Tag Archives: social media

A Winning Idea

27 Jan

Yesterday, Maude Hunter’s Pub posted a single Lottery ticket on their Facebook page and announced that they would share their winnings with everyone that ‘liked’ the post.

With a 50 million dollar pot on the line, the stakes are high – no pun intended. In less than 24 hours, the post has garnered 1,351 likes and 40 comments. For those keeping score, that’s about $37,000 for each person. You’ll have to hurry though if you want to get in on the action – the  numbers are drawn today at 6pm.

But, if we can stop planning out our future fortunes and refrain from pre-selecting our favorite friends for just one second, we can talk about what a brilliant social marketing tactic this is.  Many people wonder how Facebook ‘decides’ what to display on your news feed. Well, we know from social media speaker Jay Baer , it’s not random. There is actually an algorithm that dictates whose posts you see. The probability your activity will show up on someone’s page is based on 3 things:

1. Your affinity with the other party as a whole

Are you in pictures together? Do you have mutual friends? Are you posting on each other’s wall?

2. Your previous action with similar content

Have you liked, tagged, or commented previously on similar content?

3. Time

How long ago was the content created?

Hence, the more you like a brand’s page and like/comment on their posts, the more you’ll start to see their content flow through your news feed. From a marketing perspective, this is the winning ticket. It’s why you see brands transfixed on getting likes.

Red Bull's Like Us facebook pageI’ve written before that a blanket plea for likes just doesn’t cut it anymore. So, it’s refreshing to see some out-of-the-box thinking and content that actually warrants a click.  It’s not the first time too that Jaryd Zinkewich from Maude’s has impressed us with his marketing savvy. Check out the Pint for a Pic post.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to see a man about buying a pony.

Photo Credit: Jay Baer
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This is a 5 star blog post

21 Sep

This is a 5 star blog post… or is it a 1 star blog post? Well you’re reading it, you decide. The star rating is the grandfather of social validation and review mechanisms. Migrating from the hospitality industry it moved to the entertainment industry before slipping effortlessly onto websites where it makes perfect sense for our attention deficit, fragmented, time-poor online world.

Copeland image: The problem with star ratings.With a single click you can sum up your entire experience of a product, service, or entity and be off to your next online destination. Conversely, no time to investigate a product? Just check the star rating. Everyone wins? Well no, and for the typical implementation of star rating systems here’s why:

It’s too democratic
The leveling power of the Internet has done some wonderful things. Bypassing the media, it has given a voice to people where previously their frustrations and delight would be confined to a small circle of friends and peers.

Mainstream social media hasn’t addressed this yet, but its problem is that in many ways influence and positioning vastly overshadow experience & knowledge. That’s for another post, but in the context of star ratings it means that everyone has the same level of authority when they rate something. So what’s wrong with that?

Well, should you really be allowed to rate something if you’ve never actually bought the product or experienced the service yourself? Why should you have the power to influence others based on hear-say, or worse, in the pursuit of an ill-informed agenda? Especially considering your star rating is elevated to the same level of influence as someone who actually paid for the product or service.

A star rating for a meal or movie accounts for a passive activity with a very short timeline. Should it be applied to a complex product or service with which you interact for a period of months or years? The blanket democracy takes no account of whether you read the instructions, ignored the warnings, let alone whether you paid for the product.

It’s open to abuse
Running a campaign or launching a product? Why not just buy 5 star reviews. Or go the extra step and buy 1 star reviews to be applied to your competitors.

Electronic Arts suffered the wrath of agenda driven star rating abuse when they released Spore, a PC game with what was seen by consumers as having  draconian anti-piracy measures. An organised backlash resulted in 837 1 star reviews being posted on Amazon within days, many by people who had never bought the game. Maybe this was a fair rating of the anti-piracy features, but it tarred every aspect of the product with the same brush.

