Well, I’ve reached the end of another semester here at WVU. This isn’t just any semester, it is my last semester. I’m finishing my Masters and moving on. A Ph.D. may be in my future, but not now. Now, I am going to find a job, go to work, get a puppy, and enjoy life with my husband!

I’ve learned a lot this semester. I’ve learned that video editing isn’t as easy as those Broadcast Journalism kids make it seem and that filming takes more skill than I had, but I got a little better.

Watch my video, I think it will explain things a little better.

Douglas Adams once said “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” I’ll just leave it at thank you and goodbye!

When you think of the name Slap Chop, you think of Vince and his overenthusiastic marketing efforts and the onslaught of YouTube videos that resulted from it. Well, I found a review for the Slap Chop that makes an honest effort at examining the actual product and its capabilities.

In his Slap Chop product review, Jack Scalfani, or Jakatak69, looks at how well the Slap Chop matches up to its advertising. I like how he stuck with relatively few camera angles for his video and kept everything clean, simple and uncluttered. His speech is really clear and he doesn’t try to insert humor, any humor that occurs in the video comes from his efforts to use the Slap Chop in the same way it was shown on television. Sure, he makes a comment about pounding nuts with a hammer, but he quickly pushes it off without going for the immature laugh.

He looks at a new product like most of us would, open up the box and see if it does what it claims to do. I really like how he approaches his reviews because he is calm and collected, not trying to snicker his way through what he’s doing. By doing his reviews in this manner, we actually get to see how the product works before we decide to buy it.

When I last checked, this video only had 140,626 views, so it is far from viral. It is understandable that it didn’t go viral because it doesn’t try too hard to be funny, but it just gives an honest review of the product. It doesn’t have any copycat videos either, though there are a multitude of videos that also review the slap chop.

This video didn’t really make me want to buy a Slap Chop because it seems like just another thing to wash. If you have to dirty a knife to cut everything down to a size that would fit in the Slap Chop, why not just go ahead and finish the job with the same knife? Sure, it would be great for people with arthritis or something, but I’ll stick with doing it the old fashioned way.

Heylia James, one of the characters on the hit Showtime series Weeds, once said “If it’s free it’s me and I don’t turn down nothing by my collar.” I like that. Free is good, particularly when you are trying to establish yourself in the real world. In the current economy, small businesses have to fight to get established in their own form of the real world. Everything costs more and people are choosing more carefully how they want to spend their hard earned money. That is what is great about social media marketing; it is available at little to no monetary cost to the marketers.

As technology adoption among small businesses increases, social media is an area that more business owners are becoming interested in. In fact, social media is predicted to see one of the biggest increases in online marketing spending this year, just behind website and e-mail marketing.

Social media allows small businesses to target their audience effectively and also communicate clearly and efficiently to address customer comments and concerns. I know I mentioned Tudor’s Biscuit World in an earlier post, but they are a great example of how social media marketing can be used to build a community around a business even when it hasn’t opened yet. Tudor’s knew its market. It knew that people had been hoping for fresh baked biscuit sandwiches that taste like home for so many in Morgantown. Tudors is prevalent in other areas of the state, but not here in Morgantown. With so many people coming to WVU from far away, a taste of home is sometimes the best thing.

The owners of the new Morgantown Tudor’s used Twitter to reach out to the community and provide updates on the progress of the renovation and get people psyched about the opening, even though it was pushed back over three months. This allowed Tudor’s to save face and react to the community begging for an opening date.

All business owners want to build a brand. That’s why it is important to stop for a little while and reflect on the brand that you are trying to establish and the reason why you chose this brand. There are a lot of companies wherein their personal brands became successful because they have either contemplated on how they want to be recognized by their market or maybe perhaps the company itself has gradually adapted their recent roles by experimentation, chance, or hard work.

Tudors established itself as a brand that cares about the community and one that listens to concerns. When I posted that I could really go for some Tudor’s and I hoped they would open soon, they responded quickly and tactfully with a positively toned message with a potential opening date.

As small businesses keep fighting to survive and we dig ourselves out of this recession, I believe we will see even more importance placed on social marketing and what it can offer to both marketers and audiences.

As always, if you have thoughts, questions, or comments, post them in the bubble!

