Tag Archives: twitter

Lady Gaga Sends My Blog Stats Skyrocketing

I guess I wasn’t the only one watching the new music video for Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s single Telephone. In just twelve hours after its release, the video garnered half-a-million views… and I counted for at least seventeen of them.

Compared to my Wyoming ski-bum friends, my level of fanaticism for Lady Gaga is relatively high. But apparently it’s pretty average when compared to the rest of the American population. I say this because my blog somehow attracted an unprecedented 972 views on March 13, its hottest day ever, due to my recent post on National Lady Gaga Day.  When Gaga’s video hit the web on march 7, Fans of Brands popped up in online searches for Lady Gaga, funneling hoards of viewers to my site. With my average of 35 views per day, I was shocked to see to 385 views on March 8th, then 534, 538, 568, 812, peaking at  972 on March 13th.  After another week, the Gaga traffic has finally slowed, and I’m back to my normal level of daily hits.

All I have to say is: HOLY TELEPHONE, GAGA. I get the point of linking my blog posts to newsworthy topics, but after all this attention I wonder if it would it be worth ditching the social-media-meets-branding thing and turning my site into a straight-up Lady Gaga fanpage?

I’ll leave you, my 972 viewers, with this link to the Telephone video on MTV.com. The video totally blew my mind, and I know I contributed to its viral status when I texted, emailed, facebooked, and twittered to all of my networks and friends to stop whatever else they were doing to watch it for themselves. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look and let me know if you think it’s worth the hype.



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A Little Bird Told Me that Twitter Hired a CFO

We love social media sites, but how successful would Facebook and Twitter be if we had to pay to use them? Part of the appeal of social media is that you can be as active or inactive as you want; the site is going to be free whether you spend hours a day browsing for new Twitter followers, or if you only look at your Facebook notifications once a week. However, I might be a little hesitant to update my status seventeen times a day if it cost me forty-nine cents each time. These companies know this, so they have to rely on other avenues to generate revenue.

One of the biggest difficulties facing social media sites is monitization of their services. Because forums like Faceebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon are free, revenue generation doesn’t necessarily correspond with number of users.  It’s too bad, because the number of members for these sites is vast. Facebook boasts over 400 million users, and while Twitter doesn’t release data on its membership base, it is one of the top fifty sites visited on the web, and according to Nielsen, the third most popular social media site. It seems a little unfair that these companies can’t capitalize simply based on the sheer number of users, but have to find other, more creative ways to generate revenue.

It’s actually kind of ironic that sites like Facebook and Twitter are what’s killing the traditional advertising model, yet Facebook relies on advertisers just like any other website. On the other hand, Twitter has remained ad-free. That is why I’m interested to see what happens now that the company has appointed a new CFO.

Ali Rowghani, current CFO and senior VP of strategic planning at Pixar Animation Studios, will join Twitter in March, bringing his financial expertise to the microblogging service. According to Twitter CEO Evan Williams, “Ali will be an important member of a growing team focused on creating value for our users and capturing the financial opportunities that result from it. His thoughtfulness on retaining a great culture to work and staying consistent with your principles will also be a significant contribution.”

But how will the site change with Rowghani capitalizing on these “financial opportunities?” Will he maintain the ad-free integrity of the site? Will users be able to pay to write tweets longer than 140 characters? Who knows! But paid accounts and new advertising models can’t hurt the company, which has generated over $150 million from venture capital and is valued at $1 billion, but has only generated $400,000 in revenues the third quarter of 2009. As is, the long-term financial viability of the site is not maintainable. I think tweeters everywhere hope that Rowghani can find a model that increases profitability for the site, allowing members to tweet for free, and to their heart’s content.

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Sweethearts Candy’s “Tweet Me” Message is Short and Sweet

I love Valentines Day. Not only because it happens to be my birthday, but also because it’s a bright spot in the otherwise bleak month of February. In the midst of the coldest month, I love walking into stores festooned with sparkly heart and cupid decorations, eating pink and red m&m’s, and receiving hand-made valentines penned on delicate doilies. I resent those people claiming to be “anti-valentines day” and consider this stance a personal affront (it’s my birthday, come on!).

This is also why I love the new partnership between Twitter and Sweethearts candies. As of today, Sweethearts, the 145 year-old brand whose heart shape, pastel colors, and “kiss me” messages have become a symbol of February 14th, will this year include a new message: “tweet me.” The new message will launch in tandem with an iPhone app whereby users can send their valentines a personalized electronic Sweethearts box that will be displayed on the recipients twitter page.

