Try As You Might, Facebook- You’re Not the New Twitter…Yet.

March 14, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Social Network Sites, Web 2.0 Strategies | Leave a comment
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Last night, I had my first run-in with the new Facebook. I must have looked like a child who lost her mother in the mall. I was frantically clicking tabs, just trying to find my profile. Every looks different, and I still can’t figure out how to find the newest tagged photos.

There’s this new “Highlights” section which has a mumbo-jumbo of information listed: new photos, applications that people are using, advertisements…I don’t get it, what’s it for? Isn’t that what the news feed section is?

What does look familiar is the publisher featured on the top of each page, asking “What’s On My Mind?” I can’t seem to place my finger on it. Where have I seen this before? I feel like I’ve answered a similar question in 140 characters…oh yes, it’s Twitter. Facebook is a Twitter wannabe. Yeah, I said it.

The new Facebook looks awfully familiar, yet uncomfortably overwhelming.

The new Facebook looks awfully familiar, yet uncomfortably overwhelming.

Let’s put my obvious bias  on hold for a minute, and answer some real questions about the site. Mainly- why? Why did Facebook change, yet again?

According to an article in the March 9th issue of Ad Age Daily, Mark Zuckerberg explained the new stream of information that Facebook would feature. The stream will be updated in near real time, and allows users to filter out specific members to retrieve info on. For example, if you only want to see a stream of your college alums’ activity you can choose to sort by that network.

In addition to the changes for users, there are changes in store for marketers. Before March 11, companies create “pages” which do not look like a normal profile page and do not have the same features that a regular Facebook user has. Now, these pages actually look like profiles and allow companies to interact with their fans on a more personal level. As companies update their information on their profile (update their status, upload pics and videos, etc.), these updates can be seen in their fans’ streams, keeping their brand at the forefront of their customers’ minds.

It’s a really interesting shift to see. Obviously Twitter has made quite an impression on the world (or the Internet…or are those interchangeable yet?). I think we will see many more social networking sites using the live-stream model to increase their relevance in a world ever-concerned with immediate results and instant information.

Taste the Rainbow in Wiki-Land

March 7, 2009 at 5:59 pm | Posted in Social Network Sites, Web 2.0 Strategies | Leave a comment
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Skittles released their new website recently, and I believe I’ve seen it before.

That’s because http://www.skittles.com is really Wikipedia…wait, what? Ok, it’s not really Wikipedia’s site, it’s an overlay which “lives on top” of popular Web 2.0 sites. Depending on when you check their site, you might wind up on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

How's the Interweb Taste?

The overlay part is a red box (which can be minimized) which allows you to navigate to other “sections” of the website, which in fact brings you to other Web 2.0 sites (i.e. click on friends and you’re taken to Skittles’ Facebook page, click on chatter and you’ll see the Twitter feed for Skittles).

Visitors are also able to “Contact the Rainbow” through the only Skittles-branded page on their site.

As quirky as it is, you have to realize how much control the company has given up with this new site. They are essentially relying on their customers to do their marketing, using their pictures, reviews, videos, and Tweets…unfiltered. This means good, bad, or ugly- everyone can see what’s going on in Internet-land for Skittles.

What happens when an inappropriate picture is tagged with Skittles on Flickr, or someone starts badmouthing the company on Twitter? Will the company be forced to pull the plug? I would assume they have an elaborate crisis communication plan lined up for potential situations like this, and I would be curious to find out what it entailed.

If anyone has opinions about the site, I’d like to hear them. Is the Skittles web development team onto the next big thing? Are they just lazy? Is this marketing suicide, or absolutely genius? Bring on the comments!

Want to be on American Idol?

March 5, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Posted in Campaigns, Web 2.0 Strategies | Leave a comment
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Now you can, even if your voice is reminiscent of a dying cat.

American Idol Judges LOVE Their Coke

American Idol Judges LOVE Their Coke

We all know that Coca-Cola is a proud sponsor of American Idol. Since season 1, Paula, Randy and Simon have guzzled their beverages from those delightful red cups. Let’s be honest, though- they’re getting a little old. This past week, Ryan Seacrest announced that American Idol viewers can log on to My Coke Rewards to design their own version of the Red Coke Cup.

