Is Facebook engaging you?

28 06 2011

Since I’ve been on Facebook, I’ve “liked” several company pages. Some I “liked” because I was conducting research:

Some I “liked” for personal reasons:

Are you seeing a pattern here? Yes, in my limited spare time, I either cook or read.

For companies who want to connect with consumers, Facebook is fertile ground, particularly since people spend an average of seven hours a month on the social networking site, according to a recent study by the Nielsen Company.  And, Facebook now has nearly 700 million users.

My favorite marketing guys, Scott Stratten and David Meerman Scott say Facebook gives companies and organizations an opportunity to talk to and, more importantly, listen to people, develop a relationship with them, enhance customer service, build brand awareness and loyalty, and learn what people are saying about them and their competitors.

But, I have never felt particularly engaged on any of the pages I “like,” except for one.

However, most of the brands I mentioned have lots of “likes.” Red Bull has more than 21 million. The Food Network’s page has nearly 1.5 million. Hershey’s  has 2.2 million.

So, when it comes to engagement, are these brands doing it right? Or, am I doing something wrong? Engagement is a two-way street; perhaps I’m not holding up my end.

What do you think? What company Facebook pages do you “like” and why? Are these companies engaging you? Tell me. I really want to know.


To blog or not to blog. That’s the question

24 06 2011

I understand why companies and organizations blog. By blogging, they can provide valuable information, answer questions and engage customers, all which help to build brand awareness and brand loyalty.

As a university, it makes sense that we have a blog. After all, there are many topics we could tackle to, as Erica Swallow says, provide insight into our areas of expertise:

  • The admissions process
  • Demystifying the mystical world of financial aid
  • Academic majors and the careers they could lead to
  • Residential life and dealing with roommate issues

But …

Who should write it?

As the unofficial campus word nerd, fingers would be pointing my way. And, I’m not shirking from work, but I’m not sure I’m the best person. Remember, I’m a marketer. Posts coming from me likely would be viewed as pure marketing-speak, and we know that successful blogs needs to be viewed as authentic. But, how do I ask someone or a couple of someones to take on the task when most people on our campus already have enough to do?

Who should our audience be?

Should we focus on prospective students? Their parents? Current students? Donors? It’s an important question since our content will hinge upon the answer. While there will be some overlap – everyone cares about financial aid – most topics will interest only one audience.  Donors won’t care about roommate issues but students sure will.

Can we do it without being stuffy?

Universities tend to be formal, stoic, and stuffy, which would be disastrous for a blog because an effective blog needs to be personable and exude personality as Jon Burg says.

What are your thoughts?

Before I take my blogging idea to the president, I want to know your thoughts. Should there be one writer or several like Southwest Airlines has on its blog, Nuts About Southwest? Should it come from our president, like the one from the University of Southern Mississippi  or someone else? What topics should we tackle?

Each comment with feedback equals one doggie treat for Izzie,

who’s one hungry puppy. (Let’s face it. Every blog should have at least one gratuitous puppy picture.)

Cicada ice cream and packing light

23 06 2011

Do you read corporate blogs? I never did until I embarked on the I-think-I’ll-get-a-master’s-degree odyssey. There are many out there. Some are good. Some are, well, not so good.  

Douglas Karr and Chantelle Flannery provide a long list of the ones they think are best. Some of the companies you’d expect are on the list like Zappos (does Zappos ever do anything wrong?), Microsoft,  Amazon and Coca-Cola.

A recent Coke blog post begins: “My name is Stephanie Nestor, and I am the summer intern here at the Coca-Cola Archives.” How cute is that? Can’t you just picture Stephanie at her computer, working on the blog?

That personal touch is one of the things that makes Coke’s blog appealing, according to Jonathan Burg,who says an effective corporate blog should exude personality; it should speak like a person.

Another blog with personality is the one from Southwest Airlines, Nuts About Southwest.

One of the best aspects of this blog is that it’s written by several different employees, and each post features the writer’s name and photo. According to Burg, it’s also important to have a likeable and relevant face behind the blog. All of these folks seem pretty likable, don’t you think?

But, there are a few surprises on the best corporate blogs list.

Rubbermaid. Yes, that Rubbermaid.

Don’t laugh. This site offers lots of practical advice, such as how to pack a cooler when traveling and how to reorganize office files. Providing useful and valuable information on a blog, according to Mark Evans, is, well, invaluable.

The New York Times.

The bastion of journalism has its own blog, which supplements the national and international reporting of the paper.  

Turkey Hill ice cream.

The post on June 16 featured a family-owned ice cream shop that made cicada (you know, the bugs) ice cream. No kidding. That headline really caught my eye: “Would you eat it: Cicada ice cream.” A good headline, Evans said, is also important in capturing readers’ attention.

So, are there any corporate blogs you read? If so, tell me which ones and why. I really want to know.

Spreading a virus that doesn’t make you sick

21 06 2011

I’m always flabbergasted by what goes viral, and I don’t mean the H1N1 virus. I’m amazed by what we pass around to each other online in exponential fashion. You know what I mean: videos, articles or photos that we see posted somewhere that prompt us to share them with friends and family.

