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Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Social Marketing Brands and Risk

When asked to talk about the challenges and risks of a brand associated with social media (SM) I immediately thought of epic fails. You might remember the Kenneth Cole hoopla about a year ago?

Evidently the designer Kenneth Cole (himself) is active on Twitter. Well last February he hijacked the hastag #cairo. Yes, the same one that was used to report the troubled news in Egypt. He sent out a Tweet that said, “”Millions are in uproar in #Cairo.”

He did this to promote a new Spring fashion collection.

This set the Twitterverse abuzz with lots of protesters saying the fashion designer was insensitive to real issues in the world: People dying in Egypt.

Many debated whether or not the Tweet that came from a Blackberry and was tagged with a “KC” was written by Cole himself. Or was it someone on his team? Did it mater?

Indeed there was an apology Tweet that went out a day later <!/KennethCole/status/33206062215598080>

“Re Egypt tweet: we weren’t intending to make light of a serious situation. We understand the sensitivity of this historic moment –KC”

Perhaps there should have been a hyperlink to a more formal, polished apology? They didn’t. They did launch another Twitter handle @KennethColePR was established to help put out the fire. It doesn’t seem like many accepted the apology.

Sure it makes sense for a designer to be active in SM. When this happened, the company had Facebook and Twitter pages. Prior to the incident, the Twitter account seemed to connect with KC customers. It posted events and sales and responded to Tweets.

The brand was also all over traditional media from billboards to print mags and transit ads. The campaigns were integrated. Thematic elements were consistent with a blend of beautiful photography and art direction.

Whether online or offline media, the ads were always controversial <;.

“Over the years I’ve used my brand platform to raise awareness about vital social issues to remind people that it’s not just what they look like on the outside, but who they are on the inside; and not just what they stand in, but what they stand for,” says Kenneth Cole. “When I first started out, the means of communicating we have today didn’t exist. So in this new age of social media, I wanted to use this campaign to re-energize a debate with customers and like minded individuals around certain provocative, and at the same time, defining social issues.” <;

So what went wrong? Well it is clear to me that there was no overall SM strategy in place. Not to mention, it didn’t seem as if there was any type of crisis prevention in the loop until it happened (or it never would have).

Social media maven Jeremiah Owyang shared some great insights and tips about crisis planning and preparing for social media attacks.

<;. Although he wrote in a couple years ago, the advice is still critical:

  • Companies must have a community strategy –don’t jump without a parachute.


  • Hire seasoned community managers –don’t relegate to PR intern.


  • Plan and practice for the worse –yet live for the best.


Social media can be the best and worst thing that’s happened to a brand. What do you think Kenneth Cole should have done about this? Have you seen more recent epic social media fails? If so, share them here.


Coffee Companies Creating Social Buzz

Simply put, coffee is social. It has been for years. So it’s no surprise that large coffee retailers like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have been early adopters of social media.

Think about it, if you are in New England you are either a Starbucks person or a Dunkin Donuts person. It’s some of the most brand loyalty I’ve ever seen.

I’m a tried and true Starbucks gal. It’s certainly not hard to find, the stores are on just about every corner as I walk into work. I have the Starbucks mobile app. The Barista scans my phone daily deducting the money for my Grande non-fat latte.

If I need to add money to it (which I often do) it takes a matter of seconds. Not to mention they are accepted at over 1,00o locations (including one nearby me in a Target Store)

You’ve probably seen Starbucks QR codes in print magazines, newspapers and transit ads. Although I’m not a big fan of the technology, I see more and more people scanning them with their Smartphones

Starbucks is all over Facebook with over 62 million “likes” and 763,000 people talking about the brand

Of course the company is active on Twitter @Starbucks as well with over 2 million followers.

Although I’m not a Dunkin’s gal per se, I have great respect for the local brand. It too has had one of the most successful social media campaigns called “Create Next Donut” <>. Consumers got to create a menu item. The stats were impressive with over 130,000 submissions, and 174,000 registered voters to determine a winner.

The company also ran a clever promotion to promote the “mixology” potential of its Coolatta drinks, Dunkin’ Donuts asked fans to collaborate on a playlist of summery songs that would go well with fan’s favorite Coolatta flavors. According to a Mashable article, Dunkin’ Donuts asked fans to collaborate on a playlist of summery songs that would go well with fan’s favorite Coolatta flavors.

The campaign netted 300,000 new Facebook fans while over 40,000 Pandora users added “The ultimate Coolatta summer music mix!” to their list of stations and spent nearly 14,000 hours listening to the station.


Dunkins is also active but not as successful on Twitter @Dunkins with close to 130,000 followers.

As far as Facebook, it has 5.8 million “likes” and over 114,000 people talking about the brand.

Both brands have been active on FourSquare and Google Places. Just look around and see who’s checking in.

What I liked best is Dunkin Donuts combines offline media, online media, social media and street marketing here in Boston. You can follow, Tweet, like, check in or show up at a shop and be selected by a brand ambassador to win Red Sox tickets. There’s nothing better than coffee AND free tickets. I wish Starbucks would do that.

So tell me, have you followed, friended, liked, Tweeted, scanned a QR code or checked in to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts via social media?

Being Social Media


I’m happy to see that according to the 2011 Social Media Examiner Report,

marketers place a high value on social media. In fact, 90% of marketers surveyed said social media is important for their business.

