TAG | consumer

Pinterest Drives Revenue

J Crew Pinterest Media Needle BlogWhen we talk to clients about social media they usually talk about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but depending on the brands goals the real opportunity could be on Pinterest. Pinterest is the first social platform not only to drive eyeballs but also to convert significant sales.

Pinterest helped put Warby Parker on the map. In May 2012 Warby Parker said, “We saw traffic quadruple from Pinterest” and “Traffic from Pinterest converts at a higher rate than traffic from Facebook and Twitter.” Customers who come to the site via Pinterest actually bought more glasses.

Fast forward to Internet Week May 2013. Scott Galloway (Professor of Marketing, NYU’s Stern School of Business and Founder, L2) spoke about  how new “small data” streams are changing luxury. Galloway noted that Pinterest performs best for home décor, weddings and fashion retail brands.

To illustrate how brands are taking that idea to heart, on August 26 2013, J.Crew’s at-home catalog subscribers won’t be the first to glimpse the brand’s September issue: That honor will fall for the first time to J.Crew’s Pinterest followers, says Lauren Indvik from Mashable.

Pinterest is more than a virtual vision board. It’s an at-home retail shopping mall that users can browse from their couch. Its demographic is mostly women, and Ad Week says women are five times more likely to be on Pinterest than men. With 38% of Pinterest users between the ages of 18-49, it’s a market that won’t be ignored.

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The Rebirth of Daily Deals

daily deal blog media needle

The daily deal business has changed a lot over the past few years. While it’s true that consumers still want to save a few bucks (perhaps more than ever), they’ve largely abandoned the model of prepaying for deals that are valid for only a short time—not to mention the challenge of remembering to use them if they do shell out for them.

Unlike the daily deals of yore, today’s deals are rarely listed for just 24 hours; they tend to run for a week or so, or until an allotted amount are sold.

On the vendor side, the old business model was a bust. The cost to acquire customers proved greater than their lifetime value; further, the deals were typically not profitable for most vendors once they got their cut from the deal company. The small business community was hit up repeatedly by numerous companies guaranteeing to increase sales, but the daily deals never really lived up to the promise of delivering local repeat business.

While many deal companies died following Groupon and LivingSocial down a rabbit hole, there are still a multitude of them, looking to develop social commerce sales any way they can. @Groupon, which is valued at a very substantial $3.5 billion, seems to be catching a second wind under the watchful eye of Eric Lefkofsky and looks to be leveraging its massive global footprint while adding to its arsenal of offerings with @Woot-type physical products. @LivingSocial seems to be re-focused on travel and experiential offerings. @Yelp deals are more merchant-friendly in its self-service approach to letting vendors determine the nature of the deals and discounts they wish to offer. (This also costs Yelp next to nothing, as it does not need to maintain an active sales force, like most other deal sites.)

One of my favorite deal companies remains @BlackboardEats. Its service is clean and easy; you get an email offer (not daily) that allows you to download a passcode for a restaurant discount. The best part is that you do not pay anything until you actually use the passcode—a much less intrusive way to offer value to foodies.

There have been a lot of successful specialty deal sites, from high-end baby stuff at @Totsy to hyperniche sites like @BiteDownDeals, for dentists looking to get discounted equipment/supplies. While their customer bases may be smaller than those of other deal companies, these are targeted audiences of subscribers—as opposed to larger deal sites where customers who prefer not to see their inboxes fill up with useless offers can opt not to subscribe and come only when they want to see what’s available—more pull, less push.

There are also new deal aggregators. @ShopChippmunk is a new savings search engine for deals that allows you to search based on parameters including budget. This seems an improvement on traditional aggregator models like @Yipit, which focus less on customer experience and still require email registration just to view deals.

Meanwhile, many brands are running their own deals or offering discounts and coupons directly through their sites and social media communities. @CoupSmart is a smart social commerce solution that empowers established brands to run deals in a variety of ways directly through their Facebook pages, while allowing the brand to keep all of that valuable customer data, rather than the deal company owning it.

Stay tuned for my next blog when I will look at how predictive analytics and strategy simulations can help decipher big data.

