revenue in just one day.

Today the Google Doodle honors everything from standard to unusual global holidays, to famous politicians', artists', Saints', and leading thinkers' birthdays, to unique occurrences such as the Venus Transit and Unix Time. Below is a look at the Top 10 Google Doodles of all time:

Rank Image/Premier Date Why this doodle rocked
10 Google Doodle Burning Man

30 August 1998
Google's first ever doodle was released to commemorate company founders' (Sergey Brin and Larry Page) attendance at the week-long annual Burning Man Festival in Nevada..

(At this time the exclamation mark was part of the Google Beta logo.)
9 Google Doodle Holiday Series 2006

21 December 2006
In recent years Google has marked the holiday season with a series of ~5 images released daily leading up to Christmas.

This is the first doodle from the 2006 series which featured a kangaroo couple taking down the silver streamers see here to knit a dress for the female.
8 Andy Warhol Google Doodle

6 August 2002
On what would have been Andy Warhol's 74th birthday, Google honored the legendary artist with a pop art doodle, reflective of his famous four square, bright color paintings of pop culture celebrities, products, and icons.
7 Braille Google Doodle

4 January 2006
To celebrate Louise Braille's Birthday, for the first time Google produced a logo without alphanumerical characters, substituting them instead for their braille counterparts while keeping the traditional colors of the logo.
6 Uncle Same Google Doodle

30 November 1999
Google used one of their earliest doodles to premier their Uncle Sam Search, a new platform that searches only government web sites (mostly .gov and .mil). 

While the technology is still active today, it is not listed in any of the features, services, or tools in Google Help Central or anywhere in the Google Labs.
5 Google Doodle April Fools TISP

 1 April 2007
April Fools day hoaxes were nothing new to Google - previous years pranks had included everything from a search technology that will read minds to job opportunities at a research center on the moon - however 2007 was the first year a doodle had been dedicated to this US holiday. The big announcement of their new TiSP service (short for Toilet Internet Service Provider) was also complete with a Going with the Flow Starter Guide, press release, Help Group and FAQ.
4 iGoogle Doodle

 30 April 2008
To promote the launch of iGoogle artist themes and help increase activity on this platform, Jeff Koons was commissioned to create this Chrome Tulips doodle, along with several themes for the personalized homepages.

When it premiered only 20% of all visits to the home page were from iGoogle users.

9 October 2010
In another landmark doodle, this black & white logo transformed into a 32-sec. YouTube video tribute when users clicked on the doodle honoring John Lenon’s 70th birthday. The short clip featured Google letters getting sketched with peaceful drawings set to the tune one of Lennon's most famous songs, Imagine, and concluded with his iconic face serving as the OO's.

While Google had previous interactive doodles in the form of animations, HTML5, and JavaScript, this was the first time video was incorporated. This also marked the first time anything other than search results were used as the landing page for the doodle (however after the video finished playing users were automatically re-directed back to the search results).

 6 September 2010
The mysterious, complex and interactive doodles that appeared in early September 2010 sparked wild speculation across the technology world - top industry experts attributed the doodles to everything from an early 12th birthday celebration for Google, to an exercise in promoting HTML5, to a teaser for a much larger announcement, and much more.

For the first particle doodle, any time a mouse dragged over the logo the particles would instantly fly away from the mouse. For the second keystroke doodle, as text was entered into the search box the number of corresponding letters would instantly turn from gray to their regular hues.

Two days later all rumors were put to rest when Google revealed their new instant search, claiming to save users 11 hours with each passing second thanks to faster searches, smarter predictions, and instant results.

7 September 2010
1 Google Doodle Instant


21 May 2010
Most experts agree this interactive doodle honoring PacMan's 30th Anniversary is the top doodle of all time as it allowed users to play a live version of the game and the "I'm feeling lucky" search option button was also changed to "Insert Coin".

During the day, the average site time increased from 11 seconds to an astonishing 47 seconds and several analysts claimed the game led to $120.5M million in lost work productivity for the day.

So now that you've seen the Top 10 Google Doodles of all time - which  is your favorite? Do you feel any additional ones should be added to the list? (Additionally, if you are interested in learning more, check out the full listing of Google's Doodles or the History of Google Doodles.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Help! Someone hijacked my brand in social media!