It amplifies inherent bias.
If you pass my imaginary gate for people who have actually paid for the product then we run into the next huge failing. Inherent bias.
If you’ve committed to the point where you shell out money for a product or service then you’re pre-disposed to like it. There’s also the documented need to validate our decision. If you’ve ever looked for a review of a movie after you’ve watched it, or searched for a product review for the gadget sitting next to you on your sofa, as I have, then you’re probably looking for approval via social validation. You’ll be inclined to leave a higher rating as a result.

At the other end of the scale are those looking to assuage their anger with a 1 star review. What star ratings don’t show is the vast majority of people who find the product satisfactory. Have you ever taken the time to rate, or review  something that you were mildly pleased with, or was satisfactory? This evangelism amplifies both end of the scale, leaving the middle ground in a vacuum. It’s the reason youtube is looking for alternatives to star ratings. And if they are I’d wager the big e-commerce sites are as well.

You hired a social media saboteur

24 Aug

social media saboteurSocial media strategies. All too often they appear to be ill-informed and poorly implemented. I suspect the working of social media saboteurs. This is how they work…

Client, in this case a Co-op: “We sell some great local products in our stores. We want to increase consumer awareness and appreciation of our supplier’s food products. We’re thinking of some sort of people’s choice award.”

Social Media Saboteur: “Building awareness eh? Well social media is huge right now so let’s run a contest using Facebook. We’ll ask people on Facebook to vote in a contest.”

Co-op: “Great, we already have a Facebook page, so I guess they vote with some kind of status updates maybe?”

SM Saboteur: “Well we could do that, but we’re going to use the Like button, that way we can trick people into receiving product updates.”

Co-op: “I see, well we do love the people who already Like our supplier’s products.”

SM Saboteur: “The real fans? We don’t want them to vote.”

Co-op: “er… what?”

SM Saboteur: “Nope, don’t need ’em.”

Co-op: “Well er… oh I get it, you’re suggesting we should focus on new audiences in other channels.”

SM Saboteur: [chuckles] “Of course not, why waste effort on an unknown entity? Everyone is on Facebook.”

Co-op: “So let me see if I’ve got this straight? We’ll run a contest for mildly engaged customers on Facebook. When they vote we’ll subscribe them to product updates. They’ll start loving the product and buy more?”

SM Saboteur: “Bingo!” [fires two imaginary pistols in the air and blows smoke from the barrels]

Sounds far fetched doesn’t it? Well this is exactly the perception I get when I looked at the Co-op’s Eat Atlantic Food product of the year award, One of a number of Co-op campaign initiatives currently running on the Canadian east coast.

The award component is being run as a public vote. And as is so often the case these days, the strategist appears to have defaulted to Facebook as the platform to run the competition. I’m not saying Facebook isn’t suitable for social marketing. If the product(s) and the goals align with the platform then it can be a match made in heaven, and in this case the products are actually better suited to Facebook than most, but in this case the goals and implementation fall far short of their potential.

I’ll explain and, acknowledging that just picking holes in something doesn’t really advance anyone’s knowledge, I’ll provide some ways the campaign elements might have been improved.

The saboteur’s aims:

To limit the reach:
In a news article in the Times and Transcript, Romeo Cormier, manager of public affairs at the Co-Op explains the Award are part of a campaign to:

“…raise consumer awareness and appreciation for the world-class food products made here in Atlantic Canada.”

A competitive vote is a perfectly acceptable way to motivate fans to spread the word, but the nominated products were solicited from existing Facebook fans and Facebook is used as the voting mechanism. In effect this is severely limiting the reach by only targeting existing fans on one platform.

Alternate strategy: Expand the reach of the contest. Provide each nominated supplier with a suite of tools and simple solutions to encourage them to get votes from their customers. Tweet badges for websites, suggested email copy for mailing lists, incentivise voters with a decent prize for a random voter for the winning product. Send sample packs of nominated products to influential East coast food bloggers. There’s a whole world beyond Facebook.

To exclude most of the voters:
To vote, you have to Like the product on Facebook. This seems like a great way to increase engagement by subscribing people to future updates, but there’s a huge failing here. Fans can’t vote if they’ve previously Liked the product. This is a huge mistake! It excludes brand ambassadors from voting. The very people who are going to wave the flag for you are the ones you want to activate and encourage.

