The Holidays are likely to be the most important time of year for retailers. Each brand is vying for a coveted spot under the Christmas tree. In the past few weeks I know I have seen a deluge of emails from retailers regarding deals and specials. Some of these retailers, I’m not even sure how I got on their list.

Emails mass distributed by retailers are one tactic used to build loyalty, brand recognition and purchase intent.  But it’s a hard sell to consumers who are bombarded with the Holiday hoopla, and many retail emails end up in the trash…or worse on the spam list.

According to Chad White, research director at Smith-Harmon and author of the Retail Email Blog, here are several things that can add can help retailers stand out during this time. For example:

  • When moving closer to the holiday months, it’s a good idea to add small touches to email templates that indicate a change and entice readers to check out the special deals for the season.
  • Subtle changes can do wonders. Home Depot, for example, added a bow on top of its logo last year. However, White warns retailers to,  “be careful, however, about putting too much of a Christmas skew on your campaigns; keep them more in line with the holiday season and spirit as a whole.”
  • Depending on the brand, consider making custom emails, especially for big events such as Black Friday. For example, Overstock.com did a negative-type email for Black Friday, which would normally be an email faux pas; but using a black background and white type helped the company stand out among the clutter (just remember to TEST, TEST, TEST before sending out).
  • One of the biggest mistakes that email marketers need to avoid is underestimating the effect that design can have on email performance, especially during the holiday period. Quality design helps present the brand in a positive way, separates the brand from competitors, and helps increase sales. Small design changes, such as the placement of buttons, the use of images, and slight edits on the layout, can make all the difference and will help make retail email campaigns much more appealing.

One of my favorite holiday retail emails that I think follows all of White’s tips came from Lululemon.

Lululemon email example

Williams, A. (October 2009). Email Marketing Tips for the 2009 Holiday Season. Retrieved from http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2009/3113/email-marketing-tips-for-the-2009-holiday-season

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Are you an oversharer?

I subscribe to Women’s Health magazine. I think the magazine provides an eclectic view of women today; everything from our love of fashion to our dependence on technology.

The December issue of the magazine featured an article on the common practice of oversharing entitled, “Curb Your Urge to Overshare.” The article discussed the recent trend of self-promotion on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter . Accompanying the article are several hilarious photos that demonstrate our need to overshare. In one a young woman is kissing a man while trying to use her cell phone. In another the same young woman is using a computer/webcam to help her select an outfit. Another, and perhaps the funniest of them all, the same young woman is seen using on her cell phone with her pants around her ankles as she simultaneously uses the restroom.

According to media expert Steven Johnson, author of the best selling book Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, “At first updates were a more efficient way of sharing the normal stuff you’d talk about with friends – a really on your friends were reading them. Paradoxically, as people’s social networks have grown, they have become less cautious and more brazen.”

Additionally, Danah Boyd, Ph.D., (no relation) a social media researcher at Microsoft Research and fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society adds, “This is the digital street, where the goal is to see and be seen,” she says. “People want to be noticed, even among their friends. Getting noticed is hard. So they use different tactic most of which are well known to middle schoolers. There’s the gross-out approach, the slut approach, the I’m-cooler-than-thou approach, and the help-me approach.”

I immediately thought of my recent Facebook status update…a comment about the impending snowstorm that is headed to my area tonight and thought…. WHO CARES?!?! Most of my friends have cable or Internet and can check the weather themselves; they don’t  need me to be their Facebook friend/meteorologist.

Moore, F. ( January/February 2009). Curb Your Urge To Overshare. Women’s Health Magazine.

These days it seems like everyone is jumping on the Web 2.0 bandwagon. Everyone has a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a YouTube channel…even if they stink. Emerging media is something that everyone wants, some people acquire it but very few people actually “get it.”

So what’s good and what’s bad? What works and what doesn’t? It’s all very important when crafting your Web 2.0 image because, after all this is the first and sometimes only impression that people will get.

I found Chaney’s Ten Commandments for Effective Online Social Networking a very helpful guidance on this topic. Below is a quick run-down of Chaney’s “commandments.” Click on the link above to read the full article.

1. Pull, Don’t Push

As Chaney states, “new tools require new rules” and this is certainly true for emerging media. While this may be the beauty of tactic, it can also be the bane as marketers struggle to adjust to a new way of think that doesn’t constantly involve stuffing messages and promotions down the throat of consumers. If they want your products and services, they will come to you. It’s really just up to you to give them a reason.

