Category Archives: Brands

Data streamOne of the things that has probably plagued a lot of brands since the start of the social media era has been how to consolidate all their information and systems into one place. Just over a year ago, one particular startup chose to state their case for why their product would be useful to helping control the activity surrounding a company’s social presence. In February 2011, Echo, a real-time platform that enables companies to implement applications of scale for social TV, commerce, real-time commenting, and social content aggregation, just celebrated their one-year anniversary since they unveiled their flagship product, Echo StreamServer. For some, the belief in using real-time is a bit far-fetched, but in today’s use of social media, people (consumers and businesses) want to get feedback and news out instantaneously. No more waiting five hours before news hits the airwaves. People want it now. But while Echo clearly believes in the real-time philosophy, what they are striving to do is to kick it up a notch and bring the social to you, not the other way around.

Right now, many companies are simply giving their data away to the social networks. By forcing people to visit sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google, and YouTube, you will be enabling the customers to seek other profiles to fall in love with and befriend. This leaves the door open to a competitor stepping in or perhaps even giving away a good chance at them learning more about you and your brand. Echo’s StreamServer looks to be a tool that will enable your brand to completely control and monitor all the activity from a number of different sources. This holistic approach will enable them to leverage things from real-time comments on services like Twitter and Facebook, to creating a second screen experience, and even live, social events through a single platform. One social dashboard to rule them all, if you will.

Nokia Just Planted A TreeEvery year, companies and startups always try to come up with some clever gimmick or promotion that will really get the public’s attention at the South by Southwest conference. Some are really great, while others…well…need work on. Skype, for example, decided to have an old-town crier stand outside the Austin Convention Center and read about how people should visit their booth or tent to get refreshments and just relax. But the one thing that I want to highlight here was the efforts of another company who had wanted to plug their product, but also wanted to give something back.

Nokia, long known for being a telecommunications manufacturing company, decided to help do some social good while attending SXSW while also promoting their brand new phone, the Nokia Lumia 800. So what they did was contact a few SXSW attendees/influencers and ask if they wanted to participate and get a free phone as part of the program. Now, I should totally point out that I was asked and did participate in this program (yes, Nokia gave me a Nokia Lumia 800 phone at SXSW to participate in this campaign). But the point isn’t about the phone, it’s about the social good program that Nokia took which remains the central focal point of what they did at SXSW.

You see, in 2011, Texas was on the receiving end of one of the worst fire seasons on record. Firefighters from over a dozen states came to help battle the blaze with hundreds of counties declared as disaster areas. While the Red Cross provided assistance to the thousands affected by this disaster, there was additional room to help recover the land lost. So Nokia decided that this year, they wanted to put their reputation as a green company to the test and when SXSW rolled around, 50 Twitter fans (myself included) participated in a 48 hour marathon where by just using the hashtag #IJustPlantedATree, for each tweet, Nokia would plant five trees locally in Austin through the Arbor Day Foundation. The telephone manufacturer certainly put its money where its mouth is.

The goal was to reach 10,000 trees within 48 hours and each tweet was going to count for five–even the public could jump in, but their tweets would count for one tree being planted. At certain times, texts were sent to the participants notifying them that at these times, each tweet would count for more. What’s astonishing is that this effort wasn’t necessarily broadcast to the entire world–most people probably didn’t even know what it was about, and people didn’t have to divulge it or associate it with SXSW. Any tweet produced, whether through Twitter.com, a third-party app, or a non-Nokia phone were eligible and reaped the rewards. After 48 hours, the dream of 10,000 trees planted was quickly washed away, as the resulting total was over 44,000 tree were announced to be planted! That’s right, the amount of tweeting done by participants easily trumped their original goal and forced Nokia to continue to increase their budget and raise their total.

Brett Murray, Head of Influencer & Lifestyle Marketing at Nokia, said that #IJustPlantedATree is based on Nokia’s Nordic culture and that’s what Nokia stands for. This gamification program has definitely taken off and people were able to check out their status on the leaderboard. The program was so successful that within 90 minutes of the program launching, the hashtag became a trending topic on Twitter. Over 18 hours later, and Mr. Murray says that they’ve approached 8,000 trees that Nokia pledged to plant with 30 hours left. The rate that the tweets were coming in helped exceed Nokia’s goal by at least 3-4 times what any of the company’s representatives ever expected.