According to a new McKinsey report, Beyond paid media: Marketing’s new vocabulary, there are two vocab words marketing execs should have added to their media business plans this year - sold and hijacked media. While sold media is simply a company selling media space on their own media (for example Ellen DeGeneres’s social community hosting ads), hijacked media is much more difficult to prevent and control, and can ultimately lead to the tarnishing of a corporate, product, or personal brand.
Some examples of hijacked media include:
  • Someone registering for a social media account using one of your brands
  •  A social media account being broken into and unapproved content released by the individual
  • A spin off (positive or negative) of a regular media campaign going viral

One of the most legendary brand hijackings of 2010 occurred during the Gulf Oil Spill crisis when the @BPGlobal PR account appeared on Twitter, sending sarcastic tweets and quickly amassing more followers than the real McCoy. While the folks at BP did not find this hoax very amusing, the hoax account came across to outsiders as more legitimate judging by its appearance alone.

So as a marketer, corporate lawyer, or brand protector, what rights do you have if someone is camping on your brand on the web? On the three most popular and interactive social media sites, your rights are fairly well protected:

  •        Facebook: In terms of businesses, the rights to administrators on a ‘Page’, aka the pages with the ‘like’ buttons, are limited to “authorized representatives”. If you go to create your page and someone is impersonating your company/brand, to report the problem you’ll need to fill in the form that appears when you are denied. In terms of personal impersonation, select the ‘Report/Block this person’ option on the hoax profile, then the ‘Fake Profile’ option, and add ‘Impersonating me or someone else’ as the reason. 
  •        Twitter: Like Facebook, while impersonation is illegal, parody accounts are permitted, however they must abide by the specific Twitter guidelines for these types of accounts and those in violation can be reported/terminated by filing a report here. Specifically, parody accounts cannot use the exact name of the company, product, or person and cannot be made with the clear intent to confuse or mislead.  What struck me as surprising though is the fact in the BP case mentioned above, the imposter account was asked to change its description to make it clear it was not really BP saying thing such as “The only harmful chemicals in our dispersant are the ones you inhale, silly” and “Honestly, why are we still talking about the spill? Twilight comes out next week! Come join us in line, but the account owner refused to change and today the page reflects its original content as when it was launched May 19th.
  •        YouTube: Similar to Facebook, YouTube channels cannot impersonate a person, business, or brand. However, unlike Facebook, creating a username that is someone else’s’ trademark is allowed, as long as it is not publishing content related to the owned trademark. Violations of this can be filed here.
So while hijacked media poses a serious threat, your rights are fairly well protected, however the ultimate decision lies in the hands of the site and regaining control may be a difficult/time consuming process.  

Next week I’ll take a look at easy ways to prevent brand hijacking so be sure to check back! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

5 Ps of Marketing - What is the 5th P?

Anyone who has taken an entry-level marketing class can easily rattle off the basic 4-P’s of the marketing mix (Hint: Look at the blog’s title!), but as the ‘traditional’ marketing mix evolves, two important questions are being raised - Is it time to add a 5th P? and if so, What is the 5th P of marketing?

5th P of MarketingThe traditional marketing mix (product, place, price, promotion) is meant to define the marketing elements for successfully bringing an organization’s new product or service to market or evaluating an existing offer to optimize the impact on a target market. The credit for this original mix goes to E.J. McCarthy, a prominent American marketer, who first introduced the P’s back in 1960.

Since 1960, however, there have obviously been a lot of changes and advancements across the world of marketing. Most recently, the role of social media and web 2.0 have been taking the marketing world by storm. Due to these changes, several additional P’s have been proposed to be added to the original mix. Some of the front runners include:
  • People
  • Participation
  • Process
  • Physical Evidence
  • Passion
  • Perception
While the above list is far from complete for possible inclusions and the elements of people and participation are generally the top choices for inclusion into a revised mix, none of the above are strong enough or exclusive to stand on their own.

Instead, the similar elements of people and participation, whether it be people participating in web 2.0 sites such as Twitter, Facebook ‘like pages’, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Digg, etc. or people participating as brand ambassadors, should be classified as a part of the broader category place (where a product/service can be sold) and promotion (what is communicated about a product/service). Instead of a creating a new category, marketers need to view the above two as more transparent and as less controllable.
What are your thoughts? Should a 5th P be added and this blog’s title be changed?