Archive for September, 2010

Disney uses social media to inspire their latest TV campaign

Disney EarsDisney has recently announced a new social media campaign that will allow visitors to any of the Disney parks to upload picture and footage which can be used in their latest TV commercials.

Not only could their photos make it onto televised campaign, but they could also see their images projected onto Orlando’s Cinderella Castle from January.

The campaign is titled “Let the Memories Begin”, and it invites Disney visitors to upload their images and videos to DisneyParks.com. Facebook users can also upload the pictures to the Walt Disney World page.

The move is an interesting one by the entertainment giant, leaving the content to be created by its visitors. However, the company still holds the rights to moderate the images before uploading them, so they’ll probably get the Disney gloss before they make it to our television screens.

What do you think about Disney using social media for their latest advertising campaign?

Source: [TheCelebrityCafe]

10 things to do when Facebook crashes…again

Facebook is a wonderful social media tool and the ultimate source of procrastination. However, it’s been a little unsteady recently, with the site going offline for hours on end.

So, what can you do when Facebook is offline?

  • Update your LinkedIn profile. How SEO-friendly is your profile? Can potential customers, clients and employers find you easily? Have a look at your page in the same way you’d look at a website and make some improvements.
  • Have a Twitter refresh and tidy up. How many of the people you’re following are following you back? How many haven’t tweeted in months? There are dozens of applications (like Friend or Follow) around that break down your follower numbers for easy management.
  • Write a blog post. Take an hour to write a quality blog post on your latest business developments, news or simply reflect on a recent news story.
  • Pick up the phone and call someone! Customer service shouldn’t just be conducted across social media. Call a client to catch up, speak to your team or call a friend.
  • Learn a skill. Have you been meaning to learn how to use Google Analytics properly? Or perhaps how to create a group on LinkedIn? Use this distraction-free time to master that skill!
  • Clean your desk. Some would call this procrastination, but a tidy desk equals a tidy mind. Sort through that To Do tray, file away your expenses and wash up all those tea cups.
  • Contact potential clients. Met any interesting people recently at a networking event? Drop them an email to say hello and see if there’s anything your business can do to help. Chances are, they’ll be mourning the loss of Facebook and happy to email you back.
  • Organise your emails. Got 400 emails in your inbox and no idea what you’ve dealt with? Spend an hour creating sub-folders, filing useful emails away, deleting the spam and replying to the urgent. Time-consuming but hugely satisfying when you’re inbox is empty.
  • Stumble and Digg. Spend a little time using your favourite social bookmarking sites to showcase your blog and your favourite other bloggers and articles.
  • Review your social media impact. Look at Google Analytics again, your sales and your followers. Can you see a difference since you started using social media? How much of a difference?

What do you do when Facebook goes down?

American burger joint gets innovative with FourSquare

AJ Bombers burger jointWith Facebook Places entering the location-based social media market, it was only a matter of time before Foursquare upped its game. One of their earliest adopters, American burger chain AJ Bombers, has taken the standard “checking in” process and used it to enhance their current menu.

The chain kicked off their campaign by offering the mayor of their store, a gentleman called Jim, a menu that only he could order from.

Seeing the popularity of this mayor bonus, the restaurant owner Joe Sorge and strategist Steffan Antonas created the Loyalty Royalty menu. The special monthly menu is put together by the three customer who had checked in the most through Foursquare over the last 30 days. Only those three Foursquare users are then allowed to order from the menu.

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University bans students from social media for a week

Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in PennsylvaniaThe Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania has taken the interesting step of banning its students from Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging for a week. The ban has been enforced by Provost Eric Darr, who wants his students to see how their behaviours, habits and daily schedules are driven by social media. At the end of the week students will be asked to write an essay on their time during the social media ban.

Opinions are mixed on the move, with some students becoming concerned about how cut off they’d feel, while others don’t feel they have any attachment to Facebook and Twitter.

Some like it, some don’t. Some say they’re getting [more] work done; some of them say, ‘I need my Facebook!’

Gio Acosta, a junior

Facebook addiction

How much time do you spend on social media? It’s estimated that 92% of American students now log into Facebook, and spend an average of 147 minutes surfing the social media site each week. That’s almost 10 hours a month, or an entire work day! The results are likely to be replicated over here in the UK, particularly as London is the number one city for Twitter users, according to the Twitter Grader.

With many users turning to social media before they even get out of bed, and before they go to sleep, has social media become an essential part of our day without us realising?

Could you cope without Facebook and Twitter for a whole week?

How will Twitter’s new web interface affect desktop apps like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite?

Twitter LogoThis week Twitter announced a brand new web interface, packed full of new features. Over the next couple of weeks, we should all have access to the new version, complete with tabs, integrated media and quick profile viewing.

Many social media experts, including Mashable, believe this might spell the long-term end for a lot of Twitter desktop apps. Processor and memory-hungry desktop apps like Tweetdeck and Seesmic may well be concerned about losing users to the new web-based Twitter interface.

However, most power users choose desktop apps — or web-based sites like Hootsuite — to deal with a number of social media accounts at once. While the new interface will prove to be a pleasurable experience for checking your tweets, it won’t allow you to post across a number of accounts at the same time. Nor does it offer multiple user capabilities, analytics and connection to other social networks.

So Twitter hasn’t quite reached the point where it can compete with third party Twitter clients. But with this latest improvement, it’s moving a step closer. Watch this space.

What do you think about the new Twitter web interface? Will you be switching?

