Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's driving your website traffic?


(traffic sources for this blog)


Do you follow the Tila Tequila model or do you see the big picture?

Tila Tequila Model:
Tila Tequila became a celebrity figure after she accumulated a million friends on Myspace. Tequila's enormous Dunbar number solidified her popularity and paved the way for her own MTV show.

Everyday companies and brands mimic this marketing approach on social networks. From creating Facebook fan pages to adding Myspace friends, the "add me" marketing tactic is often the sole focus of a company's online marketing strategy.


See the big picture:
A high Dunbar number will increase a brand's authenticity and create website traffic, but it's also crucial to focus on search engine optimization. Whenever a search is conducted for topics related to your brand, you want your site on top of the results. The more related metadata content posted on your website or blog, the more likely your site will appear.

The strategy sounds basic, but you will be surprised how many brands concentrate on the "add me" strategy and neglect optimizing the content posted on their site.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Innovators


(David Pogue by Tiner)


(Clive Thompson by Tiner)


(Robert Scoble by Tiner)

Project 10^100



To celebrate its tenth birthday, Google launched Project 10^100 a "call for ideas that could help as many people as possible, and a program to bring the best of those ideas to life." The ten best ideas will each receive a ten million dollar grant.

In an era where $2 million will buy a 30 second commercial spot on the Super Bowl, Google's cause-related marketing project will positively impact the world for the long term.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What defines a friendship today?

We are friends on Facebook.

You follow me on Twitter.

I subscribe to your blog.

As digital media accelerates our interactions, the definitions of traditional friendships are redefined. Our constant hyper connectivity removes the barriers of distance and unfamiliarity. Instantly, we're able to instantly capture, post and share content.

Are digital interactions valuable?
In Ectasy of Communication, Jean Baudrillard insists "the content of communication is completely without meaning: the only thing that is communicated is communication itself." Baudrillard argues that digital media and online interactions diminish the value of communication.

Should we agree with Baudrillard?

Is real life interaction the only form of communication that matters?

No. In an era of short attention spans, it's extremely difficult to quickly articulate yourself. Digital media establish the framework to connect and engage at our own convenience and comfort.

What defines a friendship today?
Prior to social media, friendships were developed with real life interactions. You met, connected and engaged in the real world. Friendships were enhanced with traditional communication tools, such as telephone calls or written notes.

Today, friendships are defined by regular physical and digital interaction. Simply because you regularly see a celebrity on Perez Hilton or view a Flickr photo album, doesn't mean that you are friends with that person. The interaction needs to be reciprocated.

Although Baudrillard argued that digital media diminishes the value of communication, constant text messaging, tweeting, instant messaging, poking and private messaging create 24/7 availability and erode barriers of distance.

We have the power. It's up to us to decide how to use the tools.

Brand U.O



David Aramano writes a fun post about my portrait series.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I will sell this house today.

"I will sell this house today, I will sell this house today."
-Carolyn Burnham, American Beauty

Visualize. Accomplish.

Are you writing down your goals? Or are you aimlessly drifting?

From successful marketing campaigns to personal achievements, writing down your goals allows your ambitions to be visualized and ultimately accomplished. You can't expect to walk through life and have success approach you, you need to be the prophet. According to Merton's self-fulfilling prophecy, "a definition of a situation evokes a new behavior which makes the conception come true."

Similar to the Law of Attraction, concentrating on good goals will allow you to achieve good goals. Concentrate on the bad and you can kiss that promotion goodbye. Write down your goals and suddenly you're swinging for the fences.

Think this sounds like a bunch of academic theory?
Well, give it a try. You may be surprised what you are capable of accomplishing.




Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Power of Her


(screenshot of Blogher.com's traffic)

Oprah is the queen bee, but the swarm is closing the popularity gap.

BlogHer.com, a directory of female bloggers, has seen its traffic double in the past two months from 200 thousand unique visitors to over 600 thousand unique visitors (see chart above). Keep in mind this is only a directory and does not reflect the various traffic to the thousands of female authored blogs.

The pastime of the traditional soccer mom shifted from watching daytime soaps to sharing thoughts, insight and information with a global audience. Women read, share and discuss. Successful brands will continue to leverage this understanding with future marketing campaigns.

Either with a free product sample or inviting bloghers to join an exclusive forum, the key is to encourage influential female bloggers to discuss your product, brand or service. Bloghers are a powerful gatekeeper and getting them excited to write about your produce will create buzz that spread from blog to blog, creating valuable word-of-mouth.