In addition to designing your own Coke cup, you can vote on others’ designs. One of the cups featured on the website will eventually be the Judges’ next cup.

Coke’s use of crowdsourcing is extremely fitting. The entire premise of American Idol is that the decision of the next big pop star lies in the hands of the viewers. Each week, millions of people text or call in their votes for their favorite singers…so why not let the fans decide what the judges should drink out of? It really is a phenomenal idea, since Coke already knows that AI fans enjoy interactivity and will get involved.

Log on to My Coke Rewards and Choose the Next Judges' Cup

Log on to My Coke Rewards and Choose the Next Judges' Cup

I wrote a post about crowdsourcing last month, and at the time I wasn’t sure how I felt about the practice. I have to say that, depending on the situation, crowdsourcing can be a great way for consumers to 1) interact with a brand, 2) “make their mark,” and 3) feel as though their opinion/voice/creativity matters. It truly is a win-win situation.

UPDATE: As of March 5, 2009 the Nielsen IAG Product Placement Activity Report shows that Coca Cola has the largest amount of product placement occurances on television (58) between Feb. 2 – March 1, 2009. The top show with instances of product placement? You guessed it.

Don’t Follow Those Paid Blogs

March 4, 2009 at 11:34 am | Posted in Web 2.0 Strategies | Leave a comment
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Today, a report by Forrester Research was released which discussed the use of paid blogs as a marketing tool. (If you have a spare $800 laying around, you can read the entire report!) A few weeks ago in class, we discussed the concept of corporate blogs and sponsored blogs and we came to the census that those blogs which are overly enthusiastic about a company or product are completely see-through. In order to establish a respectable sponsored blog, the blogger must give their unfiltered opinion of the product, whether good or bad.

The Google Spider has no time for sponsored blogs.

The Google Spider has no time for sponsored blogs.

Although it is always interesting to see news that relates to a class topic, the reason I was intrigued by the new Forrester Report is because it has received much criticism from Google. Ad Age says the report leaves out and important aspect of paid blogs- the “no follow” rule. Google requires any paid blog to be tagged “no follow” so the Google spider won’t count that post towards a site’s search ranking on Google. In short, Google does not want companies to be able to “purchase” posts in order to increase their search rankings.

This was an entirely new concept to me. I was not aware of the “no follow” rule, but it makes perfect sense to me. AS Google strives to become the most relevant search engine in the world, they must set rules which allows them to gather the most unbiased information possible. In other words, the wealthiest companies cannot buy out their smaller competitors on search engines. This makes for a level playing field on the business end while providing the most relevant information to the consumer.

Introducing Via…on Twitter!

February 22, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Posted in Web 2.0 Strategies | 1 Comment
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Starbucks' New Via Instant Coffee Line, Announced on Twitter

Starbucks' New Via Instant Coffee Line, Announced on Twitter

On February 17th, I loaded up my TweetDeck thinking it would be like any other day on Twitter. Some inappropriate jokes, some celebrity gossip, maybe even some pictures of a photographer otter. But, no, it was not like any other day.

9:53 a.m.

Starbucks announces on Twitter that it’s now offering INSTANT COFFEE in my state. Ok, ok, maybe it’s not as earth-shattering as the Rihanna/Chris Brown situation but still, this is a big step for Starbucks. My interest in the Starbucks tweet was not that they were announcing the brand, because there were emails and press releases that also went out. What I was very interested in was how Starbucks used their Twitter account throughout the day to answer consumers’ questions, offer free samples, and share pictures of the Via events.

Starbucks understands the power of social media, especially instantaneous sites such as Twitter. Those companies who are auto-following everyone who won’t block them, sending out 1-way advertising messages are NOT using Twitter to their advantage. In fact, they are becoming the new age spammers. But Starbucks has a solid understanding of the power social media in a marketer’s hands: it is the ultimate customer relationship tool. Use it wisely to answer questions, create buzz and involve customers with your brand and you’ll hit a home run.

