My Dad Should Stop Clipping Coupons on Friday Night and Just Go Online

My Dad Should Stop Clipping Coupons on Friday Night and Just Go Online

“What if we give away 500 of these to consumers on launch day?”  “Let’s give coupons to a couple bloggers for their readers for 10% on that.”  I’ll admit it: I’m guilty of presenting ideas like the above in brainstorms or in PowerPoint decks. Sometimes just giving something away for free is the easiest way to “make news,” especially on social media. Of course, though — I mean, who doesn’t love getting something for free AND then talking about it?  There’s an increasing rise in specialized social media platforms and mobile applications that are allowing us to develop coupons and deals in unique ways for our clients and brands. Plus, those campaigns are allowing us to tell interesting social media stories and even get a little “traditional” press out of it.  Groupon, for instance, is a global phenomenon. If you’re unfamiliar, the site allows consumers to buy coupons for shows, restaurants, etc., together. In other words, for the coupon to become active, a certain amount of random strangers from around the world need to buy that discount together. For instance, Groupon is great for brands with retail stores that are looking to unload excess inventory, drive in-store traffic, etc. Foursquare, if you believe the media, is also becoming a phenomenon. (I’m in that camp, too, as an avid user.) Foursquare is a mobile application that allows you to check in to locations ranging from a subway station to a retail store to your own apartment. You unlock virtual badges and earn rewards like becoming the “mayor” for checking in the most to a particular place. A number of top tier brands offer discounts to drive in-store traffic. RadioShack last week began offering 10% off to anyone who checked in, and 20% off to the mayors. Gap this past Saturday offered a whopping 25% to anyone who checked-in; originally supposed to last the day only, Gap is apparently considering keeping the promotion going longer. Gap not only apparently saw high sales, but high news volume, too — resulting in millions of impressions.  Postabon is a relatively new one. It’s a community-shopping platform where users find and share the best nearby deals that other uses can then find either through the mobile app or website. They launched first in New York but will expand with time.    Twitter is even using the deal trend as a way to test one of their first business models. Recently, they launched @earlybird, a Twitter profile that posts deals Twitter has with various business partners. It’s a business model option that makes a ton of sense, since posting about unique deals is something Twitter users are already doing — except this time, it’s easier to track. Most of @earlybird’s deals haven’t been buzzworthy yet, but it seems like Twitter is just getting started.  The days of my dad clipping coupons Friday night before going to the supermarket the next day are long gone. Platforms like Groupon, Foursquare, Postabon and Twitter are definitely changing the way brands not only offer deals to customers and potential customers, but also are changing the way those deals are shared out within your own social circle.  Do you have a favorite site or application you use for finding local deals? Leave it in the comments below, or as always, hit me up on @adanzis. I’m always looking for a good deal.

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Facebook Changes Coming August 23

Facebook Changes Coming August 23

Facebook, as you no doubt know by now, is more than just a toy for teenagers. The ubiquitous social media king recently celebrated adding its 500 millionth user, and with its’ “Open Graph” protocol gaining massive popularity, Facebook is no longer confined just to the www.facebook.com URL. Facebook is, in many ways, stamping its influence on the entire internet.


Of course, you also know that Facebook, never content to run in place, is always adding changes and features. If  the recent firestorm over user privacy issues is any guide,  Facebook’s biggest problem isn’t the way in which it maintains its site, but the way in which it communicates (or just as often, doesn’t) to users about them.


It’s with that in mind that we share with you that rumors which were originally heard back in 2009, and supposedly supposed to take place in early 2010 but which never did without any explanation, have finally come to light. Earlier this week, Facebook announced two seemingly minor changes which could have major repercussions on your brand’s Facebook property, and which will take effect on August 23.


1) Tab widths will change from 760 to 520 pixels. For the “standard” tabs, like the Wall, Photos, & Videos, this won’t be an issue you’ll need to worry about too much, as Facebook will automatically resize them.


However, this may present a problem is if you have any custom (or FBML) tabs on your site, such as the CooperVision “C What I Mean” widget or the Hunt’s “High Five” tab. As you can see, many such tabs feature an eye-catching design, fully utilizing all available space. In the coming weeks, those tabs will be losing 240 pixels of real estate with which to work.


In order to aid with the transition, on Tuesday Facebook enabled page administrators to see what their pages will look like in the new design scheme. Tabs which exceed the new 520 pixel limit are simply cut off at that point. In order to avoid that, tabs will need to be redesigned to fit within the new design scheme before August 23rd, though in some cases it might be a good opportunity to think about the next phase of a page’s life rather than trying to rework a previous idea.


2) “Boxes” on profiles and pages will be removed. At first glance, this seems like a necessary move. We’ve all seen the cluttered Boxes tabs on various pages, which serves mostly as a dumping ground for all sort of applications and tabs installed on a page; the layout never works and 99% of “Boxes” tabs are rightfully hidden away in the “more” section of the tab navigation.