Oprah has her book club, but bloghers have their 24/7 opinions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The First Hit is Always Free

If you want a to reach a large target audience, try giving away the first hit for free. ....And Cheech, I'm not talking about Pineapple Express. From free food samples at Costco to musicians posting sample tracks, this strategy is utilized by a range of industries.

Keep your audience wanting more.
Authors don't post their best passages on their blogs, they keep them for their books.

Remember you are building your brand for the long term. You are not a one-hit wonder. Don't be tempted to post your best content first or say everything upfront, keep your audience wanting more.

It's okay to join the competition.
Hulu.com, a free media player, posts clippings of television shows on competitor's websites, like Youtube. Hulu.com brands the content with the Hulu logo, which encourages Youtube visitors to visit Hulu and see the full length episode.

If you are looking for places to reach your audience, try hanging out with your competition. Give away that sample hit and watch them come back for more.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Innovators
















The Empire Strikes Back



In an effort to compete with Apple's growing market share and ubiquitous marketing, Microsoft recently launched a 300 million dollar "image improvement" campaign. The goal is to redefine the stereotypical "boring" Microsoft user depicted in Apple's advertisements.

The first teaser commercials feature Bill Gates & Jerry Seinfeld enjoying life as everyday Americans. At 10 million USD, was Seinfeld the right celebrity to launch the campaign? Seinfeld's popularity peaked during the 1990s with his television show, the same time that Apple's mainstream popularity started to accelerate. Is Seinfeld the innovative image that will help redefine a technology brand for the 21st century?

From political bloggers to Pharell to Eva Longoria, the new Microsoft commercials that launch this week depict everyday Microsoft users. The advertisements personalize Apple's interpretation of the stereotypical Microsoft user. Will it work ?

The consumer's experience is the key.
From aesthetic facades to passionate employees to simple store layouts, the experience of buying an Apple is exciting and rewarding for a consumer. The positive experience generates buzz for the company and encourages Apple users to share passion for the brand.

Did Apple's shopping experience exist ten a decade ago? No, ten years ago Apple was sold in corners of generic computer warehouses, like CompUSA. When Apple created the Apple Store, the experience of buying an Apple suddenly became cool for consumers. Similar to a luxury shopping venue, Apple's stores offer a rewarding and satisfying experience. Consumers are encouraged to browse, ask questions and interact with products.

A ground-up philosophy.
Apple's approach of restructuring the shopping experience first and then launching innovative commercials to promote the brand, solidified the brand's success. If Microsoft is to positively redefine the company's image, why don't they change the customer's shopping experience first instead of latter? Yes, spending lots of money to promote a brand will increase awareness, but will it close the sale?


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Email Different

"If you have a good relationship with your customer,
the business process flows that much more smoothly."
-Richard Pratt

Do consumers really open an email when it comes from NOREPLY@XYZcorp.com?

Are they excited to share the email with friends?

Or do they simply click, delete and not even read it?

Reverse Traditional Thinking
What if companies reversed the strategy and encouraged consumers to respond to email blasts? Try sending an email from a personal account (mary@xyzcorp.com) in your next email marketing campaign, instead of sending an email from a generic account (noreply@XYZcorp.com).

Yes, it will require hard work to read and respond to incoming emails, but consumers will become engaged in your brand. The dialogue between the consumer and your company will open. Creating valuable interaction and increasing brand equity, instead of diluting it with SPAM.

Benefits
Mass email marketing typically receives a 1-3% response rate. Tailoring emails specifically to the interests of a consumer will increase the response rate and easily identify a brand's primary target audience with individuals who respond.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Innovators


“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” -Steve Jobs








Curiosity




Yesterday, The Dow sank 504 points.

Political advertisements scrutinize personal differences.

In uncertain times, it's common to concentrate on problems and neglect the big picture. If we rediscover our curious nature, we can discover new opportunities and business models for the future. Yes, it requires us to break out of our shell and take risks, but curiosity can lead us to hope.

When times are good, we are comfortable with proven models and formulas for success. When times are unstable, how do we react? Do we concentrate on the problem? Or do we become curious and explore new opportunities for the future?


Monday, September 15, 2008

Are you staying balanced?