Old Spice, Tippex and the rise of interactive virals

OldSpice

With a record number of companies pouring money into social media (eMarketer: Social media ad spend to hit $1.7 billion in 2010) we’re starting to see some really interesting viral campaigns popping up all over the place. Think back over the last year, which campaigns have been the most memorable?

Old Spice is by far one of the most popular video virals of the year, thanks to a humorous approach and a quick response to requests on Twitter. According to the Social Times, the campaign received 5.9 million YouTube views in the first day, 20 million by day three and 40 million by the end of the first week. By creating a series of speedy follow ups, the brand extended the popularity of the viral and spread their campaign across both Twitter and Facebook. The brand’s Twitter following increased by 2700% and their Facebook interaction rose by 800%. Traffic to OldSpice.com increased by 300%.

Social advertising

By embracing YouTube, Old Spice have changed the image of their brand and products, proving to be a step ahead of their competitors. The company has since reported that their sales are up by 107%, elevating their position to become the number one brand for men’s body wash

Other YouTube-based virals include the recent Tippex campaign, where the viewer directs the result of the video, and the recent trailers for The Expendables, which resulted in Stallone jumping out of his video to shoot down all the related videos.

Interactive movie trailers

Movie companies in particular have added YouTube to their social media strategy. Unsurprisingly, the release of The Social Network (a film tracking the meteoric rise of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg)has led to an interactive video trailer (or an i-Trailer), featuring facts and social media mentions about the film when you click on the video. The ironic thing? According to Pocket-Lint, the film about Facebook debuted its trailer on….MySpace.

That Koran business

What do businesses have in common with Terry Jones, the religious extremist whose plan to burn Korans on his front lawn could have ignited a religious war?

Nothing at all obviously. And yet…

From everything that has been written about him since he started first made his inflammatory declarations, Jones is clearly a pathological attention seeker. Miffed at not getting the respect he thought was his due, he stepped onto the world stage and with a single tweet set in motion an extraordinarily effective campaign, fuelled by a Facebook page and YouTube clips.

Within days he had the whole world in the palm of his hand, the headline topic in the press and on television, with earnest appeals to him being made by President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Gen. David Petreaus, Pope Benedict XVI, etc, etc.

It’s a sobering reminder of the extraordinary power of the Internet to spread information in the blink of an eye. The mainstream media at first loftily ignored Jones, but was forced eventually to report his campaign – the perfect amplification.

Businesses too need attention to survive. Of course they aren’t pathological, and they don’t have to be inflammatory in their statements – it would be counterproductive. And clearly Jones tapped into a deep stream of paranoia in the American public psyche. Companies just sell stuff.

But the point is, the mechanism for achieving rapid awareness of their products and services is there, as long as they understand how to make use of it. All they need is something that people will genuinely respond to, and with a bit of understanding of how social media works, the rest will take care of itself.

Could Facebook Pages eventually take over blogs?

Facebook Pages have gradually grown over the last year, offering more and more features to customise your page. The leading social network is usually fairly wary about allowing users to customise their experience, so the introduction of the Facebook language FBML is an interesting one.

With FBML, you can create your own landing page, with clickable links and images. We’ve already looked at Facebook shopfronts last week and, in theory, you can replicate the majority of your blog or website on your Facebook page.

So, what’s stopping you? Well, at the moment FBML is still fairly basic. Templates with Flash are hard to come by, leaving the pages looking a little flat. You’re also at the mercy of the Facebook server, which has its many issues. The majority of pages are static too, meaning regular updates are time-consuming to edit and upload.

However, it will be interesting to see where Facebook go with Pages in the future. With more flexibility and ease of use, this function could prove to be a contender for those wanting a more simple blog.

Could Facebook change the whole future of blogs? A social networking service offering full blogging capabilities would be an interesting concept indeed, but will they be the first to take that step?

What do you think?

Small businesses take to social media

The growth of social media use by smaller businesses has doubled in less than a year. In a poll of 269 companies carried out by Daryl Willcox Publishing,  54% said they use it, compared with 27% last December, with more than a third posting updates every day.

LinkedIn emerged as the most popular choice, used by almost three quarters of the companies, with Facebook used by 64% and Twitter 63%.

Among companies that don’t use it, lack of time was the main reason cited (35%), although a large minority (31%) said their customers didn’t use it. A quarter said they didn’t understand it.

Sixty percent reported a positive impact on their business. Main reasons for using it were networking, attracting new customers and raising brand awareness, although a few (14%) said they were doing it just because everyone else was. Unlike big brands, few used it to offer incentives such as money-off vouchers.

More details here.

Should you use Formspring to communicate with your customers?

Formspring is a service that allows visitors to ask you questions, both anonymously and named, on any subject they like. It’s a prime example of a social network that experienced a surge in popularity, followed by a lull when the service was simply forgotten for the Next Big Thing.

The main reason a lot of people allowed their membership with Formspring to lapse is due to the anonymous nature, leading to some abusive questions and comments to be made to each Formspring account. While this isn’t a new occurrence in the online world, it did pick up a lot of speed on this particular site.

But does that mean companies should avoid the service? A thick skinned community manager can keep an eye on what’s going on, dealing with constructive criticism and removing abusive content. As an interactive FAQ section, it’s an interesting way to extend your social media strategy and improve your relationship with customers.

This kind of approach works well with online retailers, particularly for the fashion, technology and cosmetic markets. It’s a lightweight version of a forum, allowing users to ask all those niggling questions that they don’t wish to call or email about.

What do you think about Formspring? Would you use it?