However, there is one little-known but quite important feature of Boxes, and that’s the ability to add a custom box on the left-hand side of the Wall tab. This does not apply to “standard” Facebook features like Fans, Photos, and Favorite Pages, but to custom areas where many pages add links to Terms of Use or graphical callouts like coupons. As an example, the Terms of Use section of the Clorox page is shown at right.


With the new changes, Facebook has confirmed that these custom boxes will no longer be available. The information contained within will need to be moved to a tab or elsewhere on the page. Facebook hasn’t accurately explained why they’ve taken this step – they claim it’s to aid with “ease of browsing”, though that seems vague at best – but it could have major repercussions for pages which use that area regularly.


In the coming days leading up to August 23, each account team and page administrator will need to work together on a client plan on how to handle these two new changes. If left untouched, your page will look quite different than you expect once the switch happens.


 

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Buy-curious

Buy-curious

Should I live to see 100, or even more optimistically, the 80-90 range (I have good bloodlines, but that is neither here nor there; and I promise no more about the hereafter thereafter), I shall never live long enough to match the wide and diverse international travels of the man who normally owns this space. Jon Higgins (a man with not one but TWO country passports), has tasted port in just about every port of call on your global map app.

My travelogue is quite modest by comparison, with three continents still to be visited (I’m waiting for my invitations, Gustavo and Chris Gray). As I have traversed the other four during the last 25 years, it seems practically everything has changed about international travel in ways we can all recognize — somehow while the planes got bigger, the legroom got smaller; not to mention the growing lines, shrinking courtesies and an endless array of absurdities, gratuities and indignities. It’s like someone put the Coen Brothers and Tim Burton in charge of air travel.

But it’s actually not the travel itself that I have found most confounding.

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Supporting the United Nations Global Compact

Supporting the United Nations Global Compact

Among the many corporate social responsibility efforts that Ketchum has undertaken in the past decade, one I’ve been particularly proud of is our commitment to the United Nations Global Compact, an initiative for businesses committed to aligning their operations with 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. Led by the efforts of Ketchum’s Senior Counsel, John Paluszek, Ketchum was one of the first PR agencies to become a member of the Compact, in 2001, and since then we’ve been putting the Compact’s 10 principles in practice through both colleague and company activities as well as through the promotion of the Compact to our clients and other prospective members.  Each year, Compact members are required to submit a Communication on Progress report to document their efforts in support of the Compact, and we at Ketchum are proud again to have just filed our latest Communication on Progress, our fifth. I invite you to check out our report and consider some questions:

What do you think are the best ways that a PR agency can give back to its community?
How do you think businesses can do more to strengthen their CSR commitments and help the world?
What do you think are the most important CSR areas (environment, education, healthcare, poverty, race and gender equality, etc.) that companies should focus on?

I look forward to your thoughts.

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Tips to Mitigate and Respond to Workplace Violence

Tips to Mitigate and Respond to Workplace Violence

When workplace violence hits your company or community, statistics do not matter. The community of Manchester, Connecticut, and employees of Hartford Distributors probably know that all too well after yesterday’s tragedy.  For the rest of us who follow these situations and wonder if lessons are evident, the statistics provide some context. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, workplace homicides have fallen 52% between 1994 to 2008. Yet, nearly 2 million U.S. workers still fall victim to workplace assaults. And 70% of U.S. workplaces do not have a formal program or policy in place to address the problem. (See page 14: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osch0033.pdf). Thus, while most experts concede that workplace violence cannot always be prevented, there is clear room for improvement from the private sector. 

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Creativity and Madness

Creativity and Madness

My parents (both psychologists) frequently attend a conference called Creativity and Madness hosted by Los Angeles-based psychiatrist Dr. Barry Panter. Mental health and medical professionals share presentations with titles like “Tragedy, Loss, and Transformation within Bruce Springsteen’s Work” and “Iggy Pop, Narcissist, Shaman and Wounded Child.” The theme of much of the research discussed is the relationship between creativity and mental pathology — or at least periodic anguish. From Van Gogh to Virginia Woolf to Kurt Cobain, society now embraces the romanticism of the tortured artist. We expect the most creative among us to be the most unstable.   Business innovators, by contrast, are not afforded the same cushion of understanding. The likeliest consequence of “eccentric” behavior in the workplace is an uncomfortable conversation with HR. Our need for innovation in today’s oversaturated marketplace is greater than ever, yet most organizations are poorly oriented to spot and develop breakthrough innovators. Think about the real game-changers of the past few decades — Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson, for example. They’re college dropouts. That means they wouldn’t even get through the résumé screeners at the companies they went on to found. And big-thinking leaders who do go on to finish school aren’t the type to slug it out for 15 years working their way up the corporate ladder until they’re positioned to call the shots. They start their own companies.   

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What Can We Learn From the Old Spice Guy?

What Can We Learn From the Old Spice Guy?