Just how much will 44,000 trees do to save the environment and the world? Over 11 million pounds of carbon dioxide will be absorbed each year, with over 2 million pounds of oxygen generated. 22,000 families of 4 will benefit from fresh air like they’ve never breathed before. And there’s a financial incentive as well for these trees: $309,000 in estimated savings, $32 million worth of recycled fresh water each year, and $54 million in air pollution control in annual savings.

A well-executed campaign for social good, I think. Instead of plugging about their new phone, Nokia decided to talk about the environment and help raise awareness about who they are and how they’re all about sustainability. As Mr. Murray says, Nokia is looking to establish a foothold in North America and this recent effort helps give them a real good promotion.

Disclosure: At SXSW, Nokia provided me with a free Nokia Lumix 9000 phone to participate in this program. At no point was I asked to write a post or required to talk about it. These words are my own. I have not been compensated for this post.

Pepsi's Twitter brand pageI suppose we kind of expected this to happen sooner or later. Twitter has apparently announced some new and interesting changes that will be coming to the site that will directly benefit advertisers and brands who want to get more out of marketing on the service. Since last December, Twitter had started to roll out their new brand pages for companies. Right now, they only show the brand’s Twitter feed and images, while also allowing some slight customization on how the page looks (see Pepsi screenshot to the left).

So far, over 20 marketers including name brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Disney, and Pepsi have all signed up for this new brand page, which AdAge describes as pages that can be customized with “large header images that advertisers can use to give greater visibility to their logo or other branded elements, which are often partially obscured by the timeline of tweets in the standard format.” Basically, the new page will allow you to slap on a nice billboard image that you can swap out at any time depending on your promotion and creative design. According to Twitter’s chief revenue office Adam Bain, at that time, when consumers wanted to learn more, spend more time, or get deeper in terms of engagement, they felt that they’ll end up on the brand page.

If these new and enhanced brand page features are to be believed, then it would be a welcome sign for advertisers who probably want to know more about how they can adapt their social marketing strategy to be something more than promoted tweets and other advertising mechanisms. It would seem that they feel left out on Twitter when all other social networks will allow them to create their own permanent residence on their network (e.g. Facebook pages, YouTube channels, Google+ profiles, etc.). And it seems that Twitter recognizes this fact since AdAge reports that in a test to verify whether Twitter.com will be a destination that users will “linger” instead of linking off to a third-party site, the social network created an “Ad Scrimmage” page that displayed the unique Super Bowl ads and encouraged users to vote for their favorite.

Not much is known in specific details about Twitter’s plan for brands and advertisers. AdAge’s report only cites three Twitter executives who “are familiar with the matter”. But what they do speculate on is that an e-commerce platform, contests and sweepstakes program will be implemented in addition to something being called “experiences”. These all seem like logical evolutions of the Twitter page and with a lot of third-party services acting like Remora fish to Twitter, it would be smart for the service to create these tools themselves and continue to have user engagement on their site. Just look at what Chirpify is doing with on Twitter by allowing others to monetize their tweets–this is something Twitter must be doing. Who knows, this could be a supplement to their monetization strategy. And naturally contests and sweepstakes are all positive things that I’m sure would go over really well with the community and brands on Twitter.

Right now it seems that people merely follow a brand just to receive their tweet. There is no incentive for people to go to the brand’s Twitter page–will this new plan by Twitter change all of that and not only help raise page views on Twitter.com, but also bring more followers who will spend more time with the brands instead of just looking at their tweets when it pours in over their third-party service like Seesmic or Hootsuite?

The tweets of the world wait with baited breath to read what Twitter will do next.

Facebook AdvertisingOne of the latest trends in online marketing today centers around one of the largest platforms on the Internet: Facebook. Billions of dollars are being spent advertising on Facebook alone with a predicted worldwide revenue exceeding $5 billion in 2012. It might seem like there’s a rosey forecast ahead, but eMarketer is predicting that over the next two years, growth rates will dip significantly, but yet, more money will still be floating into Facebook’s coffers and more than double the 2011 revenues to $8 billion. Just what could this mean for brands and businesses advertising on the social network? Could the increased revenue, but stagnant growth be an indication that businesses are spending more, but aren’t getting enough from their return? This could be a sign that brands could use some help to get more bang for their buck or least get a handle on how to be more effective with their Facebook advertising execution.