2. Win the Right to Be Heard

According to Chaney, “social engagement is a conversation, and participation in the community is required. In fact, you might say that participation is the fifth P of marketing. (The four Ps are product, price, place, and promotion.). Your value as a participant is judged by the value you provide to the community as a whole.” So get out there. Comment, question, be seen and heard throughout the emerging media space and you will be rewarded.

3. Content Is Still King, but Conversation Is Queen (and Conversion Is the Prince)

“Nothing beats well-written, informative, entertaining content in all its forms: blog posts, tweets, videos, podcasts, images, webinars, or whitepapers.” Become the resident expert in your given social media community.

4. Authenticity and Transparency Are Social-Networking Cornerstones

This one is simple. Chaney’s fourth commandment: “Be real. Be open. Be honest. Admit mistakes when you make them.”

5. You Don’t Have to Be on Every Social Network

“It’s impossible to maintain an active presence on every social network, and you don’t have to. You do have to be where your customers are, however. They expect you to be there.” If you don’t have a strong following on Twitter but you do on Facebook, focus your efforts there instead.

6. Give, and You Shall Receive

Having an attitude of helpfulness goes a long way toward establishing a credible name for yourself in social-media circles. Share what you know with the emerging media world… because you couldn’t prevent it if you tried.

7. Don’t Throw the Marketing Baby out With the Bath Water

“The rules of marketing still apply to social media—well, most of the rules, anyway. Social media is another channel to build your brand and market your message. It’s not a panacea, and it’s not a replacement for other forms of advertising and marketing,” says Chaney.

8. Social Media Is a Mindset, Not Just a Toolset

Social media is not a campaign in and of itself. It has to be integrated into the various other parts of your activities, used in correlation and conjunction with what you are already doing to make it better. According to the author, “don’t just change your toolset (tactics); change your mindset (strategy).”

9. Be Yourself, Whoever That May Be

Put simply and in the context of social media: be a person within a brand, not just a brand. “That’s not to say you shouldn’t have an identity tied to your brand. It’s just that in social media people would rather relate to and build trust with other people than with brands. It’s a trust economy, after all.”

10. Social Media Is Not a Religion

One of the best parts of emerging media is that it is continually evolving into what the market demands at that current moment. My constantly evaluating and finding new ways in which people use, respond and react to emerging media is what makes it so unique. As Chaney states in his final commandment, “experimentation is the only way the medium will grow.”

Chaney, P. (December 2009). Ten Commandments for Effective Online Social Networking. Retrieved on December 07, 2009 from http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2009/3213/ten-commandments-for-effective-online-social-networking

I think I shared this with you all but just in case I didn’t, I work for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Specifically, I support the Office of Information Protection & Risk Management. We ensure that the personal and private information (like electronic health records, social security numbers and other personally identifiable information) of our Veteran’s and their beneficiaries is kept secure.

This is done in a number of interesting and technical ways that I will probably never fully understand but my team is tasked with making sure that everyone in our office and within VA is aware of these methods.

So I’ve learned a great deal about safe passwords, data encryption and more.

This got me thinking about all of the nasty things out there in the world of emerging media. We’ve all heard the horror stories of identity theft and we all know how feared a Trojan virus is. Unfortunately many of the emerging media tactics that we are employing get a bad reputation.  Take for instance the recent onslaught of Facebook viruses or the various worms linked to Twitter.

Should we as marketers be concerned that the sites we are now so frequently directing consumers too may be laden with cyber criminals? I certainly don’t know the answer but I can’t help but think of the negative press this could cause for a company if they send consumers to an infected site.

I suppose for now the only way to prevent this is to work with strong IT professionals who know what they are doing and can keep companies and their consumers out of trouble.

What do you think? How can this be prevented? Do companies have an ethical responsibility to help keep their information secure? As a marketing professional is it worth worrying about?

Professor Post made a recommendation on my Week Two Assignment to consider what my chosen company was doing as far as recruiting on Facebook. Immediately after receiving this feedback, I had a “Why didn’t I think of that!?” moment because sure enough my chosen company has a very robust Facebook page; they host events, post messages and are a regular Facebook contributor.

I enjoy Facebook but I find it funny that there is such a divide among companies who use it as a valid tool for social marketing and those put up a firewall and avoid it like the plague. The company I work for uses Facebook regularly but my client wants nothing to do with it. While I can understand both sides of the coin, I wonder why there is such a drastic divide.

I understand that a primary concern is the presence of viruses and malware. That was the reasoning behind the Military’s recent ban of all social networking sites this summer. “These internet sites in general are a proven haven for malicious actors and content and are particularly high risk due to information exposure, user generated content and targeting by adversaries,” reads a Marine Corps order, issued on Monday, August 03, 2009. “The very nature of SNS [social network sites] creates a larger attack and exploitation window, exposes unnecessary information to adversaries and provides an easy conduit for information leakage that puts OPSEC [operational security], COMSEC [communications security], [and] personnel… at an elevated risk of compromise” (Wired, 2009). But then again isn’t that what you have an IT/Tech Support for?