About two weeks ago, Old Spice’s advertising partner, Wieden + Kennedy, had a brilliant idea: have the star of their commercials, Isaiah Mustafa, aka “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” personally thank people online for their comments about his videos. Some ranged from celebrities like Alyssa Milano, some included media outlets, and others had less than 100 followers on Twitter.  It was a brilliant campaign, and I, like other of my colleagues, applauded them for doing it. It’s sometimes hard to agree on whether there is benefit of this kind of one-to-one outreach, but I think we can all agree Old Spice is seeing it.  Hey, wait a second: Time.com, among others, say the ads got attention but not sales. According to WARC, body wash sales had fallen 7 percent.  Except now others are disagreeing, saying sales were actually up 107 percent. According to Nielsen, as reported by Adweek.com and others, “Overall sales for Old Spice body-wash products are up 11 percent in the last 12 months; up 27 percent in the last six months; up 55 percent in the last three months; and in the last month, with two new TV spots and the online response videos, up a whopping 107 percent.”  And there’s the fact that Isaiah is now going to guest star on Chuck and appear in a movie with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  So what made the Old Spice campaign such a success, both in terms of media attention as well as sales?

He was funny. Plain and simple.
It was an incredible combination of traditional media and social media. You probably saw him on TV but didn’t really connect with it until the buzz started hitting online and people started sharing his videos. So while the social media part of the campaign cost very little (I assume), it did cost a lot in traditional advertising spending — at least six figures I would wager.
In the video responses, the Old Spice Guy talked in his “character,” but the content of the video was all about talking about what the commenter wanted to talk about . . . like helping someone with a marriage proposal. We always work with our clients to ensure that when you’re engaging online, you shouldn’t just talk about you and your brand — you should talk about what your audience wants to talk about. Old Spice Guy proved our case for us.

The numbers are early and they are good, but it’ll be interesting to see if they remain on the uphill climb. It will certainly depend on the next phase of the campaign – I can’t imagine they’re done just yet – but one thing is for certain: Old Spice is now on a lot of people’s minds and it’s definitely for a different reason than it was six months ago, one year ago and five years ago.

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Take Notice! A Play About Teenagers With No Mention of the F-Word (Facebook)

Take Notice! A Play About Teenagers With No Mention of the F-Word (Facebook)

Recently I was in a meeting where someone was talking about “Millennials” and said the following: “With teenagers today, if they don’t share it on Facebook, it didn’t happen.” I thought to myself, if they really believe this and inadvertently forget to bring a camera to their child’s birthday party, they could be paying for that party twice. I also prayed this person was not responsible for any major decisions regarding deforestation.  Fast forward to the weekend for a different take on teenagers in the play Notice Me, an account of four teenagers living in California and dealing with steroids, virginity, kidnapping and trying out for the “Real World,” all within 48 hours. The play — written by Blair Singer and produced by a completely twentysomething cast — meant to tell a story about how young people seek out affirmation and will do so at any cost, whether it means increasing their physical presence, losing their “V” card on the hood of a car, stealing a baby or being recorded on TiVos across America.   But what Notice Me meant to “say” about youth culture was less interesting than what it actually accomplished — a portrait of how dissimilar four teenagers can be, and not from adults, but from each other. In this story, each character had different ambitions, identities and ideas about what it meant to be noticed — none of which included Facebook uploads! An interesting point to think about as we craft generalizations that paint every teenager as a texting maniac who only looks up in order to be “noticed” by the person on the other side of their ChatRoulette conversation.Go see it! For more culture picks check out this week’s Culturalist.

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Jerzify Yourself!

Jerzify Yourself!

Here is the “situation.” I just read this entertaining article about social media in Ad Age: “Five Things ‘Jersey Shore’ Taught My Agency About Social Media.”  Most important tidbit I took away from the article (besides the fact that I need to wear more sunscreen or I’ll start to resemble Snookie) is that link building and sharing are more effective to do for SEO than buying a bunch of ad words. And to be 100% sure, I did what anyone would do when trying to get the facts – I Googled it! What’s better? Link building or buying? And the winner is . . .  http://www.optimum7.com/internet-marketing/seo/link-building-vs-link-buying.html Definitely try the app. It’s fun!

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The Geoconsumer Game?

The Geoconsumer Game?

With news that Foursquare has just surpassed 100 million check-ins, it’s clear that geolocation marketing isn’t going away anytime fast. While Foursquare is certainly king of this share, other notable brands include Loopt, Brightkite, Gowalla, and Whrrl. In the past six or so months, more and more companies are taking notice of Foursquare and the like, and utilizing these technologies (and participants) as a new way of marketing directly to people through their phones, BlackBerrys, iPhones, etc. . .  I remember last winter checking in to a bar in downtown Chicago on Foursquare, and no sooner had I checked in then a pop-up ad for a competing bar came on my phone’s screen, offering a free happy-hour appetizer.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.

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