TAG | digital assets

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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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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Passing GO – Local Mobile Marketing

Local mobile marketing can be associated with a plethora of words: Opportunity, innovation, growth, gainfulness – the list goes on.

Whether you own a small business or a large corporation, your purchasing decisions will have a distinctly local bend to them, marking the true importance of the local aspect of local mobile marketing. Ultimately, no matter the size of your business, you should be concentrating on local as it applies to you.

Appropriately, Adam Horwitz and Tim Donovan bring you Local Mobile Monopoly. The duo originally teamed up for Mobile Monopoly, released in December 2010, which revealed how to make money using mobile phone marketing strategies.

Their new product, Local Mobile Monopoly, was released in March and comes in a training video, software and text messaging services format. The video trains marketers on how to best use local mobile marketing, and guarantees profits through the use of mobile phones. The all-in-one mobile marketing tool is geared to benefit a variety of businesses and is ideal for new users and experienced marketers alike. Ultimately, the service claims to empower marketers’ local efforts with guaranteed success, mainly because it is founded on the idea that the local market is a gold mine.

Let’s break down the details: According to the CTIA, The Wireless Association’s semiannual wireless industry survey, 91 percent of Americans own a mobile phone. About 20 percent of these users (50 million people) own “smart phones,” mobile phones with Internet browsing and emailing capabilities.

Since smart phones bring online search capabilities to mobile users, businesses should include mobile search strategies in their overall marketing plans. In one of the most common applications of mobile search, customers rely on map apps to locate local businesses while on the move. Platforms like Yelp, for example, have built-in search functionality coupled with ratings contributed by members. Through Yelp, people can access coupons and discounts posted by businesses and accessible through “check-ins” on smart phones. This benefits both the business and the customers, who can also notify friends of their location, giving the whole process a “game” feel as well.

As local marketing dollars rapidly shift from traditional to online channels, the benefits of mobile marketing for businesses become clearer. The ability to enter the mobile version of a web site, garner email access, conduct map searches, access social media for referrals and use text messages for offers, coupons, etc. is invaluable.

By 2015, almost 25% of local marketing spent will be in the online space. Local Mobile Monopoly is just one of the many new services that will materialize as this arena continues to grow.


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Which Platform Do I Get On? Part I

*This is the first of a two-part series on social media platforms.

The key to navigating the ever-growing world of social media is to divide and conquer. With three main types of social media platforms– those that help you network, the ones that help you promote, and those that help you share- ease of navigation is a necessity.

A platform that allows you to network, like Facebook or LinkedIn, is the most commonly used. Whether you’re interested in getting back in touch with an old flame or making new contacts in the business world, using a social networking site is the easiest way to do so.

Promoting platforms, like YouTube or personal blogs, allow you to do just that: promote. Oftentimes, it isn’t even clear what someone is promoting; personal-style blogs, for example, seem to be promoting nothing more than daily outfits. Upon closer look, however, many of these blogs feature the latest fashions, both in clothing form and through ads, and bloggers can be compensated, whether with money or gifts of clothing, etc.

Lastly, we have platforms that allow you to share, like Digg and Delicious. These platforms operate through closely-knit communities that are not easy to infiltrate. Try to get voted up on Digg and you’ll realize instantly that it takes months of interaction with other users to build up the trust needed to share within the community

If you’re a networker and you like sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, check out Quora. This platform is a sort of best-of the Q&A platform format; a combination of LinkedIn Answers or Yahoo Answers with the look, feel and simplicity of Twitter.

Also check out Color. The platform uses location-based services like GPS to allow users to share the photos on their handsets with people—both strangers and friends—nearby (within a 150-foot radius of a user). Users can also create albums and social groups for photos from a specific event, and can also comment on photos and shoot video.

If you like YouTube and WordPress, try Instagram. This is heaven for tech-junkies and social networking addicts. Snap a photo with your iPhone and then edit the photo as you like, choosing a filter to transform the look and feel. Then, send to Facebook, Twitter or Flickr – it’s photo sharing, reinvented.

