It Used To Be Called "Interactive"

Remember way back (circa 7 years ago) when digital media was called "interactive"?

It seems as if many marketers have forgotten that the roots of digital/online/social media are in the now time-worn idea of interactivity. Isn't that the wonderful inherent advantage of marketing and communicating on the internet? The ability to engage in a real-time back-and-forth with your customers and prospects is something that can't be replicated by TV, Radio, Print and Mail.

Instead of just simply pushing out content on your social media portals, email campaigns and web pages, use them simultaneously as broadcast networks and response channels. Instead of just requesting a like or a follow, incentivize a click to a landing page. Lead them to a pURL. Reward people for sharing your content. Encourage them to come back and bring their networks to your brand.

Think responsively. Promote interactivity. Push Marketing and Pull Marketing can coexist on the internet.


#ChicagoSnow and Market Over-Sharing

Today there was as much social media activity about the snow in Chicago as there were snowflakes falling from the sky over The Loop. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's perfectly cool for people to take to the social networks and express themselves, because presumably by now the people who we consider our online friends have become accustomed to how we communicate and act online. We all know plenty of "over-sharers" who benignly share whatever pops inside their heads. No editing, and no holding back.

Many posts are pointless, some are entertaining and informative, a few are outright hilarious, and occasionally one or two will give you a new perspective on life. But all of them are personal. "If you don't like my posts, then de-friend me" has become a motto of online individualism.

If you are a marketer you can't dare people to stop following you. Consider the marketing value of your social media posts as if they were interruptive forms of advertising. Quality vs. quantity in the age of earned media is a delicate balance because you don't want to be noticed for being the marketer that over-shares all the time.

You need to have an online presence because that's where peoples' attentions are found, but how much content can you reasonably share online to be effective without being guilty of Market Over-Sharing? How many tweets can you post on behalf of your brand before you are tuned out? How much of a presence do you need to have in order to be noticed? And what's the point of having a huge audience of followers and fans and people who are willing to click the like button if you don't give them anything of value?

Engagement is important, but it can be more effective to engage your audience with something tangible they will respond to like a special offer or a free trial or an exclusive opportunity on an advance purchase of a hotly anticipated item. Even a game or an app that dramatizes the value proposition of your marketing message is a more effective way of engaging your audience than Market Over-Sharing to the audience you are working so hard to cultivate and keep.

For marketers, sharing is selling. Your audience is always just one click away from either going to your website, checking out your competition, or ignoring you altogether. If you over-share without offering value, your audience will drift and blow away like Chicago Snow.


The ABCs Of F-Commerce

E-Commerce is the process of developing, marketing, selling, delivering, servicing and paying for products and services on the internet. Typically, this means building a website to interact and transact with your customers. Your marketing drives people to the site, and the experience those customers have on the site will largely determine the chances of them coming back.

But “F-Commerce”, or Facebook Commerce, is different from E-Commerce. It’s almost the reverse perspective of E-Commerce in that customers and prospects are already on Facebook—it’s the marketer who must put their business there.

Facebook isn’t a website, it’s an internet platform. It’s a daily destination for the vast majority of regular internet users, almost regardless of demographic categories. It’s a consumer behavior that is increasingly relevant in peoples’ lives (whether they will admit it or not, 750 million people can’t be wrong).

Some of the world’s biggest brands are selling their goods and services on Facebook, and industry watchers are predicting that in 5 years more sales will be transacted on Facebook than on Amazon. This isn’t hard to believe when you consider how many ways a marketer can do business on the world’s busiest internet portal:

F-Stores: Facebook’s development platforms allow brands to install widgets that convert their Facebook page to an online store, with the ability to tap directly into their e-commerce website and supply chain, process orders and payments, and manage their customer relationships.

Group Buying: Trade “likes” for dollars. Provide your Facebook followers special offers that get better with every person who clicks the “like” button associated with your offer. Or generate significant social network buzz by announcing that a special deal will “go live” when an X-amount of people click the “like” button. It’s not just word-of-mouth, it’s crowd-sourced purchasing power.

Exclusive Offers: With traditional e-commerce (not an oxymoron anymore) you can make special offers to a known group of people—the folks on your list. On Facebook your offers go directly to your page fans, and any action they take on your offer is announced and opened up to their social network. You don’t need to ask them to forward the offer to a friend because all activity on Facebook is viral to begin with.

Facebook Connect: This permission-based marketing approach is conceptually similar to the opt-in, but it goes beyond allowing the marketer to connect with the prospect 1-on-1; it’s a 1-on-1-on-infinity relationship because Facebook Connect asks the individual for permission to look at their entire network and gather information on everyone. Think there’s a huge hurdle to get over regarding privacy? Think again. Every Facebook app from Angry Birds to Scrabble to Twitter on Facebook, asks for permission to tap into the users network first using Facebook Connect. The global success of Angry Birds means millions of people decided that protecting the privacy of their network wasn’t so important after all. If the offer is great, people will do whatever it takes to get access to it.

