Monthly Archives: October 2011

An Army of Flones: Halloween in the Digital Age

Trick or Treat, Give Me Something Good to Tweet

I went out for a walk last night and found myself surrounded by brands. To my left was Tony the Tiger, to my right was a Facebook Profile, and just ahead of me was an iPhone being carried by Flo from Progressive and the Geico Caveman. Welcome to Halloweentown, USA, where the candy coating exists only to protect the crunchy core of consumerism. (Note to self: must #OccupyHalloween!)

Now as much as Halloween is an opportunity for people to break out of the mold and express themselves by dressing up in ridiculous costumes, decorating their homes by sticking candles in rotting fruits, and purchasing large amounts of dry ice, it is also fantastic for the economy. The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend $6.86 billion dollars this year on Halloween, which comes out to about $72.31 per person.

So how does a marketer get a piece of those dolla dolla bills for their brand?

Progressive launched an all-out campaign to build an army of Flo clones (Flones) and they then armed them to take over the internet. The website was set up, the Google Ad campaign was built, the community manager was active, and the army of Flones grew.

Radio Shack aka “The Shack” has been on a quest to bring back their DIY customers – what better time to reach out to them than Halloween? With a step by step DIY guide to building a robot costume with eyes that light up, their blog made the case for a little holiday shopping trip to The Shack. I would have loved to see them take this a step further, and build out an entire campaign around Halloween, promoted on more niche channels in order to really reach their target market.

Halloween is something that gets people excited, and many will spend weeks planning their costumes. If you can get people excited about your brand, using your brand as a resource for a costume, and tagging your brand online, you win. Your brand will forever be tied to a story in their life and will always be a part of their memories – especially the digital, easily shareable ones.

So next Halloween, remember the song of the season:trick or treat, give me something good to tweet!

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When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys dressing up in “Pageant Casual Couture” and smiling with her eyes. During her time studying at The University of Florida, Mandi became convinced in the power of learning through play. She has since committed herself to playing (and learning) all day, every day.

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Socially Made: A Pitch for Surveys

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

I don’t know about you, but when I see [INFOGRAPHIC] in the title or body of a post, it catches my eye and chances are, I am likely to click on the link no matter what the topic is (here is a less than scientific one for Halloween).

Infographs aren’t necessarily new, but they do continue to gain more and more traction as a way to quickly relay information beyond just a post or tweet. By combining interesting topics with creative designs, the developers of these graphics take advantage of the scientifically proven fact that people receive information quicker through visuals (don’t believe us? Check out the way some college football teams call their plays).

Now, my parents would use this information to comment on the regression of the already feeble attention span the average social media users has , which I don’t necessarily disagree with (c’mon, is reading a normal bar graph or pie chart become too much work?), but that isn’t what today’s post is about.

Today’s topic is about what is behind the Infographs, which are survey results.

Infographs are a sexy way to disseminate information quickly and enjoyably, but what needs to be remembered is that the one page of visually appealing statistics often represents dozens of hours of work, including the surveying process, data collection, analysis, not to mention the actual development of the graphics.

In truth, surveys are the original form of social media. Through surveys and connecting with people to determine what they like and don’t like about a brand, accurate results can be determined, and plans and campaigns can be made. What social media did was take the survey process to the next level by giving individuals a greater opportunity to voice these opinions and measuring perceptions in near real time.

My point in saying this that I have one request for those that enjoy infographs as much as I: Participate in surveys. Sure, most of the surveys we typically get confronted with are more for internal usage and we may never see what the results (plus, it may end you up on an email list, but with the development of Spam filters these days, chances are you will not be hassled a great deal). But, for those organizations that are trying to get solid answers to cool and intriguing questions, sharing your honest opinion is going to help develop a more accurate response, and in turn, a more reliable infograph for me to click on.

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Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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The State Of Mobile

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Mike Handy has been working in Social Media since Facebook was only for college students. He started his first blog in 1999 when most people were still figuring out this “Internet thing”.  These experiences paired with his background in advertising and data-centric approach provide him with a unique view of social media. When he isn’t working he is probably watching, playing, or doing something hockey related.