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Social Media & The World

Social media is affecting the world in big ways, both good and bad. Just a few years ago, news didn’t travel as quickly as it now does through Twitter, Facebook, news aggregators, etc. Positively, this means we have access to world news in a matter of seconds, and we no longer have to wait for the evening news to catch up on daily occurrences (see: social media’s role in Egypt’s 2011 Revolution). Negatively, especially for those in the public eye, this means that nothing goes unreported, even private pictures sent through a site like Twitter (see: Anthony Weiner). We take a look at some ways social media is affecting the way we look at religion, sports and politics:

Religion: The Catholic Church has joined Facebook and Twitter. In June, The Vatican announced the launch of a social media-integrated official news website, news.va, that will make heavy use of social networks. Pope Benedict XVI himself sent out the first papal tweet. News.va will function essentially as a Vatican and Catholic Church-related news aggregator, republishing stories from L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio, Vatican Television, the Fides news agency and from Vatican media relations. Livestreaming of Papal events will also be featured, along with links to homilies, statements, and speeches. Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese-language versions of the site will be launched over the next few months. Users will also be able to post links on Twitter and share stories on their Facebook walls.

Sports: The International Olympic Committee has issued rules for athletes using social media at the 2012 London Games. The athletes are encouraged to “post, blog and tweet their experiences,” but forbidden from using Twitter, Facebook or personal blogs for commercial or advertising purposes or to share videos filmed at Olympics venues. If the rules are broken, athletes are warned that it can withdraw accreditation, shut down online operations and start legal action for damages. These new social media rules come after some controversy at the 2010 Vancouver games, where US skier Julia Mancuso was asked to stop online merchandise sales after her silver medal-winning performances generated interest in her official website. Some of the other social media stipulations for London? Posts, blogs, etc. should be in first-person, should not contain vulgar or obscene words or images, and should not reveal confidential information. “Unlike in Vancouver, where the rules were adapted to fit changed circumstances, the rules in force in London have been properly codified,” the IOC said.

Politics: In mid-June, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., resigned from Congress in the wake of a sexting scandal. The move, which abruptly put an end to Weiner’s on-the-rise political career, serves as a warning to politicians and lawmakers about dealing with the social media world. To recap:  Reports indicated that a college student had received a sexually suggestive photo from Weiner’s Twitter account. Weiner denied sending it, saying the account had been hacked, but as more texts and photos of the congressman surfaced, Weiner finally admitted that he’d sent the photo. The story picked up and more revelations surfaced, including messages to a 17-year-old Delaware girl. Ultimately, Weiner sought a leave of absence and said he’d seek treatment. While Weiner isn’t the first politician to deal with a sex scandal, the incident reverberates as politicians grapple with the new world of social media. It should serve as a “serious warning sign to politicians,” said Steven Schier, a professor of political science at Carleton College in Minnesota, that that they need to be careful. “They send out this stuff unfiltered, so the risk is increased considerably,” Schier said.

In what other ways is social media changing the world? Tell us in the comments!

 

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Social Media Whets Appetites for Pop-Up Restaurants

Are you in a restaurant rut? Hungry, but not sure where to go? Often, hitting the old neighborhood standby, with its familiar menu—maybe even a waiter who knows your name—can be the path of least resistance.

But on occasion, a bit of experimentation is in order, and it can be well worth the effort. The best laboratories in the food world right now are pop-up restaurants, in which a well-known chef takes over someone else’s kitchen for a temporary run.

Unfettered of the responsibilities of managing overhead costs or assembling a permanent menu that covers all dietary bases, pop-up chefs let their imaginations run wild. When was the last time you had teriyaki rabbit meatballs with foie gras and yuzu? That was on a recent dinner menu at a pop-up in Los Angeles, in which a French chef took over the kitchen of a casual Asian lunch spot.

So, how does one find out about these fleeting eateries? Social media, of course. Like gourmet food trucks—which rely on food blogs, Twitter, and Facebook to spread word of their ever-changing locations in real time—pop-ups use social media networking as their principal, and often only, marketing vehicle. According to a National Restaurant Association spokesperson, the time-sensitive nature and “experimental aspect” of pop-ups make them particularly ripe for promotion via the blogosphere. And it seems to be working: The trade group has named pop-ups and food trucks as the biggest expected industry trend for 2011.

Indeed, social media are largely responsible for pushing the pop-up concept from the exclusive realm of in-the-know foodies to the mainstream. The Sundance Channel even has a new TV show about pop-ups, “Ludo Bites America.” Now, hardcore foodies are trying to come up with new dining experiences reserved for only the most plugged-in-events such as a “flash mob”-style gourmet dinner served on the New York subway, or a Manhattan version of Paris’ ultra-exclusive Dîner en Blanc, planned for a secret location in August. Will these gourmands succeed in excluding the hungry hoi polloi from their hush-hush “underground” meals? As we know, all it takes is one innocent little Tweet, and the word is out….