The campaign feels like a logical pairing: Sweethearts have always been up on the latest technology trends (remember “fax me?”), and Twitter is one of the fastest growing and most relevant social media platforms in use today. Both brands are based on sending short messages where brevity is key. While I tend to prefer long, detailed love poems where my valentine pontificates on all my best qualities, nothing gets the message across like those chalky little candies. Even “I love you” in under 140 characters will do when my lover is tweeting my praises to his entire social network. I’m hoping my valentine is clued in to this branding and social media partnership, and that a “Happy Birthday/Valentines Day” message appears on my twitter page come February 14th. Until then, I’ll be picking through all 80 messages in the Sweethearts box to find the new “tweet me” candy to send him. Hint, hint!


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Texting During a Crisis: The January 12 Earthquake in Haiti

Next to the devastating  7.0 magnitude earthquake that shook Haiti on January 12,  social media may seem trite.  Until it helps raise millions of dollars in disaster relief funds, that is.  With a new texting campaign, The Red Cross has currently generated over $5,000,000. The simplicity of this viral campaign is what’s made it so successful:  users text  “Haiti” to 90999 to make donations of $10 to the Red Cross. Contributions are tacked on to donors monthly phone bill, and funds are backed by the United States State Department. The organization is garnering tons of media attention for its expedient efforts to raise aid money, as the campaign has reached viral status as it appears on twitter trending lists. It has clearly inspired action and support from the American people as the total dollars in donations continue to rise.

But even as texting has been one channel of relief for earthquake victims,  the lack of text and phone reception has been a major problem in the aftermath of the earthquake. Service providers and phone lines have been overloaded with victims and families trying to contact one another.  Phone calls and texts can barely make it through the clogged satellite channels, and it was (and still is!) nearly impossible for family members and loved ones to get in touch with one another.  News channels are encouraging survivors to send texts messages, which have a higher rate of reception. In response, T-Mobile has dropped all charges for texts and phone calls to/from Haiti until the end of the month. Many other service providers have dropped charges for text messages that provide donations to the Red Cross as well.

During a crisis, it is easy to see how important it is to have open lines of communication. When an organization can utilize these connections, public response is more powerful, and relief can be provided more efficiently.

To learn more about how you can help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, go to http://www.redcross.org/ or text “Haiti” to 90999.

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Social Media + Free Chair = Ground Score!

What’s the difference between dumpster diving, ground scoring, and a marketing campaign?  Apparently, not much. While dumpster diving is when someone actually roots around a dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant looking for “leftovers,”A ground score is when someone in an upscale urban neighborhood leaves old books, furniture, or other miscellany on the sidewalk – it is technically “garbage” but is still perfectly usable – and you, the lucky passer by, spot the item and take it home. It is a perfectly acceptable form of urban furniture shopping, practiced by many reputable and classy New Yorkers… myself included! Sometimes the previous owner leaves a sign that says “take me” or “I work!” (if it’s something like a TV or a fan), but mostly there is no sign – just a slightly used end table or desk lamp just waiting to be given a second chance in a new home. I found my shoe rack this way, and have left many an ikea book shelf on the sidewalks of New York – they’re usually gone within 5 minutes.

The real difference between dumpster diving and ground scoring is that you can turn ground diving into an effective marketing like these guys did. A furniture company called Blu Dot apparently knows of the New York City ground scoring phenomenon, and left 25 of its best selling chairs,  each tagged with a covert GPS tracker, on the streets of Manhattan. The company then filmed New Yorkers making off with the supposed garbage, thus turning trash into treasure.

The social media component of the campaign was that Blue Dot twittered the location of the chairs. But, this part of the plan was abandoned – too many Blu Dot fans and “design freaks” were following the twitter campaign and deliberately hunting down chairs. This foiled the authentic, spontaneous part of the project: Blue Dot wanted footage of real New Yorkers discovering the chairs, picking them up and carrying them home as though they had found someone elses’s garbage. The video and results of this performance-piece style marketing campaign will be broadcast in the company’s Soho store this week.

To read more, check out The NY Times Magazine wrote about it in this week’s edition of Consumed by clicking here.

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Tweet for Cash!

Social media is a great medium to market products, but twitter ads?  It’s a trend I’ve seen popping up lately, and I’m not the only one noticing. The NY Times wrote about it this weekend in their article A Friend’s Tweet Could Be an Ad. The basic concept is that companies target “influencers” (people with a ton of followers – think celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, John Mayer, and Ellen) to tweet about their product. Another company called Tweet for Cash is a program you can purchase that teaches you how to make money by twittering. A friend forwarded me this article (which is really an ad for Tweet for Cash disguised as an article… tricky tricky) about how an unemployed fast food worker now makes over $10,000 a month just by posting links on twitter.

