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Last blog? Maybe…

I’m not going to lie. When I first started this blog, I kind of dreaded it. I thought, “How am I going to think of something different to write about each week that relates to the IMC program, especially emerging media?” I really never had to try though. Each time I sat down to start thinking of an idea it would just come to me. I was able to write the posts easily without struggling to make thoughts connect to one another.

Then came this week. My last required post. Week 9. And my thoughtful brain failed me. Actually, I just blame it on senioritis. Is it possible to have senioritis for the third time – high school, undergrad and now? My senioritis isn’t controversial like some in high school get. I still complete my assignments, I just don’t want to do them. Apparently, senioritis is a real thing since USA Today wrote about it.

 

Starting next Monday, I will start my final class of the IMC program. (Where have the past 2 years gone?!) I’m excited to be finished, but I’m also nervous. Now I have to *finally* step into the real world. I’ve been applying for jobs like crazy, with no luck. I’ll find something, right? Anyway, even though this is my last required blog post, I hope to continue with it occasionally. I will probably have some assignments in my final class that will benefit from blogging. Even though I wasn’t excited about the idea nine weeks ago, I’m glad I actively participated in this blog . I believe that it helped me learn about an important media technology that is important in the marketing field.

 

 

Sometimes I wonder how social media marketing can get more interactive. Just when I think this field can’t get any better, I find out about something new. QR Codes. Now, I know that this technique has been used for a few years, but I just started seeing it.  I started seeing these barcodes a few months ago in magazines and in stores. The other day, I saw one in a video announcing tour dates for Josh Groban.

And today West Virginia University issued a press release announcing a commercial they will be playing during the men’s and women’s Big East basketball championship tournament. On the website there is a QR code to scan that takes smart phone users to a mobile website that allows fans to send encouraging words to the team and feature Mountaineer Pulse – an image of the Flying WV covering the screen that flashes when touched.

Tournaments QR — Mountaineers! Use your smartphone to see what the Mountaineers are doing in the Big East Tournament. Leave the teams words of support and get yourself a special treat in the process. Just search “QR Scanner” in your smartphones’ app store.

QR barcodes work the same as UPC barcodes, but the QR barcodes are able to fit a larger amount of information in a smaller space. Regular barcodes use vertical lines side by side. QR codes display data both vertically and horizontally in blocks. They look like a bunch of pixels in a square. To see the data entered on the code, consumers scan the barcode with their phone’s camera and a barcode scanner application reads it. Most of the time, the code takes you to a site with more information about the product you scanned. I scanned the code in the Josh Groban video today and it took me to his mobile tour date site with more information about on-sale dates.

According to Aisle Buyer Blog, marketers have been using the codes in creative ways. A Boston restaurant has started putting the codes on dishes, which allows patrons to scan the code to learn more about their food, see the ingredients and discover new recipes. A Nashville hospital puts QR codes on all of its ads, which takes users to a webpage displaying ER waiting times. A dog breeder added a QR code to the top of her dog’s crate allowing dog show attendees to link to the dog’s website. There is even a website that only shows their comics through QR code. Someone even made a scan able waffle.  (Although, my phone wasn’t able to recognize the waffle’s code.)

Although it would only reach a select group of consumers because you must have a smart phone to scan the code, I think QR codes are a great way to build buzz about a product or event. The codes are really catching on fast. I mentioned them in one of my IMC courses and my professor mentioned that her realtor has just started incorporating the codes to help sell homes. Also, a classmate of mine works for a small university and she stated that the admissions office has been placing the codes on recruitment materials. I think placing the codes on recruitment material is a great idea, especially for schools focusing in marketing, technology or journalism. I’m sure there are a multitude of other ways QR codes are and will be used. I’m really excited to see how these codes will be used and how effective they will be with consumers. Download a scanner and find some codes!