Check out more on the business of pop-up restaurants here.

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Facebook Pages

Unsurprisingly, Facebook’s top branded fan page is…Facebook’s own Facebook page, now at around 40 million fans. Last month, a few more surprising brands made it into the top 50, including:

Playboy:  Newcomer Playboy rounded out the top 50 as number 47, with 5,038,757 fans. It bumped Forever 21 off the list, which just goes to show the power of those…bunny ears?

Red Bull: Red Bull ( number eight ) has been a steady fixture on this list for a while now. The energy-drink superstars keep their 20 million plus fans engaged daily with interesting apps, such as access to Red Bull Athletes on Twitter, Red Bull Web TV, and games, such as the Soapbox Racer.

Ferrero Rocher: Number 17 on the list, the Ferrero Rocher fan page features not much to engage its 11 million fans besides pictures of the delicious chocolate. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

Disneyland: The Disneyland fan page jumped two spots to number 22, keeping fans entertained with an app that allows them to share their favorite Disney memories. The page’s almost nine million fans also have a chance to ask vacation planning questions when traveling to Disneyland, and users can even create a stick figure Disney family!

What are your favorite Facebook pages and why? Share with us!

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Social Media Tools

Social Media moves at a remarkably fast pace, meaning that just one month in social media time can lead to stunning new developments, including new tools that allow you to save both time and money. Let’s take a look at some of this month and last month’s newest tools:

Panabee:  This site is truly a one-stop shop; search for available web domains by desired address or via associated keywords, browse related terms, the Google definition, and more. A simple entry like “safety pin” in the search box immediately yielded suggestions for available domains (safetypinn.com and gosafetypin.com) since our first choice (safetypin.com) was already taken. Panabee also pulled up to-the-minute twitter feeds relating to safety pins, as well as the top Google searches related to the product. Consider us hooked.

AppMakr: This free ‘drag and drop’ tool allows you to create your own mobile apps on iPhone, Windows and Android. It might signal the full arrival of mass mobile media and allows you to see the thousands of apps that have already been created using the site, by people just like you!

IconSeeker:  This site solves the difficult problem of finding social media icons to suit your site. While Google Image search can leave you with hundreds of options as far as site icons, IconSeeker narrows the results down to only the best. Example: We searched “fire” on both IconSeeker and Google Images. The results speak for themselves: and

Facebook Vanity:  Check out the availability of Facebook URLs in a matter of seconds, and grab yours if its available- it makes for a professional addition to your business card to have your profile listed as facebook.com/john.smith, versus facebook.com/skjdwi13.

PeerIndex: Use it to get an initial feel of key conversation drivers in a particular field.

What social media tools do you use on a daily basis? Tell us some of your new favorites in the comments.

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Google (+1)

Do you like things? That is, do you often, or even sometimes, “like” the news story, music video, picture or status that your Facebook friend has posted? Chances are, you’ve “liked” something in the past year; it has become second nature to most of the Facebook-using world. Which is why Google’s new service, +1, which launched a few months ago, may be turning your “like”-heavy world upside down.

The explanatory copy reads:

Use the +1 button to publicly show what you like, agree with, or recommend on the web. The +1 button can appear in a variety of places, both on Google and on sites across the web. For example, you might see a +1 button for a Google search result, Google ad, or next to an article you’re reading on your favorite news site. Your +1’s and your social connections also help improve the content you see in Google Search.

Hmm, sounds familiar…

Google’s +1 competes directly with the Facebook like button, in that it serves as a signal for determining what content appeals to a certain individual. Google, as the world’s largest search engine, integrated the product immediately. Since the mega-site accounts for over half of incoming traffic on many sites, publishers had a marked interest in implementing +1. The question is, aside from Google’s touting of the product, is it actually that great?

First of all, at its most basic, it’s hard to argue that “+1” is a great name. How awkward is it to tell someone, “Yeah, I totally just +1’d that page; check it out!” It just doesn’t flow that smoothly. “Liking” something, on the other hand, comes pretty naturally to most of us.

Furthermore, when you +1 something, the +1 button will turn blue and the +1 will be added to the +1′s tab of your profile. Meaning, anyone who wants to participate in +1’ing has to create a Google profile as a sort of basecamp. There, you can manage all your +1’s.

