Posted by: csteller | October 21, 2009

Social Media for Social Good

beatcancerRecently non-profits have been utilizing social media for charitable causes. Perhaps the most notable recent example is Drew Carey’s bid of $1 million for the Twitter name @drew, with all of the proceeds being donated to cancer research.

With BeatCancerEverywhere campaign, a social media fundraising effort was underway looking to set a Guinness Book World Record “for the distribution of the largest mass message through social media” in a 24 hour period.

For every tweet, Facebook status update, or blog post containing the #beatcancer hashtag, eBay/PayPal and MillerCoors donated 1 cent to cancer research. With a captive audience of social media users, the hope was that the campaign would go viral and raise significant money for charities. These groups included: Stand Up for Cancer, Bright Pink, Spirit Jump, and Alex’s Lemonade.

Guinness World Record confirmed the success of the campaign, which at 209,771 mentions in a single day achieved an estimated 100 million overall impressions of the #BeatCancer message. Not only did the campaign set a newly-developed world record for online impressions, but raised over $70,000 in the process from its financial sponsors.

I think I feel a tear running down my cheek, I need a tissue. Someone? Anyone? FYI – I like Puffs Plus.

Posted by: csteller | October 19, 2009

Big Brother is Watching You!

cia_floor_sealAccording to Wired Magazine the CIA’s technology arm In-Q-Tel has invested an undisclosed sum in Visible Technologies, a firm that provides software to companies like Microsoft for social media monitoring.

According to Wired, the investment is “part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using “open source intelligence” – information that’s publicly available, but often hidden.” The current plan is for the CIA to use the technology to monitor International intelligence shared in public channels to get an early edge on what’s being shared and communicated by influential voices. In addition, funds from the deal apparently will be allocated towards enhancing the foreign language monitoring capabilities of Visible Technologies.

From the report:
“Of course, such a tool can also be pointed inward, at domestic bloggers or tweeters. Visible already keeps tabs on web 2.0 sites for Dell, AT&T and Verizon. For Microsoft, the company is monitoring the buzz on its Windows 7 rollout. For Spam-maker Hormel, Visible is tracking animal-right activists’ online campaigns against the company.

“Anything that is out in the open is fair game for collection,” says Steven Aftergood, who tracks intelligence issues at the Federation of American Scientists. But “even if information is openly gathered by intelligence agencies it would still be problematic if it were used for unauthorized domestic investigations or operations. Intelligence agencies or employees might be tempted to use the tools at their disposal to compile information on political figures, critics, journalists or others, and to exploit such information for political advantage. That is not permissible even if all of the information in question is technically open source.”

Do you think Osama bin Ladin is tweeting in a cave somewhere? The social arena has no limits and restrictions on content. What is next in National Security?

Posted by: csteller | October 16, 2009

“Say Yes To The Dress” Goes Mobile

BRIDES-Dressing-Room-iPhone-App-250BRIDES Magazine recently launched an iPhone app called BRIDES Dressing Room. Through Brides Dressing Room, users can browse wedding and bridesmaid dresses and sort by silhouette, designer or price – then, of course, check availability and schedule an appointment with a local bridal shop for consultations and fittings.

Users of the application can also e-mail a photo of a wedding gown or bridesmaid dress to friends to get their feedback. The publication says it is the first magazine in its category to launch a mobile application.

Alison Matz, Publisher of BRIDES, stated, “Advertisers have come to expect innovation from this magazine and we are delighted to provide another access point to the consumer. We are already working on plans to add more channels to the application and look forward to bringing further innovation to the market.”

The BRIDES Dressing Room app was created by NearbyNow, a unique digital shopping concierge service that empowers consumers to search online — from their computers and via innovative mobile applications — for the most convenient local source for their favorite products and brands.


As you can see from the iTunes app page image above, the Dressing Room seems to be split 50-50 on usability reviews. I am very thankful I am not getting married anytime soon, my mother would be all over this digital tool. Gun please!

Posted by: csteller | October 14, 2009

Sharpie’s Social Story

logo-sharpie-homeSharpie’s has an interesting social media campaign. Sharpie markers? Yes! They have built a very successful social media strategy. Their online community – Sharpie: Uncap What’s Inside is a dedicated creative and fresh portal that features photo galleries of fan and user artwork. Check out some of these products artfully decorated with a sharpie.