An alternate strategy: If you’re targeting Facebook then the status update mechanism will allow anyone on Facebook to vote, existing fan or otherwise. More importantly, allow people to vote with the tools they’re comfortable with. A lot of people are on Facebook sure, but your biggest fans might not be. Make it easy for them and allow votes to be submitted from different platforms. There may be duplicate votes, but this can only expand reach which ultimately is the goal.

To give the favourites a head start.
The contest rules suggest that the winner will be decided by the most likes. The current contest leader had approx 700 Likes at the start of the contest. They can quite comfortably ignore the competition, go on holiday and still win by a landslide. Even more troubling is that the landing page always displays the nominees in the same order. Guess who is in the favored top spot on the page? Yup, the runaway favorite.

Alternate strategy: Level the playing field. You’re not going to build a competitive spirit by giving Michael Phelps a 90m head-start in the 100m freestyle. Set all the competitors at zero votes and introduce a way to track votes within the timeline of the competition, e.g. subject lines in email votes, SMS shortcodes, hashtags in tweets etc. This gives the smaller suppliers a chance in one arena that they can compete with the big boys; community engagement, and energising ambassadors with one-to-one communication.
When displaying the nominees, randomise the list for each site visitor, ensuring everyone get’s a chance to appear at the top.

To ignore the original goal
The voting page displays each nominee, a logo and the infamous Like button… and that’s it. Looking back at the original goal, the execution falls way short on the aims.

Alternate strategy:
Address the goal of promoting “appreciation for the world-class food products” right on the vote landing page. Alongside each product display customer testimonials, celebrate the local ingredients, get some product insight from the farmer/manufacturer. This is going to expose voters to a broader range of products and help fulfill the aim of raising consumer awareness.

Ultimately every aspect of the competition should be checked against the goals.

How useful is all that data on Facebook?

15 Jun

Indulge your ego for a moment. Imagine a distant future where you are an icon of our age. There is a museum dedicated to you. People come from around the world to discover who you were through the images, video, and words taken from records kept safe through the years by Facebook. As you picture the exhibits, what do they include? How would the future see you through the lens of your online identity?

Museum of Me Facebook Picture Wall

Intel’s “Museum of Me” is an innovative glimpse into what that might actually look like. By connecting to your Facebook account, the website creates a virtual museum tour dedicated to you. If you haven’t tried it yet, I strongly recommend it. The experience is quite thought-provoking.

However, what the software decided to include was unusual. There were friends who weren’t really friends, and phrases out of context. Some pictures I recognized, others held absolutely no meaning. If this was truly a “Museum of Me”, the patrons would now be mistaken about who I actually am, or was. And if this is based on data from Facebook, maybe Facebook doesn’t have a very good idea about who I am either.

With all the information available on my profile, can a metric or algorithm really capture anything truly insightful about me? Perhaps the usefulness in these mountains of data ends with micro-targeting.

As people we often get each other wrong. Misconceptions and false impressions, egos, vanity, and pride, they all confuse the world to who we really are. More of the same data doesn’t mean a better market profile; you need different sets of data to compare. No matter how big our online lives get, parts of them will remain offline. If you’re depending solely on Facebook and Google to describe your market, you’ll get a picture that’s incomplete and maybe even inaccurate.

Do you compare what you learn about your market online to what you know from other sources? If it doesn’t line up, who do you believe?

Blogging advice: Love it or leave it

18 May

Having regular, interesting content is vital to a blog. I read many but subscribe to few because I find intermittent content frustrating.

Nothing perplexes me quite like noting that a blogger only posts once a month. Or less often. Is there any point? Would you follow someone who only tweeted once a month?

Regularity, as Ed McMahon pointed out, is the key to happiness.

In order to achieve that you need to be a bit manic. You have to love blogging and wholeheartedly believe in it. If you don’t love it, don’t do it. Find someone in your company who does. Here are 7 great habits of professional bloggers by ProBlogger.