Scott Stratten, one of my favorite marketing guys and author of “UnMarketing. Stop Marketing. Start Engaging,” says you know something is viral when you say, “Holy sweet mother, did you see what just happened? … I’ve got to show this to somebody.”

Most recently, here are a couple of things I’ve shared. More than 35 million (yes, million) have viewed this video of this young girl singing Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”

On his blog, Scott posted about an awesome experience he had with Magnum Ice Cream. I, too, thought it was awesome and shared it.

What have others shared with me?

My friend James, one of the smartest people I know, shared this amazingly cheesy video the other day. I’m stunned that it has had 390,008 views. Watch it, and you’ll wonder as well. But, it did meet Scott’s criteria of “Holy sweet mother, did you see what just happened?”

James also sent this one, which has 694,501 views so far. It’s like a train wreck: awful yet I can’t look away.

 I can’t imagine sharing this with my granddaughter, “B.” I think it would scare the ruffled panties right off of her.

So, what does all this sharing mean for people like me, marketers? Well, we all know that people value much more content they get from family and friends than from marketers. So, if your friend sends you a photo or video or article about our university, you’ll likely pay more attention to it than if you got it from me. Admit it. It’s OK. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Although, we can help the process along by making sure that the content is easy to share, includes something for free, and is something people will want to share because sharing it will make them look cool or smart.

Here’s one more for you. This shows you how to make the best prime rib ever. Again, it came from James. I made it last fall and was a culinary hero in my house.  Just follow the instructions exactly, and you’ll be a culinary hero, too.

Now it’s your turn. What have you shared and why? Tell me. I really want to know.

It’s all fun and games until …

16 06 2011

I’m not a gamer. In fact, the last game I played was Tekken, when my son was small. He would choose Alex, the T-Rex  and I would pick Roger, the kangaroo, and we’d duke it out.





Before that? I’m almost embarrassed to admit: Pacman and Frogger, which we played at an arcade a block away from our college.

So, I’m a little inept when it comes to advergaming.  What is advergaming?  It’s using electronic games to promote a product or brand. I’m sure you’ve seen them.  Many companies and organizations have made them.

Here, try a few out:

Coke Zero


Capri Sun


These games can be used to drive brand awareness, educate people about a product, and provide compelling calls to action, according to Mike Hawkyard, co-founder of 4TS Multimedia.  But, to be successful, first, the games must be fun. They must be highly addictive and enjoyable, that put the fun first and the advertising second.

Have you ever played one? Did you notice the ad part or was it just fun? (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) Did playing the game encourage you to purchase the product?

Tell me. I really want to know.

Brother (Sister), can you spare a dime?

14 06 2011

I now know what I need to do to successfully market our university. I need to hire a hot actor or actress and a great director and make a short film. Of course, I’ll also need a boatload of cash.

BMW did it 2001 and 2002 when it created “The Hire,” a series of eight short films starring Clive Owens (the aforementioned hot actor) and featuring the directorial talents of Ang Lee, Ridley and Tony Scott, and Guy Ritchie, who directed his then-wife Madonna in one episode.

Each film features Clive as the “driver” of a particular BMW model, whose style and performance are clearly demonstrated. But, it’s the compelling story (and Clive) that keeps you watching.  If you haven’t seen any of them, watch one.

“Ambush” was the first in the series.

Are you hooked? If so, you can watch all eight.

The series was widely popular, garnering more than 100 million views. BMW even created DVDs of the series and gave them away to customers at certain BMW dealerships. Genius.

 Sarah Chong says she’s never seen such captivating and thrilling ads. The series, she says, helped BMW gain a 12 percent increase in sales.

The series was also lauded by the press, including The New York Times and Time magazine. And, BMW received awards from the Cannes International Film Advertising Festival and the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival. The series is also part of a permanent collection in the Museum of Modern Art.

Wow, if I could get Madonna, Clive, and Ang, imagine the great film we could make to market the university.

What do you think? Are you willing to contribute to the cause? Send me your spare change, ‘cause I’m gonna need that boatload of cash.

Oh, the fun you can have with banner ads

9 06 2011

Banner ads can do that? That was my initial thought when some of my much younger classmates schooled me on the level of creativity that comes with some banner ads. (Here’s my shout out to Joyce and Dustin.)

But first, a little background: I’m old. Well, not old, but I’m old enough to remember a fledgling Internet (actually I can remember looooong before the Internet) where banner ads covered the entire width of a web page and were ugly as sin on a stick. Did anyone ever pay attention to those?

So, when the topic of banner ads came up recently, I was still thinking about those awful ads. But oh, how things have changed. Banner ads are now creative, interesting, fun and, most important, interactive.

According to Ashley Ringrose, the curator for Bannerblog, interactivity increases brand recall by 63 percent more than those boring static banner ads I remember. Also, and you don’t need to be a genius to know this, if we get a potential customer involved, he or she will understand more than if we  merely tell them or show them something.

Here are some banner ads to check out. Play with them then tell me what you think.

Lipton Tea:








Coke Zero:

Pringles potato chips:

 Blogger Chris Rawlinson says this ad is possibly the best banner ad in the world. But, I don’t want to sway your opinion. 










Volkswagen GTI and the VW truck race

OK, now that you’ve had your fun, which one did you like best? Which one did you spend the most time with? With one will you remember?