Whether or not you choose to make your +1’s public through sharing, they will be visible to others viewing the content. Meaning, you really shouldn’t +1 something you wouldn’t want your boss to stumble across, because your name could appear next to the +1 to help your friends and contacts identify which content may be most useful to them. +1’ing is a public action, and although one would wonder why you’d “like” or “+1” something you wouldn’t want others to see, this visibility aspect is nonetheless an irritating one.

Google’s goal is clear; they want to be bigger players on the social media field, and who better to steal plays from than Facebook? Google will need to be markedly aggressive in order to implement +1, which started off as an experimental feature. However, they don’t exactly have a great track record in the world of social media; i.e. Buzz. What Google does have going for them is influence, but as we’ve seen with other social media failures, influence can only carry a brand so far if their product fails to deliver.

So, is +1 for you? Let us know in the comments!

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Social Media Agencies

Since we’ve recently highlighted a few of our favorite social media case studies, this week we thought we’d bring attention to some top social media agencies and what they are doing. These are the agencies that are setting the bar high and implementing innovative social media marketing.

There are many types of social media companies; some are research focused, some feature a team of app developers, some are extending and developing upon tradition PR. The best social media agencies combine these skills and help companies extend their brands through training, long term strategy, and execution.

Mullen is a full-service modern advertising agency, with clients ranging from Fage Greek yogurt to the Department of Defense. National brands like Zappos, Olympus and Jet Blue have turned to Mullen for campaigns; last year, the social-media savvy JetBlue chose Mullen as its lead advertising and marketing agency.  The You Above All campaign  featured a full mix of media including online, social media, in-flight, print, and out-of-home components. For the social media portion of their campaign, the agency created a series of hidden camera scenarios called Ground Rules. The unscripted videos poke fun at other airlines’ service policies  by featuring real people in being deprived of things they’ve come to expect, such as legroom in a taxi and a full can of soda from a street vendor. The videos were primarily shown through a YouTube homepage takeover.

Ignite is a social media agency completely and exclusively focused on social media marketing. As opposed to PR and marketing firms that offer elements of social media marketing (like Mullen), Ignite’s team of tech, creative, account, and strategy professionals form a complete social media company, solely dedicated to the interactive and social media markets. Their work for Bing is one example of their success in the social media market.  Bing wanted a tab on their Facebook Page that would showcase the variety of what Bing Travel has to offer its fans. Ignite created a tab with a standardized background to tie all of the individual pieces together; each individual section engages the fan in a different aspect of Bing Travel. Fans can also share Bing Travel elements on other social networks, by retweeting Did You Know facts on Twitter, for example.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky, an advertising agency based out of Miami, is known mostly for viral marketing techniques. Their Subservient Chicken campaign for Burger King was created to promote the chain’s TenderCrisp chicken sandwich and the “Have it Your Way” campaign.  Crispin created the “The Subservient Chicken” web page, on which a “chicken” performs actions based on user input, showing pre-recorded footage and appearing like an interactive webcam. The site is meant to capitalize on the slogan: “Get chicken just the way you like it”.

Have you come across any social media agencies doing some truly innovative work? Let us know in the comments!

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Social Media in Unusual Places

This week, we take a look at a few more cool social media case studies and the success certain brands have seen from their efforts. While in the past, social media campaigns were best used by marketing giants like Coca-Cola and Burberry, today social media is present in many industries, including healthcare, real estate and even credit card companies. Here are a few of our favorites unexpected uses of social media:

Mall of America: Lisa Grimm, digital public relations specialist for the Mall of America in Minnesota, recently shared the success of one of the Mall’s most triumphant campaigns. Since the most difficult time to park at the mall is during Christmas week, the Mall of America team decided to take advantage of this increase in activity to boost their social media following. The team decided to actually auction off parking spaces in the front row of the mall’s lot, but only to their social media followers. By using the parking event’s hashtag on Twitter, followers were entered into the auction. The campaign was a success: The Mall’s Twitter following increased by 11% and the campaign was covered by Forbes, among other news outlets. This campaign is just one example of the far-reaching grasp of social media.

Century 21 Real Estate: Century 21, a leader in real estate, recently revealed that QR codes will be available on Century 21 signs. These custom bar codes can be scanned on a smartphone and will direct you to specific information, such as a real estate listing.

