Archive for October, 2009

Pizza Hut embraces social media

Learn about how Pizza Hut is using social media as an innovative way of
reaching its customers…..

Social media search

Google has just launched a tool that allows users to find postings from their friends as part of a Web search. Microsoft too has announced deals with Facebook and Twitter that will enable tweets and posts to show up in searches.

It’s still brand new, but most likely will be an accepted part of the online landscape within six months. It’s not a comprehensive search tool, as individuals have to agree to share their information in public searches. But it’s likely to increase the amount of content that is publicly available.

This has huge implications for businesses, particularly those involved in travel and leisure, like restaurants and holiday resorts. Someone who carries out a social search while planning a holiday or a night out will soon bring up loads of casual comments about people’s various experiences that may help them make up their minds.  Ditto with retail and financial services.

Google account holders can try out the experimental tool via google.com/labs.

There’s also an explanatory video here.

Facebook advice for brands

Some companies dive in and quickly set up a Facebook page and then wonder why they don’t have a thriving community.

With millions of people using Facebook, this is arguably a far more important environment for brands than traditional media. But brands need to think through carefully how best to participate. Traditional PR communications methods will not work in this environment and brands need coherent Facebook strategies to ensure they enjoy a sustainable presence.

Just because it might be easy to set up a Facebook page, it is not easy to build a thriving community.

Here’s an interesting piece discussing how best brands can get involved in Facebook.

Las Vegas gets social media

las vegas welcomeA Las Vegas paper has some great examples today of how social media is helping the city’s hotels.  Owners are setting up websites that give them direct contact with their customers, and in this business customers have plenty they want to say.

Dealing with complaints. One gambler used the online space provided by a casino to post a rant at how stingy it was, suspecting it had rigged its slot machines to give infrequent payouts.  Minutes later another customer came to the casino’s defence: other visitors loved the resort, so perhaps he was just having bad luck.

Keeping an eye open for potential new customers. When a woman posted on her Twitter page that she had just arrived in Las Vegas, a hotel responded with a welcome message and suggested she come on over.

Helping make business decisions. The Luxor hotel company used its Facebook page to ask customers whether they preferred a lower hotel rate or more add-ons such as coupons or discounts on spa services, shows or meals. The response was overwhelmingly for the former, so the hotel acted accordingly.

Special offers. Caesars Palace is offering a Halloween discount travel package for Facebook and Twitter followers that will include tweets to guests offering free food, drinks and other giveaways. Profile photos of customers who have booked are posted on the company’s Facebook page, where people have described their experiences in Las Vegas and offered recommendations.

“There is a great upside for companies that go about it the right way. Social media can hold hotels more accountable to their customers, fix problems, correct misconceptions and build loyalty,” says Harrah’s marketing VP Monica Sullivan.

These businesses have clearly got the value of social media. As an entertainment centre Las Vegas may be a bit special, but there’s not much that these hotels are doing that other companies can’t imitate.

Read the article here.

Fortune 500 companies leading with social media

Here’s a list of ten Fortune 500 companies who are leading with social media. This includes interesting comments from them about why they use social media and how it is helping their businesses.

Environmental concern searches

Hitwise has come up with some interesting stats on where people are searching if they are concerned about the environment.

A lot of searching is taking place on Wikipedia, which shows how much people trust it. Government sites are high as well.

Getting people to come to you if you are a key player in the environmental market might mean looking to join up with these sites, or looking at their content to see what you can learn from it.

The rise and rise of Facebook

More unbelievable stats out on Facebook. According to Hitwise, Facebook accounts for more page views in the UK now than Google Uk, eBay UK and YouTube combined.

It’s worth looking closely at the numbers, which, from a brand/company perspective, underline the importance of having a good Facebook presence, or at least being aware of what people are saying about you on Facebook.

What would Google do?

It’s no secret that I admire the work of Jeff Jarvis. His book What Would Google Do? is a fascinating insight into the impact that Google is having on our culture and the ways we do business.

John Gapper from the FT has criticised his book. Rather than being like Google, businesses should be like Apple, Gapper says.

Jarvis has countered Gapper saying he has an ‘old media mindset’ which is bent on control.

Here’s Gapper’s review.

You can follow Jarvis on: www.buzzmachine.com

Jitters in Hollywood about social media

diazInteresting to see that the film industry is starting to worry about the impact of social media. Both Disney and Dreamworks are said to have added a new anti-social-media clause in their contracts, and Cameron Diaz and Mike Myers are said to be among the actors who are affected.

It seems Hollywood studios are miffed that confidential news about new films and projects is getting leaked, although it’s not clear whether they want actors to limit their use of social networking sites, or stop it altogether.

There’s a dilemma here, and it’s the same one that businesses have already been grappling with. Some things have to be confidential. For employees to broadcast secret plans and initiatives all over the blogosphere could mean sacrificing competitive advantage to rivals. At the same time, social media is now where consumers are to be found in large numbers, and it’s crazy for a company not to take account of that in its marketing strategy.

Exactly the same applies to film studios. What film one has just seen, and what one feels about it, is high on the list of subjects that are being discussed on the Internet.  The stars are bound by contract to go out and publicise their films, and social media is surely one of the best ways to do it. To have a following on Facebook and Twitter is a quick and effective way to get a message across.

Profiting from the opportunities while mitigating the negatives is a balancing act, and it will be interesting to see how Hollywood manages it.

Social media watchdog

As champions of best practice, the big marketing agencies spend a great deal of time agonising about the harm that businesses can do to a marketing channel by thoughtless use of data.

The classic example is telemarketing, where the abuses were so shocking – calling people up at all hours with irrelevant offers, ‘silent’ automated calls, and so on – that half of UK households have opted out, and can no longer be legally cold called. As it’s the more affluent half, that sort of telemarketing is effectively dead.

Could the same happen to social media? In the US Alterian has sponsored the creation of the Social Media Marketing Council (SMMC) to ensure the responsible use of social media and the data that businesses collect from that channel. The aim is to:

- Help regulate how businesses harvest and use data from social networks and other online channels
- Provide guidance on what constitutes responsible use of social media data
- Encourage organizations to use best practice when they interact with consumers.

With most businesses still playing catch-up where social media opportunities are concerned, wide-scale abuse is unlikely to be a problem. Companies will first have to learn how to take advantage of social media for marketing purposes before they can start to misuse it.

I’m certainly not aware of howls of outrage from consumers about businesses taking unfair advantage of their presence on Facebook and Twitter. A cynic could say that in promoting this worthy cause Alterian has just spotted a marketing opportunity for itself.

But problems could come, and marketing specialists have been so traumatised by the backlash against misuse of data over the past decade they have good reason to worry. Better to start educating companies now about best practice than to let problems fester, as happened with telemarketing and commercial mail.

More details here.