If you like sites like Delicious because you enjoy the thrill of sharing sites with like-minded web users, try a social shopping experience in 2011. Sites like Svpply and Polyvore allow users to create inspiration boards, generate user feedback, and ultimately, mimic a real-time shopping experience, minus the long lines and annoying interactions.

Next week, we’ll discuss some more business-oriented social platforms, like Wildfire and Buddy Media.


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Facebook Fan Pages

As Facebook continues to grow, businesses, both small and large, are also learning how to best use the site in terms of business growth. Despite public dissatisfaction regarding Facebook’s privacy controls and shared information, most users can ultimately find satisfaction with the site, because it is an essential addition to any web working toolbox. The Facebook social networking experience is customizable, so it can be exactly what you need it to be. For a college student, this might mean that Facebook becomes the easiest way to meet people in the dorm, but for a company like Gap or Starbucks, Facebook offers an inexpensive way to attract new customers and interact with old ones.

The first step to Facebook success, in terms of business usage, is to understand the difference between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Group.

Facebook Fan Pages, unlike groups, are visible to unregistered people and are thus indexed. Groups, however, allow the user to send out “bulk” invites, inviting all of your friends to join the group in one time-saving swoop. While many users have figured out ways to get around this feature by using a simple, google-able code to send mass invites on pages, this feature (or lack thereof) on pages often leads to complaints.

Both pages and groups lend themselves well to hosting discussions, messaging to all members, and video and photo exchange. In terms of social media, however, pages seem to be more useful. On a page, users can promote their business using social, targeted ads, and a page administrator also has access to “page insights,” which chart visitor statistics and prove useful to anyone looking to grow a larger Facebook following.

Read more on the difference between Facebook pages and groups.

Facebook users can promote a Facebook page in a variety of ways. Below, we suggest five tactics:

  1. Have Good Content: This should go unsaid, but it is surprising how many businesses try to promote Facebook Pages that are…lacking. No matter how many ads you buy, or how often you tweet special deals on your FB page and mention it on your LinkedIn account, if the content on your page is stale, no one will be interested. Look at it this way: You can find basic information about Starbucks on their main website, right? If you’re interested in the drinks they serve and how much they cost, or if you’re looking for a drive-thru location, look no further than the main site. The Starbucks Facebook Page, however, which is “Liked” by almost 19 million people, allows fans to virtually “check in” to Starbucks. It features photos of Starbucks fans from around the world, it allows fans of the coffee company to suggest their ideas, and it features oft-updated deals and specials. In other words, it has become a community that isn’t frequented by only die-hard fans. It’s a place that someone who may not even like coffee visits because of the fun material.
  2. Cross Promote: Once you have exciting material on your Page, don’t be afraid to cross promote. Whether you want to link to your Twitter account or your LinkedIn page, or you want to link to your YouTube account, take advantage of the multiple social networks you have access to. Some businesses will Tweet about special deals they have available only on their Facebook Page, leading Twitter followers to check out the page. In order to have access to the special deal, these users must then “Like” the page and viola, another follower is gained. Post YouTube videos on your Facebook as well, and you’ll be surprised at the new followers you’ll gain.
  3. Update Frequently: Say you start out with great content and cross promote, and you end up being “liked” by 20,000 people. That’s a great start, and although there isn’t a maximum number of pages a person can “like,” most businesses are surprised to find that Facebook users are fickle. They “unlike” pages (oh yes, they can do that) just as quickly as they like them, and while it is more difficult to gain followers than to lose them, disengaged users are the kiss of death. By updating frequently, you give people a reason not just to visit your site, but to look forward to new content, new images, maybe even new deals.
  4. Incentivize Your Page: You’ll be facing competition from mega-companies like Fusion Beauty, who can afford to offer the first 10,000 “likes” on their page a free tube of lip gloss. Not every incentive has to be a free product, however. Whether you’re offering ten percent off of a cup of coffee or access to a behind-the-scenes video, your followers want to feel like they are getting something exclusive.
  5. Personalize It: Facebook Fan Pages in the beauty sector, such as the page for MAC Cosmetics , often feature a section dedicated solely to user photo uploads. Now, this personalizes the MAC page in many ways; most effectively, it allows users to feel personally connected to the giant cosmetic company through the simple act of uploading their own photo. The page for Eat Pray Love doesn’t feature that perk, but it asks users, “What is one thing in life your friends said you could/would never do, but you did it anyway?” It starts conversations, and that is what makes it special to the people who “like” it.