Other top line findings include:

Online Retailers did, however, point to a number of benefits (to using social media), such as building brand awareness and improving customer service:

  • 90% said search-engine marketing was the most effective source used to acquire customers last year, and they see social marketing strategies as experimental and needing further exploration.
  • 82% said they’re pursuing social networking simply to learn more about what it can do.
  • 62% said their return on investment was either unaffected by social media or that the benefits remain unclear.
  • 61% said they see the primary ROI from social marketing as “listening to and better understanding our customers.”
  • 52% said they’re participating because they don’t want to be left behind.
  • 45% cited the tremendous buzz about social networking as reason to participate.
  • 37% said they’re participating because it’s inexpensive to do so.


So when I was asked to think of industries successfully using social media I immediately thought of online retailer Zappos The company sells shoes, clothing and accessories online.

Since joining Twitter a few years ago, I immediately learned of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay)!/zappos.

For those of you who don’t know the story, Tony (then 24 years old) sold the company (he cofounded) Link Exchange to Microsoft for $265MM USD.

Tony joined Zappos as an advisor and investor then CEO. He brought the company from close to no sales to about a billion dollars in gross merchandise sales annually [Source:].

Toward the end of 1999 Zappos was acquired by for about $1.2 billion USD. Tony is still the CEO.

It is no doubt the company is steeped in social media. On its Facebook welcome tab it says, “Let’s be in a like-like relationship.” The page encourages fans and has open dialogue with customers.

After a fan “likes” Zappos on Facebook, they are asked to join an email list. And so the relationship continues. Each offer disocunts, news about new products, exclusive content and videos.

To further enhance to social experience there are custom widgets that fans display their comments and accolades to name a few.

In an interview by Cliff Michaels,

“Tony has not only created a paradigm shift in corporate culture, he’s delivering happiness to thousands of employees and millions of online loyalists through “fun, change, and a little weirdness.”

As Tony says, “Your culture is your brand. Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.” [Source:]

So has social media efforts been successful? You tell me.


The Value of a Friend, Follow or Connection?

Social media usage, activity and revenue are on the rise. No matter what the stat, fact, figure out there, Facebook dominates the social media (SM) space.

As you know Facebook finally filed for an IPO this past week. To no surprise it’s predicted to be one of the biggest tech IPOs of all time. Pundits are saying it’ll be about a whopping $100 Million USD. This 800 pound gorilla in the social media (SM) sphere claims 800 million active users that have made over 100 billion connections with people in the network. The average FB user has 245 friends and growing. Half of all users go online daily.

Facebook had profits of $1 billion on sales of $3.7 billion last year. Its money is mainly made from ad revuenue. CNBC referenced web measurement leader ComScore in a recent article As ComScore simply dubbed it, “Facebook’s winning in the battle for display advertising dollars.”

According to the company’s findings:

Facebook accounts for 15% of total (ad dollars) spent online (Google and Microsoft are at 10% each)

It is responsible for 28% of all display ads seen online in the US  (that’s up 5% from last year)

ComScore reveals online advertisers on Facebook:

  • Telecom giant AT&T spent 25% of all its ad impressions on Facebook last year (10 billion impressions)
  • Experian Interactive, which markets financial products like and with 18.5% percent of display ad impressions
  • IAC had 33% of impressions
  • Walt Disney Company had 28%
  • Google came in at 19%

Of course the appeal of Facebook ads is sheer reach. In a traditional digital display environment, only the big spenders can get a share of voice (SOV). Well on Facebook, the ace-in-the-hole is that more than 61% of Facebook ads come from advertisers outside the top 1,000 (ComScore 2011).

Of course, lest we forget the long awaited big tech IPO of the professional networking site LinkedIn last year? According to an EWeek article LinkedIn went public at $83 May 19, 2011, and shocked the high-tech world by soaring to $122.70 before closing at $93.86 (today its at $72.)

The company is still hot. It boasts that every second two people are creating their professional networking profile on its site. There are 135 million members. The company said its revenue is $139 million USD.

LinkedIn makes its money selling Premium Subscriptions ($28.4 million), Hiring Solutions products ($71 million) and Marketing Solutions products ($40.1 million) <Source:>.

The company continues to offer new products and features. One is called Classmates that allows users to connect with fellow alumni. It also redesigned its mobile offerings.

What will be the next big tech IPO? Many say microblogging platform Twitter. In fact, Twitter was rumored to IPO in 2011. Reuters valued the company at $7.7 billion USD.

The company has successfully garnered 500 million active users globally. There are over 200 million Tweets sent out daily.

Twitter has been scrutinized by being too slow to roll out its ad platform. However, last year it ramped up Promoted Tweets, Promoted Trends and Promoted Accounts. There is also a way advertisers can push Tweets regardless if the user is a follower or not. It is also working on a revshare deal with third-party developers serving Promoted Tweets in their Twitter apps. It’s no doubt that we will see an increase in US revenue from political advertisers.

The company launched a photo sharing service last August. In less than six months it became the largest surpassing social media veteran company Flickr founded back in 2003 and sold to Yahoo for about $40 million USD in 2005.

All Things D asked real-time search engine Topsy to pull numbers about photo sharing on Twitter from the past year. Twitter users shared 58.4 million photos in December, and the number of photos shared grew 421% over the course of the year. <Source:>.

As an online marketer I am impressed and admittedly a bit blurred by the sheer numbers. On one hand it is my dream come true: to see such engagement and loyalty. On the other it’s a bit of careful-what-you-wish for.

So if you don’t know them already look at social media monitoring companies like Radian6 owned by Salesforce http://www.salesforce. The company is one of several that monitors whats being said and done on the social web.

In the meantime, I’ll be trending and tracking as I steep in the social web. I’ll leave you with a question, how do you value a friend, follow or connection?

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