 

I know a majority of us tweet, but wouldn’t it be nice if we got paid to tweet? Welcome to the fabulous life of a celebrity. They already have more money than they know what to do with, receive free items and now marketers are paying up to $10,000 and sometimes $25,000 for a single tweet. I’d be quite happy making $10,000, heck $5,000 for a single tweet! A few celebrities that I follow have posted advertising tweets, but they were clearly labeled as an advertisement. Sometimes other sponsored tweets are not as easily noticeable. One of the most well known paid celeb tweeters is Kim Kardashian.

Kim is reported to receive $10,000 for every advertisement tweet, which reaches her 6.4 million followers. Paying celebrities like Kim is a great idea for marketers. They reach millions of users in a matter of seconds. Kim’s most talked about paid tweet was for Armani Jeans. Kim simply tweeted, “These Armani jeans are so cute!” In less than 24 hours, the tweet drove 40,000 users to the Armani website. Kim reportedly received $25,000 for the tweet. In this case, the partnership with Kim and Armani was not clearly identified. In her other advertisement tweets, Kim acknowledges if they are ads. Her involvement with the ads comes from her partnership with Ad.ly. According to Ad.ly co-founder Derek Rey, Kim is publisher for the company and they pay her for her involvement with Ad.ly/Twitter advertising campaigns. See her first Ad.ly tweet below.

In other cases, Kim has been accused of endorsing a product without declaring if she received payment. One such case involved Carl’s Jr. Carl’s Jr. did have Kim appear in their commercials, so people assumed that Carl’s paid her to tweet about their salad that she apparently loves. After some accusations, Kim cleared the air on her blog stating that although she was paid to appear in their commercials, Carl’s Jr. did not pay her to mention any of their products on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or her blog.

So what do you think? Do you care if celebrities tweet advertisements? I don’t mind as long as they are clearly identified as an ad and they do not become a common occurrence. I don’t mind seeing them every now and then, but I don’t want my timeline to become full of them.

I watched the much anticipated, new Britney Spears music video this morning. “Hold It Against Me” is the first single from her upcoming album, “Femme Fatale” which will release on March 29. After watching it, I was excited that Britney is back, but I noticed a lot of product placement throughout the video. Britney’s own fragrance Radiance, Makeup Forever, Sony and online dating site PlentyOfFish.com all made an appearance. I wondered if these companies asked the video’s director to include these products or if the director decided to himself. Check out the video below.

I also wondered if other music videos have utilized product placement. A New York Times article discussed the issue and the author decided that record labels use product placement to make videos a revenue source, not just a marketing tool for selling CDs. The money is usually used to offset the cost of the video. According to a report released last July by PQ Media, the money spent on product placement in recorded music grew 8% in 2009 compared with the year before, while overall paid product placement declined 2.8% to $3.6 billion. PQ Media says that revenue from product placement in videos totaled $15 million to $20 million in 2009, which is more than double what it was in 2000. It’s no guess that the rise from 2000 is from the quick rise and popularity of internet video sharing sites like YouTube that allows consumers to watch the video anytime they want, as many times as they want. According to the NYT article, when videos were mainly played on MTV, any products had to be  blurred out or taken out of the video.

Another video that had a lot of product placement is Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”. Newser.com found out that some of the placements were paid while others weren’t. In her video Gaga used Wonder Bread (unpaid), Miracle Whip (paid), Diet Coke (unpaid), Virgin Mobile (sponsor of Gaga’s tour), Polaroid (acknowledged Gaga’s role as Polaroid’s creative director), Heartbeats headphones and Beats laptop (unpaid, extension of partnership w/Interscope Music and HP), PlentyofFish.com (unknown, apparently site has partnership w/Interscope). I think it’s interesting that Lady Gaga and Britney used PlentyOfFish.com.

I know music videos are already using product placement, but do you think that it will become a normal inclusion in videos?

Must read social media book!

I just wanted to give a quick review on a great book covering social media marketing that I recently finished reading. The book is The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani. The book is a wonderful read because of Kabani’s conversational tone and personal experience with the subject.