American Express: American Express has been heavily targeting small business in the US for the past few months. One feature of their campaign is the American Express OPEN and Facebook collaboration called Big Break for Small Business.  The national contest was designed to help transform the way small businesses use Facebook, and of course, to publicize American Express as the leader for small business use. Business owners could enter to win an all-expense paid trip to Facebook headquarters for a two-day “boot camp” and a US $20,000 cash prize by submitting responses to a short questionnaire. Over 10,000 businesses entered to win their “big break,” and on July 5th the five finalists will be subject to a public vote. Read an interview with Rosa Alfonso of of the American Express Open program here.

The No Kids Hungry Pledge: Share our Strength, a non-profit organization, is working through their Facebook page to help end childhood hunger. On their custom welcome page, they ask you to take a pledge and help end childhood hunger by 2015. Once you sign up by providing your email and zip code, you receive an email asking you to help spread the word by way of social status updates (templated Facebook and Twitter posts) or via email. Note, they don’t ask for money or for you to volunteer your time. In doing so, Share our Strength is building their email database while gaining trust from their new fans.

Have you seen any cool uses of social media in the past few months? Share with us in the comments section!

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A successful Facebook promotion does more than get “liked” by fans. It is a powerful way to generate buzz, to engage existing fans and boost  fan count, to spark the interest of potential clients; ultimately, it is a way to grow your brand.

The most triumphant Facebook contests/promotions have a few characteristics in common:

  • Organization: In today’s social media- savvy world, just posting your contest on your Facebook wall and hoping for the best won’t get you very far. Approach your Facebook contest as you would a traditional media campaign. Have a plan of attack ready from the start: How many entries would you like, ideally? Or the flip side: If you get only five entries, will you be prepared to shut the contest down? In other words, what is your minimum and what is your maximum? If you spend $100 on a contest app and promotion, will you be happy with 20 new fans? 50? It takes work to maintain a Facebook contest; on the upside, you could gain hundreds of new fans and expand your company, but on the downside, you could seriously alienate your existing fans with poor response time and sloppy organization.
  • Prize: The easiest way to figure out what to give away? Poll your existing audience and ask them what prize justifies contest entry. This is free, and you’ll get, if nothing else, inspiration. Ultimately, you’ll want to give away something that you’d be excited to receive yourself. Brainstorm with your team, with friends, with family, and ask: What prize would be worth what we are asking you to do? No one is going to submit a video or a post a picture in order to win an outdated electronic or a sub-par food product.
  • Promotion: Since social media doesn’t usually rely on press releases, think of other ways to get the word out. Email bloggers, tweet about your contest, place a link on your actual website. Actively promoting your contest on a daily basis is necessary, but you have to think past garnering the attention of your current followers, because you want new ones. Approach large Facebook pages that are similar to yours to set up a sort of promotional exchange. Ask friends to contact their networks.

Some of the greatest Facebook promotions have taken all these steps and more:

Facebook giant Red Bull, with over 18 million fans, often features fun contests. In 2010, their “Create the Next Red Bull Commercial” Contest excited both techies and non-techies alike. Entries could be sent by story board, video clip, hand drawn illustrations or a conventional script.

Discovery Adventures, a subsidiary of the Discovery Channel, is currently running a contest that is geared to increase its current 4,303 likes by…a lot. Fans can enter to win a trip to Italy for two, including airfare, sponsored by Pompeii the Exhibit. Clearly, Discovery has found a model that works for them and is sticking to it; their Italy contest mirrors their last contest, called Win a Trip to Egypt, featuring a 9 day Egyptian archeological adventure for two. Facebook contest rule #4394390- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Conan O’Brien’s Facebook Page currently features his F*Cards promotion. “Sometimes it’s hard to compose just the right status update or wall post for those uniquely Facebook moments,” the app explains. “So why not let Conan O’Brien do your Facetalkin’ for you with F-Cards? Huh? How? Watch this video and let Conan explain…” In under a minute, I’m intrigued and I’m amused. It’s fun and while there is no prize, this is promotion at its best: Conan is engaging his fans, who will most likely link to him on their own pages and give him free publicity.

While these big-brand Facebook contests & promotions have been wildly successful, when creating your own, make sure to read the fine print.

In the past few years, Facebook has changed the rules regarding contests quite a few times, mostly recently in November 2010. The most notable rule is this one: You MUST use an app to conduct a contest or risk facing the wrath of Facebook. Ultimately, while a Facebook contest or promotion requires hard work to succeed, the payoff of a well-executed campaign is well worth it.

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