A friend of mine sent me this inspiring animated gif yesterday. It perfectly sums up the attitude needed to maintain a successful blog. It feels pretty Copeland to me. Be sure to click on it to watch it.

Know your social media potential

5 May

According to Edison Research and Arbitron (sourced on Convince and Convert):

51% of Americans use Facebook
8% use Twitter
4% use location-based services (eg, Foursquare)
(Americans 12+, 2011 data)

Assuming your B2C business has a diverse customer base that is not significantly more likely to be active in social media, some thoughts about social media initiatives fall out of this data.

You must have the raw customer numbers to justify devoting resources to social media. How many customers do you have? This is your potential social media audience. I’m assuming no-one (outside of the ad industry) is going to follow/‘like’ you unless they are a customer – why would they?* You can tweet every hour for a year, and not expect more than 8% of your current customer base to follow you.

Put potential audience before the potential of the platform. Foursquare offers a great opportunity for driving traffic, frequency, and loyalty. But is the investment in this tactic worth it when the potential is 4% of your customers? Could that Foursquare program you’re planning be adapted to something on Facebook?

You must have a valid reason for using Twitter over Facebook. You might personally prefer using Twitter. You might argue Twitter is better for giving regular updates than Facebook. But in making that choice, you are limiting your potential audience from half your customers to less than one in ten (unless you can effectively use both platforms).

The reason why national brands are more likely to use and be successful with social media isn’t big budgets but big audiences. They can afford to run a social media promotion – like the Foursquare promotion that Domino’s did in their 600+ UK stores which received 9,617 check-ins. At that rate, a local pizza shop running the same promotion would get 16 check-ins. And the investment in building the Foursquare program could very well be similar.

Based on this data, I think that the vast majority of local B2C businesses should concentrate their social media efforts on Facebook.

PS – but, you say, people are more likely to follow businesses on Twitter than Facebook. True, but the research shows 25% of people follow a brand on Facebook vs 5% on Twitter. Still a big spread.

PS2 – but, what if you are using social media to bring in new customers? the same rationale applies – do you want to talk to a potential 51% of the market on Facebook, or 8% on Twitter?

*yes, in theory, you should be providing valuable/interesting information that would appeal to customers or not – but really, non-customer fans have got to be a small minority. Ask someone who doesn’t work in the industry how many consumer brands they haven’t bought that they follow/‘like’.

Victoria’s Up and Comers, Part 6

24 Apr

This is the last in a series of 6 posts that hopes to bring some promising local grads and current students to the attention of the larger business community.

KAYODÉ WAN:  A brand nutter and a very social guy.

EDUCATION: MBA candidate (2012) Vancouver Island University

LINKEDIN: Kayodé Wan

TWITTER: twitter.com/brandnutter

Although the emphasis of this series has been on Victoria students, we shift our gaze north to the Island’s other university, Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, for the final installment.

In doing so, we encounter an energetic life-force known as Kayodé Wan.

He is not your conventional student.

A graduate of both Babcock University in Nigeria (Mass Communications) and Seneca College in Toronto (Brand Management), he is now pursuing his MBA in Marketing from VIU. He’s worked with distinction at TD Trust Canada and is currently putting in the part-time hours, while he studies, as the social media co-ordinator for Distility, a Toronto-based brand ID and design company.

He is also a regular provider of fascinating and uncensored opinions on Twitter under his @brandnutter alter ego.

He gets brands. He gets social media. So where do the two ultimately meet? If Kayodé has his way, he’ll be using his interest in both to steer consumer package goods for major multi-national companies like P&G, either from within an ad agency or on the client side.

Yup, he’s got big goals, but his feet seem pretty solidly terra firma.

“I know the importance of paying my dues,” he says. “I also realize that my values absolutely have to align with the values of the company I work for, or it’s just not going to work.”

A positive, pragmatic spirit who knows what he wants to do. How do we keep talent like this on the Island?