She provides great examples of how to utilize Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to their fullest for organizations and personally. She goes into great detail how each site works and the best ways to use them. In the book, Kabani states that she wanted to write The Zen of Social Media Marketing to help marketers understand how to utilize social media marketing practically and efficiently. In addition to describing the three social networks, Kabani first stresses the importance of having a complete effective and efficient website. She also discusses her ACT Methodology – Attract, Convert and Transform. It’s a great method and Kabani carries its importance into each of the social networks. I could go on and on about Kabani’s book (just turned in a 7 page review on Monday!) and the knowledge that she gives. The personal experiences make the book very enjoyable to read and many times, I felt like I was learning from a friend. I liked that I didn’t feel that I was being lectured to about the subject. Kabani contributes greatly to our knowledge of viral, buzz and word-of-mouth marketing because she has firsthand experience with how successful these marketing techniques are. She explains how each tool can be used on its own or in collaboration with one another along with an effective company website.

After reading her book, I can see why Kabani is so successful. She is already the president of her own company, The Marketing Zen Group, a full service digital marketing agency. Fast Company named her the “master millennial of the universe” and “an online marketing shaman”. In addition, she was also named one of the 10 Most Influential and Powerful Women in Social Media and in 2009 Business Week listed her as one of the Top 25 under 25 entrepreneurs in North America. She also hosts a popular web TV show that focuses on business and technology.  Kabani is a great person to follow on Twitter @Shama, be a friend on Facebook and a connection on LinkedIn. She follows back too! Check out Shama online and definitely, definitely read her book! It’s great for anyone interested in using social media marketing.

Job searching online

Quick post for today. Since I’m graduating in May I’ve been searching for a job. I look at the WVU job boards, LinkedIn, InDeed, etc., to see what I can find. While searching relentlessly, I got to wondering what in the world I would do with out the Internet. How would I find all of these listings? It’s so convenient having these huge databases of information at my fingertips. I can easily filter and search them to find exactly what I want. Although it can get really frustrating at times, I like that I can search for a job at my house on the computer.

I don’t know what I would be doing if I had to search through countless newspapers to find a job. I know that makes me sound spoiled, but I really have no clue how I would find a job without the wonders of the Internet. I guess there are always references from friends and family or old fashion going to a place you want to work at to see what they have open. Let me know how you found your job in my poll below.

YouTube Gaming

The other day I was browsing Google for information and news on one of my very favorite TV shows, Dexter . Dexter is on Showtime and follows Dexter Morgan, a blood splatter analysis in Miami that is also a serial killer that kills murderers. It’s great. The story lines are wonderful and each episode keeps you guessing. While reading up on the next season, I came across a really fun and interactive game that Showtime created. It’s called “Dexter Interactive Investigation”. In the game, you play Dexter as he tries to find a murderer in New York City. The interesting thing about the game is that it is played through YouTube. I’ve never come across anything like this before. To continue through the game you click various embedded links that take you to different videos depending on if you click correctly.

The game includes scenes from Dexter episodes and various gaming sequences. The game starts off by taking evidence at a crime scene. You check blood splatter, determine the killer’s blood type, height and dominate hand. You then select your suspect and head to his house. I don’t want to give everything about the game away, but you do have to make choices of whether to question someone, send them to the police or kill them, decipher an alarm and more.

After playing the game, I wondered if others have tried using YouTube to build buzz by playing games through YouTube. I found one website that had a very simple YouTube game where you save a car from crashing by clicking a link. Another website found that you can play snake while watching various YouTube videos.

But one of the games the most like Dexter Interactive Investigation is Chad, Matt & Rob Interactive. They play a short video and then give you two options. Their videos are entertaining and humorous. .

I think using YouTube to build buzz about a company or product can be a new and exciting form of marketing. I will be interested to see how many companies take part in this.

Live in a window for 7 days?!