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The Social Media Mullet: What Would Philosophers Think of Social Media? Part 3

Make Me Social’s Phil Grech named his blog The Social Media Mullet because, like the hairstyle, it will discuss the fusion of “business” and “casual” under the banner of online communications.

My last post discussed why Bentham would have made a horrible and invasive Social Media network CEO. Before that, I discussed Social Media and Existentialism. Continuing my roll of incredibly interesting topics, I am going to talk about the 20th century philosopher Theodor Adorno.

I like Adorno. Why? Because he is the first person I have read to ever put in very intellectual terms why mass-produced art hanging up in your house makes you dumber. For me, it was always a feeling, but Adorno solidified it for me after I read “The Culture Industry,” part of a book entitled “Dialectic of Enlightenment.”

This German-born philosopher believed that after the Industrial Revolution, the allowance of art to be mass produced was a bad thing (in simplest terms). Adorno argued that the art that comes out of easily accessible and mass-produced means is formulaic and meaningless and, subsequently, it dumbed people down.

With Social Media, the production of art is virtually limitless. Post a picture, it gets liked and then it spreads even further to that person’s friends. While it is certainly beneficial to make art more accessible, and companies greatly benefit from it in the form of advertising and campaigns, Adorno would have argued that Social Media, or at least certain aspects of it, dumb people down. Don’t get mad at me; take this matter up with Adorno. I’m just the one explaining his claims.

What else would Adorno have commented on regarding social media? What about QR Codes? QR Codes deal less with aesthetic appeal than they do with access to information, so I think he would have not have had much to criticize there.

What about tumblr? Considering the amount of time people spend on tumblr and the amount of sharing that goes on there, I am sure we can easily presume what Adorno would say about that popular network.

With that in mind, don’t ask Adorno to like your last status. He wouldn’t even have a Facebook account.

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Phil Grech is a Content Manager for Make Me Social. He published his first book, “Don’t Waste Your Hands”, in 2009. He studied English and Philosophy at Flagler College. In his spare time, he reads, works out, gardens and searches for good conversation.

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Occupy Wallstreet Should Occupy A Leadership Role (And So Should Your Brand)

Lead your audience, or become occupied.

Maybe it’s shortsighted on my part, or maybe I’m trying to get a little search traffic from a notion that is making headlines, but I’d rather lead than occupy.

What if we switched from Occupying Wallstreet to Leading Wallstreet?

It looks like this guy is trying to lead, but no one seems to be responding with action:

How cool would it be if the picture looked like this:

Notice anything different?

Now let’s apply this lesson to your brand’s Facebook Page.

Switch from “Occupy Your Fan Page” to “Lead Your Fan Page.”

…what could that look like?

A clear mission to impact behavior? Red Bull‘s got it.

A brand getting you to share your emotions? Skittles has it covered.

Dedicating yourself to change in partnership with a brand? You must be talking about Sony.

These pages use clear leadership to turn ideas into actions.

If your social change (or presence) isn’t hitting the mark, maybe it’s time to lead rather than occupy the social landscape.

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Josh Jordan is the president and founder of Make Me Social, a marketing agency that combines traditionaland new strategies to enhance an organization’s online presence and importance. Having held leadership positions with several Fortune 500 firms in industries including marketing, advertising, technology and media, Josh has developed new tactics and processes for improving outreach, sharing information and demonstrating subject matter expertise. As a difference-maker in a constantly evolving industry, he has combined the components of his background to create a communications philosophy that can assist non-profit and for-profit clients develop campaigns that deliver measurable results.

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The Internet Remembers Steve Jobs

The passing of Steve Jobs has impacted millions of people around the world. Many have turned to the internet to express their sadness, send condolences, and remember the man whose words inspired us all.

By capturing this moment in time and using words and data to show his impact, we hope to honor his memory.

 

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A Social Discourse: Social Music Hits A Sour Note

Music is essential to our culture. More than any other medium, music has driven social change through protest, satire, and commentary. Marketers have known that connection since the early days of radio, so it should be no surprise that social media marketers are throwing the “social platform” label on nearly every music site they come upon. But what really defines a social music platform? Does a music site need to go beyond a blue-and-white ‘like’ button in order to be social?