Well, I’ve come to another semester’s end. It has been fun exploring more deeply into social media and how it can change our world. Social media metrics allow us to look into our social media campaigns and see what is working and what needs changes. Because of that, it’s kind of a big deal. I mean, without social media metrics and analytics, we would have no way to prove to our employers that it is worthwhile to participate in social media. I’ve been asked to answer a few questions as I wrap up the semester, so here they are.

What did you learn that you are particularly excited about?

I really liked looking at the differences between Facebook and Twitter and examining how they are different. There are so many people who say that they are the same thing and are used the same way, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Facebook is rather static with its comment threads and limited reach, but Twitter is like an ongoing conversation with your followers and those you follow. Twitter allows you to join the conversation about something without having to join a group about it. If you feel like talking about the Oscars one night and Tosh.O the next, you can do that without having your feed crammed with things you don’t really care about later.

What surprised you?

I’m going to be honest here. I really thought I would dread blogging on this topic, but it turned out to be kind of fun looking up what is going on in the world and adding my voice to the conversation. I liked to look at the social good aspects of digital marketing and web metrics, looking at what can be done and how to implement these campaigns. It was cool thinking about examples of what brands are doing wrong and who is getting it right.

What was your least favorite topic?

I absolutely dreaded setting up an AdWords account. For some reason, it just didn’t feel like something I wanted to do. I’m more of a create a campaign and use Facebook and Twitter posts to generate conversation kind of person and just throwing things out there in true ad form doesn’t generate conversation as much as it generates revenue or points people toward the website. I mean, I understand that it can help create brand awareness, but I just didn’t feel good about the assignment.

Do you plan on using information from this class in your professional or personal life?

I really hope taking this certificate program helps me get a job in May. I’ve been applying for a bunch of community relations jobs with healthcare organizations and here at WVU, so I’m hoping that I will be more hirable with this certificate. It is kind of a wait and see game for now. I hope I get to do something with social media in my grown up job, but right now I’ll just settle for a job interview, preferably one that leads to an actual job.

Well, I guess that’s it for the semester. I don’t know if we’ll be blogging next semester or not, but if anyone reads this blog, I hope you have enjoyed it and maybe I’ll write some more here in the future. I’m a terrible blogger, so no guarantees!

Thoughts, questions, comments? Leave them in the comment thingy!

Sometimes I really love this world we live in. We have created for ourselves a life of convenience and accessibility that was only science fiction a few years ago. In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams described a device called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as a handheld guide to everything. It could access anything you could want to know in seconds. The only thing that makes me sad is that Douglas Adams didn’t live to see the real world invention of such a fantastic item. Of course, we don’t call it the Hitchhiker’s Guide, no it goes by the name iPhone or Android. We can access anything our heart desires through our smartphones.

I can find out what is going on in the world, do my taxes, buy a new book, look at cats with silly sayings on them (LOLCats), or even seek our prophylactics. Yep, New York City has launched a new smartphone application that helps users find free condoms in their area. Let’s think about this, free condoms at the touch of your phone. Oh what a wonderful world we live in, indeed.

“The NYC Condom Finder is a useful tool to ensure that New Yorkers have access to free condoms wherever they are in the city,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “Using a condom every time you have sex protects you and your partner from contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Condoms also prevent unintended pregnancy. We encourage New Yorkers to stay safe on Valentine’s Day – and everyday – by using condoms.”

Sure, there are some problems that may interfere with the effectiveness of this program, but it is a great marketing and awareness opportunity that could do good through mobile technology. Free condoms are great and it is fantastic that they are openly accessible through this app, but is this targeting the right audience? One would assume that if someone can afford an iPhone or other smartphone, they would probably be able to afford some condoms. Well, that is most people who plan ahead.

What if you are out on the town and one thing leads to another? This app would be brilliant in that situation. Sure, your friends might think you are a dork for having it, but at least you aren’t exposing yourself to disease, or worse, an unwanted pregnancy. The application, available for download on the iPhone and Android phones, taps into the city’s database of over 1,000 different locations in the area which offer free condoms. The app uses GPS technology or an address input to give users directions to the nearest five places in the city that are giving out free condoms.

In addition to providing endless hours of amusement and boredom prevention, digital media has allowed marketers to reach out and provide services with a level of convenience never before seen. I am excited to see what comes next in this fantastic digital world of ours. Our smartphones have created a generation of people who are more connected and on the pulse than ever before. Will it peak soon or will the phenomenon continue to grow?