Earlier today I came across Downy’s current campaign for their new claim to provide clean smelling sheets for one week. Instead of clean sheet day, Downy has reevaluated their products to provide clean sheet week. For their campaign, they placed comedian Mike Birbiglia in a Macy’s window in New York City for one week. Birbiglia will live and sleep (of course!) in the window.  The event started January 26 and today was the last day. Those walking by could wave, talk to Birbiglia and take pictures of him to post of Facebook. Birbiglia also took questions from Facebook comments and Twitter responses.

In addition to living in the window, Birbiglia had visitors to his window ‘apartment’. His brother, Downy representatives, friends and fellow comedians visited Birbiglia during his seven-day event. One day, Birbiglia even had two passer-bys eat dinner in his window apartment. All the couple did was simply ask if they could join Birbiglia for dinner. He prepared a ‘romantic’ meal with famous Chef Katie Lee.

Throughout the event, visitors to Downy’s Facebook page could enter to win prizes. They varied from Downy samples, t-shirts and Macy’s sheet sets. At different times, viewers could watch Birbiglia live through YouTube. Downy’s YouTube page provides highlights of Birbiglia’s adventure.

I really like this event for the campaign. It’s creative and engaging for numerous people. Those walking by are able to engage first hand with Birbiglia and those away from the action can take part through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. I also believe that the event was a great way to incorporate a variety of emerging media tools. Often times, companies will just rely on Facebook to create buzz about a new product or the company. I think for a emerging media campaign to be truly successful many tools need to be used and the event/campaign itself needs to be exciting. I mean, how can you resist watching or reading about a guy living in a Macy’s window for a week?

Downy and Macy’s created this idea after a National Sleep Foundation 2010 Bedroom Poll found that 7 out of 10 people claim to get a more comfortable night’s rest of sheets with a fresh scent and 8 out of 10 people was their sheets after purchasing them. I’m not going to lie; it does always feel really nice getting into a bed with clean, fresh smelling sheets. I might have to try out their new fabric softener for myself.

In class this week, we discussed web design. While doing some research I wondered if more companies are using online methods for product launches. I came across an article from Marketing and Social Media Direct at Mango Languages, Beverly Cornell that explained 10 strategies for a product launch.

Traditional Advertising. Cornell first pointed out that while new online media is a great way to spread information, traditional methods like television, print and radio are still needed for an effective product launch. I agree with Cornell. Just because there are faster way to spread messages, traditional media is still needed for those not involved in emerging media.

Search Engine Optimization. Cornell suggests creating a “home base”, which is a search-friendly website or blog. It is important to make sure the page is appropriately coded for search, complete with keyword-rich copy, title tags, header text, a unique URL and meta information that succinctly describes the new product.

E-mail Marketing. It is smart to provide people that you have relationships with, with exclusive pre-order options through e-mail. Another idea is to offer a sneak peak of the product before its public release. This tactic can help strengthen the relationship and build trust. Cornell also suggests setting up an e-mail drip campaign that sends messages on a regular schedule at timed intervals to keep the product/service in the minds of your customers. I feel that e-mail marketing is a great way to spread awareness about a new product to trusted relationships. For those that are Creators in the Social Technographics Profile , it is especially important to target them to help create buzz about the new product.

Online Advertising. Tools like Google AdWords help boost awareness and direct parties to your product. Online advertising allows you to get in front of a specific audience but with wide reach. It is smart to research the most popular blogs related to your product and advertise on them, as well.

Social Networks. This is probably the newest and most interactive way to help with a product launch. Companies can inform their current and future customers with updates from Facebook, Twitter and more networks. It is important to keep the information up-to-date and monitor any feedback. Although a product may be great, some consumers can have problems so it is important to monitor any feedback they may list on the company’s social networks.

Geolocation. I don’t have much experience with these options like Foursquare or Gowalla. I guess living in a smaller city doesn’t provide as many options for these platforms like large cities such as New York or DC. Cornell suggests these geolocation options to help close the gap between online marketing platforms and a physical store. She says you are encouraging sales through different channels and fully connecting the buying experience. Offering special offers to your most frequent and loyal customers can go a long way in creating buzz.