“You must be able to walk firmly on the ground
before you start walking of a tightrope.”
-Henri Matisse

It's difficult to balance the social media tightrope. Frequently brands rush to launch their campaigns and don't wait to understand the nuances of the networks. You can't use the same marketing strategy on each network and expect to see the same results. Each campaign has to be tailored to the appropriate audience. Too much interaction or lack of knowledge will cause your brand to fall of the tightrope.

Listen. Listen. Listen. ....Listening provides a foundation to learn the nuisances and how to appropriately engage your target audience. It's okay to spend time listening, observing and learning, before you rush to position your brand. GM didn't listen and quickly fell off the tightrope.

Keep your sights on the horizon, so the tightrope doesn't sway. Listening to the community allows the horizon to stay clear and keeps your brand balanced on the rope for the long-term.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Value of Exposure

Myspace marketing is passe. You can accumulate over a million friends, but what's the point if you only have one interaction with the user? A user may view your profile once when they accept your friend invitation, but what encourages them to revisit your profile? You can try posting a message in the bulletin, but this is often lost in the clutter of the site's organization.

Twitter and Facebook continue to be valuable marketing entities for companies, brands and individuals. The sites naturally encourage repetitive exposure, because of simple organization and navigation. According to Zanjonc's Mere Exposure Theory (1968) the more a person is exposed to something, the more that item, person or profile becomes likable. ...And likability translates to profitability, just ask Apple.

Natural Exposure
You log in into Facebook and the "mini feed" automatically informs you of updated profiles. Each new photo album, status or profile update is streamed across your homepage. You are naturally encouraged to visit the updated account and interact with the user. The relationship -either to your brand, company or persona is enhanced through frequent exposure to your profile page.

Similarly Twitter allows users to have regular interaction with their followers. Instead of visiting a profile page once, twitters regularly interact with each status update. Post a witty response along with a link and your followers are encouraged to click the link and visit the promoted site.

Think Beyond Clicks and Hits
It's tempting to accumulate as many hits as possible. We live in a results driven society and clicks are a measurable way to track success. But remember you are creating a long term entity, not a short term banner ad.

Regularly posting links in Twitter or your Facebook status can be viewed as SPAM by your followers. Think of social media as a way to enhance your brand's image and create brand evangelists through the quality of the content you post.

For example, Dooce aka Heather Armstrong, one of Forbes' most influential internet celebrities, uses Twitter to post witty updates about her life. She never posts a link in her status, nonetheless she has accumulated over 15 thousand followers and is the 29th most popular user on Twitter. Dooce relies on humorous twitter updates that reflect her blog's entries. She uses social media to enhance her entity, increase her exposure and build followers that are naturally encouraged to visit her blog.

Overexposure is Dangerous
Remember the boy who cried wolf? What happened on the third time?

If you tweet too regularly or update your Facebook profile too frequently, users become overexposed and burn out. Remember you are not the only brand or persona in the community and constantly posting new content can overwhelm users and cause them to be numb when you have something important to share.

Focus on selectively rolling out your content. Keep your followers on their toes. Share a slice of your brand. Keep them wanting more. For example, Postsecret, a popular community art blog, posts new entries once a week. Instead of multiple daily posts, visitors look forward to Sunday and seeing the new content.

The Value of Exposure
Understanding Zanjonc's Mere Exposure Theory and how to successfully leverage social media will enhance your brand's identity to create substantial awareness for your product or service.
Remember you are you are trying to build long term interest through the quality of your relationships, not the quantity.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sex, drugs and rockin' toilets?



“Creativity is an advertising agency's most valuable asset,
because it is the rarest.”
-Jeff Richards


If your interactive campaign does not generate buzz, you can flush the campaign's viral growth down the toilet. You don't have to sell trendy products to create interest in a video. From toilet manufacturers to insurance companies, traditional corporations are successfully leveraging Youtube to promote products and services.

CWS' "Say No To Dirt" commercial illustrates how ordinary companies can creatively encourage consumers to talk about a brand. The goal of CWS' Youtube movie is to convey a fresher image and connect with younger buyers. Since its launch, the movie has accumulated over a million hits and received praise in the marketing world.

Yes, the content may be offensive to some people, but pushing the envelope is sometimes a good thing. If you walk the line, no one will remember your brand from XYZ brand. I never talked about a toilet company before, until I saw this commercial.