GraphScienceGraphScience, a full-service social data and Facebook advertising platform, is just the company that they’re looking for. Launching today, this platform for the top 100 brands and retailers, will enable companies to move beyond engagement and convert them into sales all through Facebook. All of this is done using GraphScience’s SocialEngine platform, which leverages Facebook ads API and will tap into the social graph using its “powerful algorithms” and social data to help brands create highly targeted campaigns for maximum branding and revenue generation. Simply translated: you put your trust into SocialEngine and it will spit out the data you need to make sure that your advertising is effective enough to make everyone happy.

But the problem isn’t necessarily that brands are timid about Facebook advertising or that the strategies are inefficient. No, the problem could potentially reside in the fact that Facebook isn’t keeping up with the demand that brands are asking for. The Examiner reported yesterday that the social network is facing considerable pressure from brands for more advertising on the site. Sure, the site initially sought to do advertising to raise some money while it was still private, but now that it’s going public, brands are demanding that their needs should be taken care of. As the Examiner puts itAs more people continue to surf the Internet from their laptops, desktop computers, tablets and mobile devices such as a smartphone or just a regular cell phone with Internet access, eventually it’s possible for online advertising to surpass television as roughly 425 million Facebook users currently access the site from a smartphone or tablet. So where’s the inventory? Greg Kahn, Executive Vice President and Business Development at Optimedia International, says that there’s no argument that for the past year, Facebook is a place to be (for marketers).

Isn’t it about time that brands who want to get marketing on Facebook had a chance to get more sensible targeting and had the ability to look at more social data to make educated and wise decisions on where they want to spend their money? That’s what GraphScience hopes to achieve using SocialEngine. By analyzing millions of targeting combinations across a wide array of demographics like age, gender, location, interests, and more, brands will be able to identify highly-targeted user segments in real-time and then make optimizations on their bids to increase the return on ad spends. How good is this system? In 2011, GraphScience delivered more than four billion connections to their customers and generated 4-8 times ROI based on click-based conversion for their customers across several industries. Not bad!

GraphScience

The point of using SocialEngine is because it’ll help drive more strategic marketing decisions for the brand’s customers. No more guessing on how your money is going to be spent–find out how exactly and maximize the return. Dave Harber, Senior Director of Marketing and Social Media at Ice (a fashion-focused shopping destination store) reinforces this belief: “GraphScience takes the guess work out of understanding how to find and reach the right consumers on Facebook, and has demonstrated that they not only can help us build a strong fan base on Facebook, but also do it at a cost significantly below industry average.” Isn’t that something that all brands are trying to achieve? Facebook advertising doesn’t have to simply be about placing an ad on the social network and forgetting about it. There’s an art form to getting your ad noticed with both creative and targeting and GraphScience can offer that to brands right now. The company predicts that social media advertising will overtake display and search as the dominant force within the next 3-5 years. If GraphScience can repeat the 4-8 times ROI that they’ve done before, it will be a good sign of things to come. More businesses will finally get to understand Facebook marketing and start to spend more because they’ll be more educated and aware of how to properly execute a strategy.

Raymond Rouf, CEO of GraphScience, told me earlier that their philosophy around customers was centered around what can they do to help a business grow value. They’re the first company to really show that Facebook is a viable marketing tool for businesses and have amassed a great deal of customers, from leading national department stores to home furnishing commerce sites to major high-end fashion brands. All are aimed at trying to get the maximum return on their investment. What they are finding is that paid search is still doing better than Facebook ads. In a USA Today article, Dave Beltramini, director of online strategy for G5, said that “the intent for consumers on Google is about shopping, On Facebook, people are more social, looking at photos of their friends’ kids.” It’s all about different behaviors. In fact, Chris Moore, a partner at Redpoint Ventures, says:

Facebook fares poorly in a key pricing metric used in the industry to measure the value of ad inventory in reaching an audience. Its CPM, or cost per thousand impressions, is 22 cents, less than half the industry average for the Web (50 cents) and minuscule compared with Google’s, which is north of several dollars…

Facebook ads are still the Wild Wild West of online advertising and brands will need a guide to help spend their money wisely without throwing it all away. GraphScience has come along at the right time to help shepherd the businesses away from the recreational advertisers and provide them with the full-detailed data that they need to become serious advertisers on Facebook.