Thoughts? Comments? Leave them in the bubble!

Social media is a fantastic thing for marketers. It allows us to reach out and communicate with our audience in a way that is comfortable and familiar to them. Sure, sometimes our ads can be a bit obnoxious or invasive because of that, but for the most part we use social media as a fantastic resource that can solve so many of our problems. That is, until it bites us in the bum and we are left with a marketing mess on our hands.

Social media may seem sweet, but it can soon turn sour before you can do anything to stop it. Why is this? Well, user-generated content can lead to what has been dubbed “Badvocacy.” Yay, another buzzword for us to discuss and decipher. Well, as I’m sure you can figure out, badvocacy is when people use social media to sully your brand’s image. This could be for a multitude of reasons, whether they had a bad experience with the brand or because they have a vendetta because of company politics. Badvocates could be your basic dissatisfied customer or a previous employee who is out for revenge and chooses to use social media to “flame” the brand.

So, what do we do about these badvocates? Well, it depends on your situation and how your brand handles bad press. I’ve done a few studies of how brands use social media and I’ve made a few observations about their badvocates. Recently, news has come out about Target CEO donating a rather large sum of money to anti-gay organizations. News of this insighted outrage amongst many loyal Target customers, homosexual and straight.  Chick-Fil-A has also found itself in the same situation when customers heard of donations to the Winshape Foundation, an organization that opposes gay marriage.

These two brands chose to approach the issue in completely different ways. Target chose to allow the posts about the issue on their Facebook wall, while Chick-Fil-A chose to remove offending posts and post messages about such administrative discretion. The only conversation you can see on their Facebook wall talks about how the boycott hasn’t been effective and how customers are supportive of the cause despite the donations that have been made to the Winshape Foundation.

If you view the Target Facebook wall, you see a completely different picture. Target’s wall is littered with unhappy customers, complaining about shoddy products and an allegedly sketchy return policy. Target doesn’t remove these posts, instead they continue with their scheduled posting, trying to start conversations about the brand and its products, only to be flamed and torn down for their policies.

I don’t think either brand has handled this well. They are both acting like the issues don’t exist. These issues need to be calmly and rationally approached and dealt with while saving face for the brand’s image. If the image of  the brand can be changed in your badvocate’s mind, you can stop the cycle and possibly prevent others from becoming badvocates on your social media site.

As always, leave your comments in the bubble.

We live in a world that is more open and accessible than ever. Social media allows us to reach out and advocate for causes we may not otherwise be able to easily access through traditional media. Social media develops communities unlike any other form of media has ever been able to create because it defies time and space.

Beyond place, communities are formed by people who have a common purpose, a common cause, a reason to be together. Communities provide a sense of togetherness and belonging. Schuler (1996) states that “communities are the heart, the soul, the nervous system and the lifeblood of society. Communities provide mutual support and love in times of celebration and times of crisis” (p. 1). Also, in a community, people build relationships, whether it is forming friendships or finding professional connections. In a community, people are connected.

Recently, social media allowed a community to rise together and fight for what they believe in. On February 18, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to bar Planned Parenthood health centers from all federal funding for birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing, and other lifesaving care. Planned Parenthood utilized social media outlets, primarily Facebook and Twitter, to promote an open letter petition to the members of Congress, imploring them to prevent the bill from passing so that Planned Parenthood can continue to provide essential healthcare services to women.

It is hard to not focus on the politics of the matter because of the heated debate and the fact that I am a woman and I understand how important it is that women have access to preventative medical services, but that is not the point of this blog post. The point is that social media has opened doors that previously never existed and allowed a community of supporters to rise together and unite as one force unlike ever before.

The discussion generated through social networks allows for a vast array of viewpoints to come together, some positive and motivational, some negative and potentially harmful. “Online activist subcultures have materialized as a vital new space of politics and culture in which a wide diversity of individuals and groups have used emergent technologies in order to help to produce new social relations and forms of political possibility” (Kahn & Keller, 2004).

Through their ability to reach out through social media, this community has gained strength and can reach out to politicians, trying to sway their consciences and convince them to believe in their cause. This has been done by the clear utilization of popular social media platforms and the use of integrated marketing to create a consistent image throughout both the campaign and the Planned Parenthood site.