Besides with its growing popularity it’s almost worth the risk to reach and interact with the mass of people using Facebook.  According to a New York Times article (which Professor Post shared with us via the Discussion Board) by Kermit Pattison, “You need to be where your customers are and your prospective customers are,” said Clara Shih, author of “The Facebook Era” (Pearson Education, 2009). “And with 300 million people on Facebook, and still growing, that’s increasingly where your audience is for a lot of products and services” (Pattison, 2009). Paul Chaney agrees, stating that “For many reasons, Facebook can be used effectively as a tool for business…What benefits can be accrued? Quite a few: brand awareness, personal engagement with your customers and prospects, a network that allows fans to easily and quickly share your message, and inexpensive advertising to boot. What’s not to like?” (Chaney, 2009).  

Personally, I almost prefer companies that use social media. On Facebook in particular I like getting information and news in a place that I visit regularly. The yoga studio that I go to has a Facebook page and is always send invites and messages. I also like that I can show my support for them on Facebook. It’s kind of a win-win.

Does anyone have any experiences or viewpoints with businesses and social media?

References:

Chaney, P. (November 17, 2009). Yes, Facebook Is a Business Tool. Retrieved on November 18, 2009 from http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2009/3167/yes-facebook-is-a-business-tool/?adref=znnpbsc43B9

Pattison, K. (November 11, 2009). How to Market Your Business with Facebook. Retrieved on November 18, 2009 from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/12/business/smallbusiness/12guide.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

Shachtman, N. (August 03, 2009). Marines Ban Twitter, MySpace, Facebook. Retrieved on November 18, 2009 from http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/08/marines-ban-twitter-myspace-facebook/

According to an article published today in Reuter’s, the word “unfriend” has been named as the 2009 word of the year.

The word is used as a verb that means to remove someone as a “friend” on a social networking side such as Facebook. According to Christine Lindberg, senior lexicographer for Oxford’s U.S. dictionary program, “it has both currency and potential longevity.”

This is an interesting development as this term would not exist were it not for emerging media and its development. As we continue to enhance and expand upon technology, it will undoubtedly begin to bleed into our daily vocabulary. Other technological terms that were considered by Reuter’s included:

  • “hashtag”, which is the hash sign added to a word or phrase that lets Twitter users search for tweets similarly tagged;
  • “intexticated” for when people are distracted by texting while driving, and
  • “sexting”, which is the sending of sexually explicit SMSs and pictures by cellphone.

When you think about it how many other terms do we use on a daily basis that have been introduced into our lexicon through the use of emerging media. If you had asked someone to describe Facebook or explain a Tweet 10 years ago you would have likely gotten some odd looks and interesting explanations.

So what do you think?

 

 

Over the past week/weekend I had to go out-of-town for a family function. During this time I had the opportunity to chat with five people between the ages of 18-25.

 

Everyone assumes that teens and young adults are current and up-to-date with the latest trends of emerging media. I know I expected nothing less from this group.

 

The conversation went from the topic of cell phones and Facebook to Twitter at which point it took a drastic turn. The group went from being gung-ho about social media to being somewhat unsure and defensive. Someone asked if anyone had a Twitter account. Another person replied with, “No, what the heck do you even talk about on there?!” I interjected with, “Well I’ve used it before at work to get advice or recommendations on things.”

 

The conversation continued on as several members of the group poked fun at Twitter and Tweets. They made up fictitious tweets about random daily activities like, “Making a PB&J sandwich,”  “Taking a shower,” or  “Cleaning my room.” At the end of the conversation it seemed that the consensus (all but me) were not in favor of  Twitter.

 

I started considering how many people and businesses respond this way when faced with a new technology. Unsure of how to use new technologies and what the usefulness of them are, people seem to balk.

 

One location on the web that I have found useful for putting social media into layman’s terms for my clients is http://www.slideshare.net.  It’s here that I found this helpful presentation on explaining Twitter and tweet. It is called 20 Ways to Tweet: For Companies, Corporations & Small Businesses.

We live in a time where it is feasible to be connected 24/7. I know that even as I am lying in bed at  night my iPhone is perched on the nightstand chirping and buzzing with every email message it receives.

Advertisers would probably argue that this is a good thing. Total access if you will. However, I started wondering if this was really a good thing.