You can check out more information about GraphScience and their capabilities by visiting their website.

Photo Credit: Facebook advertising via Bostinno.com

AnalyticsThe world of social media marketing has just gotten a bit better thanks to a recent announcement by Wildfire about their partnership with social advertising company Adaptly. The global leader in social media marketing is going to get even better thanks to its integration with Adaptly’s social advertising and optimization technology. Now, while Wildfire user, which allows you to design, publish, and manage your own brand content through social media will, for the first time, give marketers full control of both owned and paid social media–combining the best of both worlds in an attempt to “maximize consumer engagement”.

In case you don’t know about Wildfire, this two-time winner of the Facebook Fund and a runner-up at the TechCrunch Crunchies in 2010 is a tech company based here in Silicon Valley dedicated to helping brands discover the marketing power of all social networks, particularly Facebook and Twitter.  What they offer right now is the ability for anyone (and I mean anyone) easily create their own attractive, branded social media marketing campaigns, like sweepstakes, contests, coupons, giveaways, quizzes, virtual gift campaigns, and anything else they desire. Those campaigns are then published on Facebook, websites, and even on Twitter. As you can see, it’s a lot of organic tactics that Wildfire can offer brands. But what they seem to lack is the ability to get the customer’s name and promotion out there into the wild…well until now. Adaptly’s partnership with Wildfire helps give them a well-rounded handle on the marketing industry and substantially increases their offering in an area where companies don’t want to have multiple services to manage their social media marketing. It’s a “one service to rule them all” kind of thinking.

But before we can talk about this marriage of offerings, we must understand a bit more about Adaptly. Since its founding in 2010, this New York City-based company has been working to help change the way brands gain engagement on social networks. How? By helping to “harness the unique value of each social network”. One consolidated platform is all that is needed to complete a social advertising buy across multiple networks including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and more!

When asked about this integration, Wildfire’s CEO, Victoria Ransom (a 2012 winner of the General Management TechFellow award), said:

Integrating a brand’s ads with its content is key to maximizing engagement through social media, yet powerful ad management had been a missing piece from social marketing software suites.

We are delighted to partner with Adaptly to bring their innovative advertising optimization technology to our customers. We evaluated many solutions in the market and Adaptly was the clear leader, with a best-in-class technology that is science-based, data-driven, and results-focused. Adaptly is fully aligned with Wildfire’s philosophy of developing highly scalable software solutions that automate social marketing processes to generate maximum impact at the lowest cost and effort for customers.

So what makes this Wildfire-Adaptly partnership so unique compared to simply using something like Facebook advertising? Well for starters, the combination of these two companies will give you greater reach since they’re allowing you to create a bipartisan marketing campaign for multiple networks, not just one. It’s almost like you were doing traditional online advertising: you don’t want to have to manage buys on Google AdWords or Bing or on Yahoo. You just want to have one system to help manage those spends. That’s one of the strengths these two companies will bring. But it’s not just advertising nor is it just marketing–it’s both. According to Wildfire, unlike first-generation ad serving solutions which focus on traditional metrics as CPC, fans, or impressions, Wildfire’s solutions with Adaptly will help optimize social ads not only for costs, but for maximum engagement. With proprietary technology aggregating more than 160 social metrics from a brand’s earned and owned channels, Adaptly will help marketers analyze the impact of their spend in real-time and help you refine your ads to increase engagement at the lowest cost–something marketers really will care about.

This self-optimizing technology that is now integrated into Wildfire offers a few compelling values for brands and their marketers:

  • Enable marketers to specifically target & discover new/valuable audience segments
  • Enhance performance of social media promotions, brand pages, and messages through high value content
  • Gives marketers a real-time view of their advertising, page, and campaign metrics in one interface
  • Marketers can optimize their advertising across multiple social networks–no small feat!

Currently available only to a limited number of beta customers, this new integration should be a big prize to the thousands of customers that Wildfire has and will surely lead to better things for Adaptly. Social media marketers have probably been wondering just how can they manage all their social marketing from one platform…and now they have their answer. It just became that much easier thanks to this partnership.

Photo Credit: Technorati

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