The ads deliver the message that more than 90 percent of the care that Planned Parenthood community health centers provide every day is primary and preventive including wellness exams, cancer screenings, immunizations, contraception and STD testing and treatment – making Planned Parenthood health centers essential community providers of care.

By delivering a consistent message that is accessible through multiple mediums, Planned Parenthood increases the likelihood of exposure and the chance that they will influence members of Congress to consider more closely before  they vote to defund the organization.

 

Thoughts? Opinions? Share them in the box down below!

 

 

 

References:

Kahn, R., Keller, D. (2004) New Media and Internet Activism: From the ‘Battle of Seattle’ to Blogging. New Media Society (6), 87-95.

Schuler, D. (1996) New Community Networks: Wired for change. New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. (1).



Scientists believe to have found the missing link! No, not that missing link, the link between social media marketing and ROI. There is really no point in what we do (digital marketing communications) if we can’t measure how well it is working. If we can’t measure what is working, then we can’t hand solid numbers to our bosses and go, “See? It was totally worth it!” Through analytics capable of tracking the ROI from digital campaigns, we can get a better look at where our efforts are hitting the target and where they consistently fall short.

I know that when I started studying this stuff, I had no idea what ROI is because I did well enough to stay awake in my Econ classes and owe my B in the course to a fantastic study group that pulled me through it by my hair. I still owe my friend a cake for her help. Let’s take a look at what ROI is so we can understand why it is so very important.

ROI is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. Return on Investment (ROI) analysis is one of several commonly used approaches for evaluating the financial consequences of business investments, decisions, or actions. ROI analysis compares the magnitude and timing of investment gains directly with the magnitude and timing of investment costs. A high ROI means that investment gains compare favorably to investment costs. So, when considering the ROI of a digital marketing campaign, it is important to look at how much it cost your business to implement the campaign and determine if it was really worth it. This could help the company determine whether the campaign was successful or if it needs to be revised or replaced.

Merely looking at how many friends or followers you have on your page isn’t a true read of the ROI of a campaign and common analytics can track the behavior patterns of your audience, but they don’t directly track how this is leading to a profit or benefit by the company. New analytics are being developed that hope to successfully track ROI and provide more solid information on whether or not campaigns are worthwhile.

If we have systems that provide us with solid numbers and we can show strong evidence that our work is worthwhile and, perhaps, our employers will allow us to remain employed! I would like to extend a word of caution, though. Not all analytics are right for everyone and not all information about your audience can be obtained through numbers. While ROI analytics would be an incredible asset, marketers need to remember to listen and learn as the audience speaks. Simply writing campaigns to generate revenue isn’t how social media works. Social media works because it is an avenue for interested audience members to reach out and communicate with the company. Listen, learn, measure, and react. ROI analytics will allow us another way to measure and determine how to react.

Thoughts, questions, concerns? Give me a holler in the bubble above!

So, last time I talked about the ads that generated the most buzz during the Super Bowl and the failstorm that was the Groupon spot making light of the situation in Tibet. Well, Groupon has responded with a resounding, “We were saying that we help these people, you just didn’t get it!” Ok, Groupon, where is the obvious message of assistance in this spot?

Groupon says they didn’t intend to offend and they “take the causes we highlighted extremely seriously – that’s why we created this campaign in partnership with many hallmark community organizations, for whom we’re raising money at SaveTheMoney.org.” Well, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, don’t they? Groupon has managed to offend and alienate a large portion of its customer base and cause a social media disaster in the process.

“Regardless of intentions, customers are offended. The disconnect, it seems is that it is unclear from the advertising spots that Groupon is actually giving money to the causes it mocks. Most people can handle a good-natured parody of a Sally Struthers “Save the Children” ad, provided that at the end of the spot the viewer knows that the underlying cause is actually benefitting.”

So, let’s look at the cycle here. Groupon conceives some terrible commercials and airs them during the most watched sporting event in America. Super Bowl viewers are offended by the ads and start Tweeting and Facebooking about it, causing the topic to become a trend. The next day, Groupon puts out a statement that they don’t understand why people are so up in arms about the ad. Let’s see what Twitter has to say now.

Well, despite Groupon’s lackadaisical response to the audience’s discontent, not much has changed. Tweeters are still upset about the offensive ad, even to the extent of a negative reaction from China. Good job, Groupon, China is angry. Let’s read that story, shall we? http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/02/07/china.super.bowl.ad/ Ouch. It appears that Groupon is not only losing it’s audience, but also it’s participating businesses.