Also check out 12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally and 7 Reasons Why You NEED A Facebook Fan Page.

And once you’re really comfortable using the Facebook Fan Page, post on other user’s walls AS the page, not as yourself.


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Cyber Monday

This weekend, Black Friday shoppers spent an average of $365.34, up from last year’s average of $343.31 per customer. Total spending for Black Friday 2010: An estimated $45 billion. http://bit.ly/f5OWYe

In this age of the internet, however, retailers are expecting even more financial success on Cyber Monday, a more recent phenomenon. Since 2005, the Monday after Black Friday has been called the “Biggest Online Shopping Day of the Year,” with many consumers making their purchases from home or (more likely) from office computers.

The most trending topic on the web on Thanksgiving Day was “Black Friday Ads.” Not surprisingly, this year, retailers are taking advantage of social media to increase their sales. If you “like” certain retailers’ Facebook pages, you’ll have access to special deals.

If you like the Sears’ Facebook page, for example, you’ll also “have the power to unlock great deals.”

When you check into Sports Authority using Foursquare, you can win a $500 gift certificate.

Many small retailers have also been using Cyber Monday as a chance to connect with consumers using personalized tweets, moving past the assumption in earlier years that this online shopping day is for big businesses only.

In fact, this Cyber Monday is looking to be the perfect time for many under-the-radar businesses to launch themselves into a bigger market by using their social media savvy. Here, some tips for businesses on how to incorporate social media into their Black Monday advertising: http://www.fruitzoom.com/2010/11/cyber-monday-37-tips-to-leverage-social-media-zoom-monday-sales/ By leveraging social media and internet marketing for both online and offline traffic, businesses can up profits and internet presence.

This week, Best Buy has used Twitter to inform shoppers of bargains, but in a more resourceful use of social media, they are also using Twitter as an instant customer service solution. The company has their Twitter accounts staffed and ready to answer questions about problem purchases … all in 140 characters or less.

Check out the best deals, from electronics to sporting goods and apparel to gardening supplies, on http://www.cybermonday.com/


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Get Your Assets In Order

While not digital, these assets grab attention

While not digital, these assets grab attention

One of the most interesting things we see happen time and time again – most recently with a film promotion – is the lack of basic digital assets. What are these? We’re talking a logo, a few banners, images, video, widgets, editorial content and whatever else you can provide your team and the public-at-large with to make their engagement with your brand or project more visually stimulating and relevant.

The more you have, the more they get used…and shared…and re-used on other sites whereby expanding your reach and awareness well beyond the narrow focus of your website and/or social media profiles. By the way, bloggers love to have assets to punctuate their posts. Most of the time, these items are quick and easy to develop. They can be created on an ongoing basis as other items are being prepared such as offline marketing materials, packaging or other online media. One quick side note while we are talking about creating – when you start designing, think about your social media profiles which, let’s face it, are de rigueur. Start building and skinning your Facebook or Twitter profiles while building everything else.

Oh and finally, if you want people to run with your brand (and remember, this is what happens with all successful brands anyway) you might as well make these assets easy to share. We love how Groupon kills two birds with one stone via their “e-schwag” widget-meets-banner.


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