Oh, and by the way- I ordered my free sample of Via. I’ll let you know how it is =)

The sky is falling! How to handle the blogosphere when the roof caves in.

February 5, 2009 at 5:01 pm | Posted in Web 2.0 Strategies | Leave a comment
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Were you on Twitter the day the music died for Motrin? In November 2008, Motrin posted an online ad on their website, chronicling the phenomenon of “baby wearing.” Using one of those little kangaroo pouches no doubt puts some strain on a mother’s back and neck, so what’s the problem?

The last line in the ad: “so if I look tired and crazy, people will understand why.” So….mom’s look crazy with their baby sling on? Not such a good idea, Motrin- don’t, I repeat: DON’T piss off the mommy market.

What ensued afterward was an all out uprising of mommies all over the Internet. Within hours, the most tweeted subject was #motrinmoms. Videos of outraged moms appeared on YouTube. Bloggers asked followers to boycott the brand. Did I mention this all occurred within a few hours?

#motrinmoms spread like wildfire across the Internet.

#motrinmoms spread like wildfire across the Internet.

When the ad agency who created the video ad was questioned, they admitted they didn’t know much about Twitter. Essentially, they had no idea that the brand they represented was being torn to shreds by the public, simply because they were not in tune with technology.

motrintweet

A Word to the Wise: Know Your Audience!

Motrin obviously knew that Moms are part of their target audience. What they didn’t know was that Moms have become ever-present on the Internet as of late. They blog about their children, they connect with other mommies on Twitter, and they start groups on social networking sites. Motrin made a tremendous mistake by not knowing this- they were not able to be prepared for what happened.

The Internet has dramatically changed the world of public relations, and more specifically crisis communications. The Web has given everyday people a platform to speak their opinion, find like-minded people, and wage an all-out war against companies. This doesn’t mean that all companies need to be terrified of Web 2.0. It simply means they need to be aware, and prepared.

Understand that the blogosphere and the world of social networking allows information to be exchanged instantaneously and to many people at once. Re-tweeting, posting to Digg, and linking in a blog can spread information faster than a, um, “cold” in a college dorm. Google Alerts and RSS feeds add to the speed at which news travels on the Web.

Bottom line: technology continues to evolve, and if marketers and public relations practicioners do not get on board, they’ll be left in dust wondering what in the world just hit them.

Calling All Designers!

February 2, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Posted in Web 2.0 Strategies | 5 Comments
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Need a website designed? Want a new logo? Not sure who you want to work with?

Put the job out for bid on 99designs.com!

99-designs-quote199designs utilizes the latest R&D method available: crowdsourcing. According to Wikipedia, “crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people or community in the form of an open call.” In laymen’s terms: it’s allowing the public to help a company in research, development and product design.

Using Web 2.0 For New Ideas

How would you like that gentleman in the front to design a new logo for you?

Companies like 99designs take full advantage of the concept that the world is flat by allowing people all over the world to connect and collaborate. Coordinating with people all over the globe means that the most creative ideas can finally come together in one place: the Internet.

But how do the creatives feel about the ability to collaborate like this?

99designs, founded by some SitePoint guys, uses inane web 2.0 vernacular (“crowdsourcing”), deceivingly open-armed design (“oh look, it’s a paper airplane icon! tee-hee!”), and the thin veil of “contests” to come across as a legit alternative to traditional business practices.

According to this post by Kevin Potts on graphicPush, 99designs is the anti-christ who steals the blood, sweat and tears from real graphic designers for a measly $200. His argument is valid: sites like 99designs cheapens the art of graphic design for everyone. The designs submitted are based on a creative brief created by the client, but the designer never has the chance to meet the client, learn about the business, and get a feel for the company’s brand.

As we’re learning in the IMC Program, cohesiveness in a brand is imperitive. So maybe these sites ARE the anti-christ? Or maybe they’re a great alternative for a start-up company without much expendible cash? The jury is still out.

What are your thoughts on crowdsourcing design work? Is it the next big thing, or is it destined to strip the world of talent as Potts argues?

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