Can you imagine the creativity, time and dedication it took some of Sharpies’ customers? I am no Vincent van Gogh myself, but this is even making me fell inspired to doodle.

If Sharpies can do it and create a vibrant community where people create the most amazing art and post photos/videos/talk about it, then why can’t you? Sharpie’s is on all major social media sites. Go check out their page and look at all of the communities the company has profiles within.

The Sharpie Twitter page features an employee by the name of Susan (heads up digital public relations) who tweets about supporting breast cancer awareness by purchasing the organization’s hot pink markers.

The Sharpie Flicker account displays images of customers’ artwork and even colorful body tattoos. You can see all things people are doing with Sharpie’s on their YouTube channel as well as their Facebook fan page.

This is a great example of how creating a showcase for people who use your product is advancing brand exposure and merchandise coolness.

Posted by: csteller | October 12, 2009

Powerpoint Plugin

There now is a Twitter plugin for Microsoft Powerpoint that basically lets you insert one of 4 live twitter feed apps into your Powerpoint slides starting with a scrolling twitter ticker bar right through to a live crowd meter, voting tool and feedback slide.

It’s all controlled by @names or #hashtags and it brings everything live into your powerpoint slides. This is a great tool for presenters at conferences and meetings. The speaker can integrate audience comments and live votes to enhance the conversation to be more interactive and inclusive.

Critics might suggest that monitoring the feedback is counter intuitive to what a speaker should be doing: focused on presenting. Yet, I’d argue that some power has shifted to the audience –and with that comes responsibility of the speaker to respond to the power shift. The only cons I see to this plugin is that there could be some live negative backlash. If you are not a good public speaker I would recommend refraining from using this tool. Though, in the overall sense presenters can adapt and shift their agendas/topics to reflect more of what the attendees are wanting to hear about. I love the interaction and the need for improvisation from the stage. I think it makes for better presentations and keeps the room engaged.

Below is a paper on “How People are using Twitter During Conferences”:

Posted by: csteller | October 10, 2009

The Twittering Taco Truck

Move over Taco Bell, there is a new trend in town, and best of all it’s worth the chase. The LA Times recently covered the story of the Kogi taco truck’s use of Twitter to promote their business. It’s a fun story, and offers some ideas to small businesses with engaged audiences.

The concept was the brainchild of Mark Manguera, who enlisted friends and family to begin blogging, branding and Twittering on his behalf. According to the article, “the roving vehicle has emerged as a social-networking juggernaut, drawing 300 to 800 people each time it parks (often several times in an evening) and spawning a burgeoning cyber-hippie movement affectionately referred to as ‘Kogi kulture.’ ”

This is a great example of the true power of instant communication to cultivate a business following. I think customers get a “high” on hunting down which corner the truck will be parked at next. The Kobi Twitter page has 45,000+ followers. The taco vehicle had become so popular that it has spawn a second truck (nickname is #2). Genius! Below is a Newsweek video on how a California entrepreneur meshed Korean bbq and Mexican tacos with the World Wide Web to make an American buck.

There is a red hotdog truck that comes to my office park every summer during lunch but it definately doesn’t have this following!

Posted by: csteller | October 4, 2009

Blogger Payola

federal-trade-commission-ftc-logo_jpgThe Federal Government is requiring full-disclosure from paid bloggers and celebrities on Twitter. The practice of sponsored blogging is in for some new regulation from the US government. Ad Age reports that the Federal Trade Commission has voted to “require bloggers to clearly disclose any ‘material connection’ to an advertiser, including payments for an endorsement or free product,” starting December 1, with fines up to $11,000. The new rules also govern celebrity endorsements.

Ad Age calls the new rules “the most far-reaching attempt to stamp some guidelines of conduct on the blogosphere, which generally operates according to informal codes and the notion that ‘inauthentic’ bloggers — including those not disclosing commercial relationships — will suffer in the web’s court of public opinion.”

The group who will be most caught off-guard is likely to be celebrities, rather than average users. Ad Age reports that:

…celebrity endorsers can be held liable for false statements about a product, and all endorsements must include results consumers can “generally expect.” Previously, an advertiser could cover their claims by the disclaimer “results not typical.” […]

Seeming Ashton Kutcher has the most followers on Twitter… 3,773,735 to be exact, I will sit by my computer 24/7 and monitor every tweet the actor types. This will ensure there is no reference to Nikon cameras or Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses, and if he mentions the brand names I will just call the FTC myself. Problem solved…Next.