Shop-And-Tell Plug-Ins: Built into your e-commerce site, these plug-ins will tell a shopper’s network about their recent purchase (with appropriate permission granted first), not only on Facebook, but on your e-commerce site itself. When someone visits your site, they can see if someone from their own Facebook network has purchased something from you. It’s a virtual testimonial, almost as if your friend were waiting at the store for you to say “hey, I just bought this here and you should too”.

Check-In Deals: Facebook took the Foursquare concept and potentially became the biggest check-in network on the internet and in mobile, with their already-huge user base. Incentivizing your customers and prospects to check-in at your brick and mortar location with a special offer is one of the most effective ways to drive foot traffic (remember real, actual stores?) to your business. If you operate a restaurant, offering a small discount off the bill in exchange for a Facebook check-in is not only a great way to advertise your existence and location, it’s also a tacit recommendation. And if the customer checks-in on Facebook and includes a favorable comment about their experience, then you’ve just received a review even Zagat’s can’t measure up to.

F-Commerce isn’t an alternative to E-Commerce, it’s an additional component of a fully integrated marketing campaign. Instead of driving customers to your business, F-Commerce drives your business to your customers. And in turn it can potentially drive your customers’ social networks back to your business.


Seismically Speaking

Mid-afternoon in the Midwest yesterday you could feel the earthquake, even if you didn't feel the earthquake.

From just south of Baltimore: Just experienced an earthquake at Walmart

From Westchester County, NY: Holy F*****g earthquake!!!!

From Columbus: whoa...did anyone else feel that?!? Ohio earthquake??

From way up on the north side of Chicago: did my desk just shake or am I imagining things?

From Brooklyn: a link to Loretta Swit singing "I Feel the Earth Move" on the Muppet Show, posted on YouTube

From Maryland: who felt the earthquake on the east coast of the USA? i did not. I was leaving my gym in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Did not feel a thing. It was 6.0 or something??

Back to Chicago: Holy s**t! My desk was shaking!

From North Carolina: Shakin' in Raleigh...how about you? Which earned responses of confirmed seismic activity in New Haven, CT, Boston, Northern Virginia, Jacksonville, NC, and Mount Vernon, NY. California reported stability, "tectonically speaking".

Sitting 16 floors up above a very busy Wacker Drive construction project in downtown Chicago, we didn't feel the earthquake. And if we did we probably confused it with a jackhammer. But we knew about the earthquake with the East Coast epicenter moments after it hit because people from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River started Facebooking about it.

All of the above Facebook postings were made in the span of less than two minutes. It's safe to say that they were most likely the first reactions these people had to just experiencing an earthquake--to immediately post something online about it. Almost 50% of the postings were made from a mobile device, which makes us wonder how many of these people were posting while evacuating a building. Each posting received an average of 4 responses (either comments, or likes). All in the span of less than two minutes.

Wouldn't it be amazing if your marketing could generate that kind of activity? It can.


Clicking Is The New Clipping: Coupons In The Digital Age

Contrary to the identity of coupon clippers from years past, the coupon is now cool.

It was unfathomable just a few years ago that a coupon company like Groupon would be considered fashionable or interesting enough to run a commercial during the Superbowl. But combine a struggling US economy with digital media, and a behavioral shift towards living socially online, and the result is a new life for the coupon.

Kantar Media reports the use of digital coupons grew by 60% in 2010, while printed free-standing inserts rose by 11%. This is incredible growth for a marketing strategy that hasn’t seen an increase in year-over-year usage since 1992.

Marketers are seeing digital coupons as a way to revitalize their brands by literally putting value in their customers’ hands, and refusing to cede market share to lower cost competitors. Coupons were once seen as a taboo for higher-end brands because they feared the discounting of their brand value more than the shortening of their margins. And now there is an implicit need to connect with people and help them afford the things they want to buy.

But this new coupon-chic is more than that. Coupons have become the clutter-busters in social media because people love to share with others how smart they are with their money. People want to tell other people that they got a great deal, and they want to help their friends get the same great deal. For a marketer, a coupon is now a social media badge of honor to be worn by loyal customers, new customers, and their networks of like-minded friends. Coupons can be shared, posted, liked, emailed, forwarded, and in the case of Groupon they can be collectively bargained for.

At The Weinstein Organization we have long recognized the value of the coupon. It is a great tool for increasing store and web site traffic, sales, and for building email databases. We enable our coupon emails to be easily shared on social networks to increase the effective reach of the campaign, thereby increasing the marketing footprint for our clients in ways no other strategy can match.