If you want your next movie to attract the same viral growth, think creatively and like a venture capitalist. When venture capitalists fund projects, they typically finance 20 projects and hope one hits a home run. Don't expect your first movie to accumulate 1 million hits. You'll need to creatively brainstorm several ideas, with the goal of hitting one grand slam. If you don't swing for the fences, your marketing potential will flush down the toilet.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pseudo-Events

The holidays are approaching? ...Time for a family photo.

A new movie is debuting? ...Time for a glamorous premier.

The pit bull wears lipstick? ...Time to sound off.

The topics and events we discuss are frequently fueled by pseudo-events. According to Boorstin, a "pseudo-event is an event or activity that exists for the sole purpose of garnering media publicity and serves little to no other function in real life." The illusion of importance and the media's selected hype create rapid marketing potential for pseudo-events. These events virally spread across social media, including blog posts, forum discussions, twitter conversations and email blasts.

Marketers often create pseudo-events to generate headlines for their brand, product or persona.

Would Sarah Palin receive the same publicity without the lipstick covered hype? In the first quarter, would your neighborhood flower store sell the same quantity without Valentine's Day?

Our daily decisions to listen and consume are accelerated by these events. If enough people discuss something, it must be important right? As marketers position brands, be aware of the pseudo-events that influence your decisions. Is that "limited time offer" or "exclusive event," really that important and essential?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Business of Zen

“When you seek it, you cannot find it.” -Zen Proverb

Why is Facebook more popular than Myspace?

Why are Iphone rapidly sales increasing each quarter?

Marketers often focus on creating marketing campaigns to promote the product, but innovative companies focus on creating products that become the marketing.

For example, Facebook's simple user interface encourages users to virally promote the website. Unlike competitors, Facebook does not overwhelm the user with an abundance of advertisements or use a complex navigation system. Users have an enjoyable experience and promote the company via word-of-mouth. Additionally, the Iphone's aesthetic design encourages campaigns to be tailored around the product's functionality and user lifestyle.

Frequently, superfluous bells and whistles distract a user's experience and do not enhance a product's popularity. If your consumers can't comprehend a product in 30 seconds, what's going to encourage them to spread the word? Using simple design and a clean interface allow the experience to become the promotion. The user's experience is the marketing. Your product is found, because you did not seek the consumer; the consumer found you. The product's zen prevails.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2008 Boost Mobile


(Event Venue (C) Tiner)

The 2008 ASP Boost Mobile Pro is creating waves this week at Trestles, CA. The contest features the top 44 surfers in the world, including Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and Taj Burrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Inbound Marketing Summit






“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's exciting when words come to life and contacts are created from interactions we share online. Yesterday, I attended the Inbound Marketing Summit in Cambridge, MA. It was a rewarding opportunity to learn from industry leaders, including Greg Verdino, Chris Brogan, Seth Godin and David Meerman Scott.

Each lecturer shared their insights on Web 2.o and how companies can successfully leverage current technology to improve business. An overlapping topic was the fusion of real world and online interactions.

For example, Verdino shared how companies are no longer limited to the physical realm of the traditional office. He highlighted how forward thinkers can utilize virtual worlds, such as Second Life, to create conference rooms for clients and employees.

Additionally, Peter Corbetter highlighted how Geico's Iheartcaveman campaign virally spread from real world interactions with the caveman. Following the caveman's appearance at a launch party, attendees posted user-generated pictures and video across various social networks that stimulated viral buzz for the campaign.

In fact, my own experience at the Inbound Marketing Summit was created from an online interaction. I read about Verdino's contest on his blog, entered and won a ticket to the event ...which created an online/real/online interaction.

As smart phones become mainstream and interactions on social networks overlap, the future of Web 2.0 is to continually blend the real world with the virtual world. The Web 3.0 prize will be won by individuals fueled by ambition and hard work that create aggregate social media platforms "to win it."

It's no longer a question of "if," it's only a question of when ....and "the first one there OWNS the game" -Chris Brogan

Friday, September 5, 2008

¡Increíble!

Smith? ...Common.

Adams? ...Ordinary.

Johnson? ...Average.

Ocho Cinco? ¡Increíble!

Recently, Chad Johnson, a
standout NFL wide receiver, legally changed his surname to Ocho Cinco. Yes, Bengals' fans will cheer, "Ocho Cinco," this football season. It's an outrageous PR stunt, that's generating millions of free media for the five-time Pro Bowler.

Like ordinary marketing, ordinary surnames don't enhance your brand. It's difficult to establish your personal brand, when millions share your last name. Ocho Cinco's charisma and antics are now epitomized with his brand's repositioning. He inventively separated himself from other standout receivers and will enjoy free PR for thinking differently.