“They need to steer clear of politics, race and religion because it can backfire,” Ally told CNN. “And that’s what happened here. This will actually damage their brand in the U.S. and more importantly it will damage their brand in China.”

Groupon is going to have to work on their image for quite some time to dig themselves out of this mess. They are an online company that chose to run an ad that many found offensive, causing an Internet backlash. One of the unwritten rules of the Internet is “once something is on the Internet, it is on the Internet forever.” There will always be a record of this event for people to find when they are researching the company or looking back at Super Bowl ads from previous years. As long as people are mad about this, they will talk about it and as long as they talk about it, the more Groupon will be dragged through the mud.

Groupon is going to have to practice some pretty intense brand image monitoring in the months to come to recover from this, but I’m not sure if they will. They don’t see that they’ve done anything wrong.

What do you think? Will Groupon put forth the social media marketing efforts required to recover from this, or will they just plug along like nothing ever happened?

Leave your responses in the bubble next to the title and until next time, stay awesome.

 

Last night, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost the Super Bowl. I was raised a Steelers fan and I think my grandmother might disown me if I cheered against them. They fought and almost won, but a series of turnovers and injured players prevented that from happening. However, the night wasn’t a total loss for this Pittsburgh fan. The Super Bowl means some of the year’s best commercials air and the day after, we get to talk about them and discuss what they mean in the wonderful world of buzz.

I found this awesome infographic on Mashable.com and thought I’d discuss it with you today.

This infographic shows what brands have the most pre-game buzz on Twitter, so I want to look at how that buzz turned out. Did the content cause a marketing fiasco, or did it help the brand rise above and lead in the buzz scene? I’m going to do this by simply searching Twitter and

Volkswagen

Ahh, the people’s car. Let’s see what the people thought of their Super Bowl ads.

It appears as though Volkswagen hit the mark with their Super Bowl marketing spots. Audience members felt the Darth Vader kid was “awesome” and the “dung beetle on cocaine” (@pagesofle) made the audience laugh. Star Wars fans seem to be coming out in droves to compliment the brand on its advertising and the use of the dark Star Wars idol.

Audi

Good job, Audi! Way to get the Twittersphere talking positively about your brand. Comments range from simply listing the commercial amongst their favorites to discussing how there was a clear smack to the face of Mercedes. Negative comments are few and far between and it appears this luxury automaker has hit the spot.

Groupon

The Groupon ad was, in my humble opinion, quite offensive. It took Tibet, which has suffered years of oppression, and practically laughed in its face. Let’s see what Twitter users have to say.

Ouch. Yes, Groupon did indeed cause a Tweetstorm of epicly bad proportions. Let’s look at what a few people had to say about their incredibly damaging ad.

Looks like our Tweeters give Groupon a resounding no. This isn’t the kind of buzz one hopes to generate with a Super Bowl commercial and now we just need to wait and see how they handle this marketing fiasco. Perhaps that will be the topic of my next blog. We’ll see.

Best Buy

I guess not even the combination of rock legend Ozzy Osbourne and current pop singer Justin Beiber could cause much of a buzz around Best Buy in the Twittersphere. The atmosphere is a little warm, talking about how funny the ad was and how Beiber was called a girl, but there doesn’t seem to be much talk about the ad itself, just buzz about how Best Buy will soon be rolling out the iPhone 4 in its stores.

A few people have posted links to the ad, but there isn’t much talk about what happened in it or any sentiment about the brand itself. I’m not so sure this ad was all that successful, despite its smattering of famous faces.

Let’s look at just one more.

Doritos

Did this finger-licking, pants-sniffing ad hit the mark or leave viewers with a bad taste in their mouths?

Well, the Tweets have spoken and Doritos seems to have hit the spot with their ads. Direct mentions of which ad was their favorite and the liberal use of the word “win” has shown that Doritos continues to be a Super Bowl favorite.

While I found it a little more than silly that sprinkling Doritos on dead things can bring them back to life and I’d probably smack someone for licking the radioactive cheese off my fingers, I guess the rest of the Doritos fanbase thought these bizarre actions were funny.

Good going Doritos, your mix of bizarre and brand has once again proven successful.

What did you think about the Super Bowl XLV ads? Put your thoughts, questions, and feedback in the bubble above!