According to David Lewis of the International Stress Management Association originated the phrase “information fatigue syndrome.” This is the barrage of data to which we are constantly exposed carries a cost, both physically and mentally.

I find this all very interesting because, I know that I have a hard time being disconnected from my cell phone and computer. I wonder if other feel the same and if this could eventually have any implications for communicators.

Will we eventually become sick of the current emerging media and give it up. Or will we just move on to something else.

And what will the impact be from our current methods. Being able to connect with people at any time day or night is great but will that stretch our boundaries beyond reasonable limits. For example, you can be solicited for an online advertisement whenever you are online, where ever you are at,  anytime day or night. I don’t think that’s wrong but I wonder what that means for the future of other communication channels such as interpersonal communication or telemarketing.

References:

VanWinkle, W. (n.d.). Information Overload; Fighting data asphyxiation is difficult but possible. Retrieved on November 10, 2009 from http://www.gdrc.org/icts/i-overload/infoload.html

My introduction to emerging media came from a fellow undergrad classmate turned colleague.  My friend Steve also attended Bethany College but was a few years older than me. He graduated and went on to get a great job with big consulting firm in Washington, DC called Booz Allen Hamilton.  A few years passed and it was time for me to begin looking for internships. I asked my friend if he had any advice and the rest is history. I have been at Booz Allen for about three and half years.

As a firm, Booz Allen prides itself on being at the top of our technological game.  We excel at two things, technology and communications. So why not combine them? Last year, Steve was given a several million dollar budget to expand the use and capabilities of social media within the firm. It is now one of our top service offerings that we provide out clients.

Basically, my friend is paid to stay on-top of current media trends and has a staff of people who help him investigate the ways that these trends can be used for our clients. He has become a firm expert on the topic and people throughout the firm now think of him when they think of social media.

Why I am telling you this? It’s not because I am recruiting members for his fan club. Instead, I am simply amazed and impressed that Booz Allen was willing to offer him time and money to basically research this topic and consider the ways in which it could be used for our clients. I think this just exemplifies that fact that emerging media should be a priority for businesses. In the past year or so, I have seen countless number of clients adopt social media tactics. These are all typically government clients who are slightly farther behind the curve than commercial or other clients. If the government is considering blogs, imagine what the rest of the world is up to? Regardless, it has been fruitful for my company, our clients and my colleague.

Today I use emerging media in several ways with my client. We are assisting my client in developing a blog for DisGover, we have employed net meetings, video simulcast and web-based emails and newsletters to communicate with employees of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Below are two Booz Allen/Web 2.0 links for your enjoyment:

Hi and welcome to my IMC 619 Blog-

Emerging media is a topic that should be considered by nearly every marketer these days. If you feel that you are immune to it, you’re wrong. It’s truly the wave of the future…that is, until the next new technological break through occurs. For the next nine weeks, we’ll discuss the topic of emerging media and how it impacts us as marketers.  I look forward to chatting more with you about this topic!

By now, we’ve all probably had a “So what?!?” moment. Why is emerging media important? Who cares?  Well, consider for a moment the number of emerging media tools and devices you come into contact with on daily basis…

I would venture to guess it’s somewhere between 5-10. Am I close?

There are so many gizmos and gadgets on the market today that we are inundated with new technology. Likewise, there are many ways that we (marketers) can use new technology to our advantage.

Cell phones have gone from simple two-way communication channels to interactive, hand-held computing devices. If you work on a computer chances are you’ll come across a banner or pop-up ad at some point during the day. Emerging media is inescapable and that is why it is so popular. We use so many of these new technology tools on a regular basis that any company would be foolish not capitalize on the advent of them.

Emerging media matters because it is the most interactive, personalized, appropriate and frankly the most popular way to reach consumers.  In addition, emerging media is an excellent companion to more traditional forms of marketing. In a recent article featured in Wired Magazine, Jamie Schultz VP of Marketing and Distribution for Chaos Squared explains how the company leveraged current social media trends against more established viral marketing trends. According to Schultz, “Chaos Squared knows social media trends inside and out partnering with one of the largest online marketing companies, CPX Interactive. Through the use of online contests, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, online banner ads as well as traditional marketing elements, Chaos Squared is influencing the right people to purchase Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet” (Wired, 2009).

References:

Silver, C. (October 29, 2009). Organized Chaos: Viral Marketing, Meet Social Media. Wired Magazine. Retrieved on Monday, November 02, 2009 from http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/10/organized-chaos-2/

Welcome to my site.

Me

Nice to see you here!

Welcome!

Welcome to my IMC 619 Blog!

I am looking forward to discussing the interesting world of emerging media with you.

Check back often as I will be posting regularly.

Thanks!

- Chelsea

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