The controversy arises because this concept dilutes the “authenticity” of Twitter. No one wants to be bombarded with ads in her social media conversation, and followers can probably easily see through the paid-for ad-tweets. I suppose it’s smart for companies to target key influencers on Twitter to help get their message out, but I also have to wonder if this is the smartest tactic. I’m not saying they shouldn’t do it, or that it’s an ineffective strategy for marketing. It’s just not believable. It’s just that if tweets aren’t coming from an authentic place, they feel low-grade and the whole process feels kind of unscrupulous. Then again, no one ever said Twitter was a place to engage in genuine, quality, thought provoking conversation – the whole premise is built on an in-one-ear-and-out-the-other mentality.

So, go ahead, Tweet for Cash! Why not! Mix those paid-for tweets in with your quotations from Nitche and Ghandi, and your profound reflections on life! I’ll forget about it just as fast as you can tweet it.

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Can Social Media Be Bad for Brands?

As someone who is interested in the intersection between branding and social media, I am also an advocate of social media as a marketing tool. There is a whole world of cutting edge techniques out there that can help brands connect with their consumers. Interacting with the consumer, updating them on news, offers, promotions, generating buzz – these are all things brands want to do. Right?

But when, if ever, is it not necessary or not appropriate to utilize social media as a brand building technique? Is it ever unnecessary? Can it actually even be damaging?

In some instances, it may not make sense for certain companies and/or brands to use social media. It may be superfluous if it’s not the most effective way to reach their target market. I’m thinking of very small businesses with walk-in clientele in high foot traffic areas. Out of the company’s marketing budget, the most cost-effective way to drive business and generate buzz may be to hand out fliers, distribute price menus or advertise special promotions/offers/coupons on paper. While it is always important to have a website for prospective customers to find out more about your brand, if taking the time to generate buzz via social media is simply not the most effective way to reach your consumers, and the time it takes to craft this kind of marketing campaign may be an unnecessary expense.

But when can social media actually be damaging to a brand?

If the campaign is not thought through and executed by the brand’s marketing team, the results can be negative, and even generate unfavorable buzz for the brand. Bombarding the consumer with constant annoying reminders with too much information, propagating annoying and pointless updates, and over-sharing (the dreaded “TMI”) can create a negative brand perception. Brands should craft their message to reflect their core values, and always speak in their own carefully constructed tone of voice. Updates should always consist of relevant, useful, surprising or exciting information, and over-sharing should be avoided, lest the brand’s target customer get irritated and unsubscribe from the newsfeed… or even worse, start generating bad buzz for the brand.

That leads us to a possible negative consequence of branding and social media. If a brand’s product, service, etc. is not up to consumer’s standards, the consumer is going to be disappointed. Sometimes they may even be angry. And bad buzz can spread just as quickly as good buzz. Think of the Jetblue debacle in 2007. After a storm caused cancellations and delays of hundreds of flights,  rather than put their passengers in hotels for the night, Jetblue kept them on runways, for over 10 hours in some cases. While consumers weren’t surprised that an airline would do this sort of thing, they were surprised that the airline in question was Jetblue, a brand built primarily on customer service. So Jetblue had a major PR crisis on their hands, and they needed to act quickly to undo the major damage done to their brand image. They to sincerely apologized to consumers and promptly revamped their Consumer Bill of Rights. And now, they closely monitoring social networking sites for anything that’s being said about their brand.

Jetblue, whose Twitter account has over a million followers, also has a small team of marketers who manage the brand’s presence on Twitter. This October a woman tweeted from Seattle’s airport that Jetblue’s birthday present to her was that they forgot to bring her a wheelchair. Within minutes, Jetblue tweeted their apology, and notified the flight’s crew to quickly right the situation.

Snapshot 2009-10-24 18-54-51

Social media is a forum for brand buzz in general, and companies need to closely monitor these networks to keep an eye on what’s being said about their brand. Brands need make sure their own messaging and campaigns are relevant, exciting, and actually newsworthy. Companies also need to keep a close eye on what consumers are saying about their brand. By being aware of the message, the brand can head off negative brand buzz, or even listen to what consumers are saying and make necessary changes to their product or service.

So we see that while sometimes social media may not be necessary for all types of businesses to build brand their brand, the buzz generated by social media needs to be closely monitored, lest a company’s service or offering generate negative perceptions in the marketplace.

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