Pandora is a widely-known internet radio platform that has been around for a number of years. For the uninitiated, the site is designed around the Music Genome Project, an initiative to catalog and analyze every piece of music ever written. Pandora lets you build a radio station by selecting a song or artist you enjoy, which is compared to millions of other songs in the Genome Project database. Pandora then selects tracks to play that share similar sounds, instruments, and lyrics.

Pandora made real headlines several months ago when they announced an upcoming site revamp, which would include a full social network. As it turned out, those rumors were severely exaggerated. Pandora’s social network includes user profiles, Facebook integration (is anyone else getting sick of that “feature”?), and a following system, which is essentially just an upgrade to the old user-to-user sharing. Users can see what their friends are listening to, what songs they liked or disliked, and what stations they’ve created. Does that make this a “social network”? Not in my mind.

If Pandora is all music and no social, than turntable.fm is a massive swing in the alternate direction. At face value, turntable (which is too underground for capitalization, apparently) has a lot to offer. This crowd-sourced music player is treated as a virtual nightclub, or more accurately, an underground warehouse rave. The site is divided into user-created ‘rooms,’ each of which has a given theme, genre, artist, or style. Users vie for one of each room’s five DJ spots, which allows them to play music from their own collection for the crowd. The crowd, in turn, votes up or down on a track, which gives that DJ points. The points are used to unlock new on-site avatars, adding an addictive Facebook-Game quality to the whole package. Music to be played can come from a user’s own hard drive, or from an online database of previously-uploaded songs, which means that the music library is essentially infinite.

turntable.fm Music Room

The social aspect of the site is involved and engaging. The “follow” system allows you to build a friend list, of sorts, and each room’s chat feature allows live discussion of music, DJ’s, and the usual internet clutter. In some of the more popular rooms, it is not uncommon to run into the artists that actually created the tracks you are listening to. Big names in electronic music, like Daft Punk, Deadmau5, and Skrillex have all been known to make appearances. Few other niche networks allow you to have such immediate contact with the focuses of their fandoms. However, several egregious issues hold this platform back from the mainstream.

Some problems should already be obvious, the most blatant of those being the issue of music piracy. While there is no intended way to download tracks from the service, there is also nothing ensuring that the uploaded music has been legally acquired, or that it will stay within the site. In a very real way, turntable is running the risk of record-label intervention. For now, the site is dodging lawsuits by hiding behind loopholes in the DMCA , but that protection won’t last forever.

On a smaller scale, the music that users hear is almost completely out of their control. You can follow DJ’s you like, and stick to rooms that are designed for your favorite genres, but at the end of the day, it is other users that determine what you hear. The competitive nature of DJ spots, and the credibility that comes with “discovering” unique underground tracks means that you are unlikely to hear old favorites again and again on the site. Coupled with the above issues, technical bugs and compatibility issues add to the unpolished feel of the platform.

Spotify, on the other hand, is a fantastic piece of software. It easily blends online and offline music collections, allowing you to build playlists with a mixture of both. If iTunes, Amazon, Pandora, and turntable built a music platform together, Spotify would be the result. It is a great music platform, probably one of the best, but it isn’t a social network. To be frank, I don’t understand why so many other social blogs insist that it is.

Like so many others, Spotify relies on Facebook Integration for its social elements. This means that those of us that have moved on to other pastures are left with a secondary social experience. Not to say that Facebook users have it much better. Spotify’s social interaction involves nothing more than public playlists and newsfeeds that broadcast which Lady GaGa track you’ve had on loop all week. If it sounds a lot like the new ‘social’ Pandora, it’s because it is exactly the same thing, in almost every way.

For every person, in every culture, music is about emotion, and it has power. For now, it seems that in the social media universe, that means nothing more than a list of names under a single heading on a profile page. When the perfect social music experience is created, I’ll be there, but until that day, music in the social space is no more than background noise.

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Tim HowellTim Howell remembers what cassette tapes are, and is a content manager for Make Me Social. He studied fine art, psychology, and international pop culture at Bowling Green State University. In his spare time, he is a blogger, bartender, and social activist with a passion for cooking. You can find him at gplus.to/TimHowell

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