Posted by: csteller | October 1, 2009

Advertising Superstars

Most Americans don’t think their particularly affected by adverts, but it can’t be for nothing that the advertising industry monitors the publics buying habits, and spends billions of dollars researching which are the most effective ways of influencing us. We probably like to think that we’re too smart to be seduced by such “branding,” but we aren’t. “Familiarity breeds liking.” When products are essentially equivalent, people go with what’s familiar, even if it’s only familiar because they know its name from advertising.

Think of those commercials we can never seem to get out of our heads. Each one is the brain child of an industry expert and typically associated with saturation and manipulation. One film I would like to get my hands on is Doug Pray’s documentary Art & Copy. His video elaborates on key artistic types that were successful in their careers because of non-traditional ways of thinking. Though the average person wouldn’t know their names, they have substantially impacted our lives through cultural influence.

For those suited for the art of advertising, there is room for you. Original ideas are the future. As entertainment value within ads gains importance, the ability to create “a dialogue with customers…a story that involves a listener” is crucial. With emerging media gaining popularity, the skill set to become a professional communicative conversationalist is much desired from ad agencies and elite marketing firms.

Posted by: csteller | September 28, 2009

Pizza Pizzazz!

domlogocolorDomino’s Pizza is king when it comes to enticing customers appetites. Its convenient mobile website ordering process is an added value in comparison to mom and pop pizza joints. The portal has a “Build Your Pizza” were users are shown what they are ordering by product photography. You simply select the type of dough you want, toppings, etc. and the images change to reflect your preferences. This is a useful tool to display exactly what I ordered instead of placing the order via phone. The “Pizza Tracker” element is a bonus feature; here customers can view how long until their custom cheesy pie arrives. Once you order, the system also saves the selection so return users can decide to be a repeat offender and reorder “the same old, same old” or build a whole new pizza.

As an organization you could not ask for a better way of capturing customer data and creating unique promotions based on gender, sex, age, geography, order history, etc. This information is a lead generation and tracking goldmine. In order for the customer to make a purchase the fields are required, though the capturing is non-intrusive. The user is so hungry they just want their food. Domino’s does not have to beg or dig for the info like some of the rest of us.

This is what we are all learning right now, in order to reach customers you need to expand your traditional messaging communication vehicles and think outside the box. I think that the pizza company has one of the strongest franchise marketing campaigns in recent years. Involving customers in their purchase, on-the-go, at-home, or online makes for strong brand building and good customer relationship management.

Posted by: csteller | September 25, 2009

Video Killed the Radio Star

With rapid increase in online video sharing and watching dedicated sites like YouTube and Hulu, there is an argument to be made for technology birth and death. As technology advances sites like uShow have leaped forward in relevant online video discovery and sharing by developing a simple service to let users automatically find the videos of people they follow, cue up precise moments within them that are worth watching, express their opinion on those moments, and instantly share these “Jump Frames” on Twitter and Facebook.

Will online video sharing be here to stay or will the medium phase out like traditional media? This reminds me of a song I grew up hearing.

Aired in 1981, the music video for “Video Killed the Radio Star” was a glimpse into the future of music, although ever-changing. Through a relatively new group, sound, message and delivery, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” along with the launch of MTV, set the stage, or in this case the screen, for a cultural upheaval.

The beginning of “Video Killed the Radio Star” starts with a traditional piano sound, and then transitions into a more synthesized version to match the idea of technological advancement being discussed in the song. The entire song is a fusion of old and new.

The song’s lyrics comment on the radio’s ability to deliver a musician to one’s home,

“I heard you on the wireless back in fifty two
Lying awake intent at tuning in on you
If I was young it didn’t stop you coming through.”

The song goes on to explain the introduction of the music video,

“They took the credit for your second symphony
Rewritten by machine and new technology
And now I understand the problems you can see,”

and finally, the subsequent death of radio,

“Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
In my mind and in my car
We can’t rewind we’ve gone to far
Pictures came and broke your heart
Put the blame on VTR.”

As technology has advanced, the music video, once the reining king of new media, and the idea of a television channel being dedicated to the medium has effectively been killed by the Internet with the help of video sharing web sites. What is next? Telepathic script writing perhaps.

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