Will we see an increase in Ocho Cinco's jersey sales and more endorsement deals
en el futuro? Probablemente.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Opportunity for ALL

“Each handicap is like a hurdle in a steeplechase, and when you ride up to it, if you throw your heart over, the horse will go along, too.” -Lawrence Bixby

Today, I attended the Virtual Worlds Expo at The Los Angeles Convention Center. During the keynote lecture, Colin Parris, Vice President of IBM's Digital Convergence, shared how virtual workplaces allow workers to globally connect and overcome certain handicaps. For example, autistic individuals can learn from social interactions or distraught veterans can gradually transition into the real world through online interactions. The virtual workplace provides an environment for all to equally connect, no matter the race, gender or handicap. We are measured by our productivity and contribution, not our limitations.

As virtual worlds become more mainstream, it's important to realize that our interactions may provide the lift for people to jump over their hurdles and encourage "the horse to go along, too."

A special thanks to Greg Verdino for the complimentary ticket.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Expand your creativity

Can I have a number 1 with cheese?
Whatever happened to ordering a cheeseburger, fries and coke?

We live in a conveniently packaged world. One that frequently replaces original thinking with convenient systems and comfortable models. Similar to the fast food industry's ordering system, we have packaged templates for web design, power point presentations, business documents and blogs. Our creative fire is often doused by speed and convenience, instead of fueled by originality and outside-the-template thinking.

Why settle for a traditional format for the next presentation? Is it to play it safe with the status quo? Why not highlight your ingenuity? Slideshare.net illustrates creative presentations that evolve the traditional slide show. The website is full of resourceful presentations that will help expand your imagination and trigger creative thought.

Below is a favorite:




Same expectations?

Is the thrill of winning greater as the underdog or favorite?

Last night, unranked UCLA defeated #18 Tennessee 27-24 in Rick Neuheisel's first game has headcoach. Keven Craft, an untested UCLA quarterback, craftily guided a second half comeback that culminated with an overtime victory. The Rose Bowl erupted with joy and sports columnists around the nation praised the victory. Yes, the game was incredible and a proud accomplishment for UCLA, especially as Coach Neuheisel is rebuilding the program.

But do we praise all victories the same?

For years USC, the Bruin's crosstown rival, walks into the game and is presumably the favorite to win. Under Pete Carroll, the team is 76-14 (over an 80% winning percentage). Typically, the Trojans deliver a victory and their accomplishments are also hailed. But do we cheer louder for the underdog?

A victory is a victory. However, it seems that when one team surpasses its expectations, the cheer always resonates a little louder with the media. The victory is discussed longer and the game's highlights are played more frequently. ...Remember Appalachian State's victory over Michigan last year? Or dare I say, Stanford's victory over USC?

Do we react the same in the workplace? If an employer's expectations are too high or becomes accustomed to perfection, does he or she not react well enough when an employee delivers? Do we overreact when an employee exceeds our expectations? Give credit where credit is do, but be careful of overreacting and don't neglect to recognize all individuals when they deliver results ...no matter the expectations.

Monday, September 1, 2008

September Desktop


(Rancho Palos Verdes (C) Tiner)

"I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars." -Og Mandino

This month enjoy the beauty of Rancho Palos Verdes and its famous lighthouse.

As America is weathering Hurricane Gustav, I hope tranquility will quickly illuminate the affected region and remove disaster's darkness.


Industry Evolution

Long before the convenience of movies-on-demand or dvds-by-mail, Blockbuster appeared prominently on street corners. The experience of renting a movie was similar to visiting today's neighbor Starbucks. As new technology and renting formats entered the marketplace, the number of Blockbusters waned and the company's focus shifted towards online renting.

As new technology enter marketplaces, the lifespan for current business models and products is typically short lived. For example, the Iphone 3G's affordability and diverse functionality causes the Ipod's demand to be minimal. Similarly, an increase in bandwidth and change in consumer preference is shifting the movie rental experience towards legally downloading films. Netflix, The Itunes Store and Blockbuster allow consumers to download selected movies from their site. Although the initial selection is small and playback is limited to cooperative electronic devices, the innovative concept is transforming the film industry.

As rivals in any industry implement similar business models, creative marketing concepts will help distinguish competitors. The ability to create needs and effectively convey them in an integrated campaign will ultimately separate the industry winner from the herd.