Group Buying Sites. Groupon, Living Social, Deal On, My Daily Thread are great websites to introduce and incentivize the purchase of a product in an opt-in audience. Cornell says these sites give you the ability to customize your product offer by market and expand the product’s reach beyond those who are already familiar with your company. Like the Geolocation, I don’t have much experience with group buying sites. However, after looking over Groupon’s website it seems like a great idea for companies and consumers. It provides companies with a great way to get their products in the hands of their customers. It provided the customers with great products at a discounted price. It’s win-win.

Blogger Outreach. Bloggers are a great way to create buzz about a product, especially popular and respected bloggers that get lots of traffic to their site. Cornell believe that blogger outreach goes hand-in-hand with traditional media outreach when it comes to generating interest for a new product, and the approach and methods are much the same. You must understand the blog, its audience and its content before pitching to them. I remember pitching to several bloggers during my internship in DC. I was successful on a few.

Social Media Influencers. The first step in using social media influencers is to research and locate the most active social media users in your target market. Cornell says these people are at a unique advantage, having earned a large and tuned-in set of viewers, listeners and followers. Tools like Twitter Grader and Klout can help a company determine which social media users are looked at the most. You can search by category using Twello to search by self-identified expertise, interests and professions. This can be a great way to identify users that relate to your product.

Online Retail Sites. Partnerships with well-respected online retail sites is a great way to improve the availability and credibility of your business and product. Placing ads on sites like Amazon, eBay, and Google Product Search will place your products in an environment searched by people that have already identified themselves as inclined to buy.

As part of the new product launch, Cornell is sure to suggest, that after the launch customer feedback is vital to monitor in order to see how successful the product and launch campaign was. Programs like Radian6, Awareness, Netvibes and HootSuite can help monitor customer responses.

The NBA and the NFL have taken steps to create marketing campaigns that focus on their Hispanic viewers. The NBA’s fully integrated Hispanic marketing campaign, éne bé a, is the organization’s initiative to grow the game of basketball throughout the expanding US Hispanic market. The campaign utilizes media, events, grassroots and merchandising programs. Part of éne bé a is Noche Latina (Latin Night). One of the most noticeable tactics for Noche Latina the NBA uses is Spanish jerseys. Various teams take part in the campaign by wearing the jerseys.

Senior Director of Hispanic Marketing, Saskia Sorrosa, for the NBA recognizes that Hispanics comprise of 15% of their fan base. Sorrosa says, “We have a responsibility to connect with them in meaningful ways. Noche Latina is an opportunity for us to thank the Hispanic community for their support and showcase how their pride and passion impact our teams and players.”

I think the special jerseys are a great way for the NBA to recognize their Hispanic viewers as well as their Hispanic players. Five US-born Latino players and 18 players from Spain and Latin America were on the 2009-2010 rosters.

The NFL is also taking notice to their Hispanic viewers. This year’s Super Bowl will take place in Arlington, Texas at Cowboy Stadium. An article by Media Post states that more and more NFL teams are courting the Latino market in effort to tap into an aggressive fan base ready to shell out dollars.

In 2005, the NFL played its first regular-season game outside of the US in Mexico City. The game drew over 100,000 people, which is impressive in a heavily dominated soccer or fútbol country. In the years since the Mexico City game, the NFL has tried to tap into the rapidly growing Hispanic market. This season saw one of the most aggressive positioning strategies by the organization as more than half of the teams celebrated Mexican Hispanic Heritage events at various stadiums. In celebration of the heritage month, ESPN Deportes launched Fanatico Latino, an integrated marketing campaign honoring the character and diversity of the Latino Sports Fans. Univision and the NFL also paired to launch NFL.com/Espanol site. In September, the NFL delivered two of the most watched season opening games among Hispanics that included the “Sunday Night Football” game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. The games were also broad casted in Spanish on ESPN Deportes.

This year’s Hispanic NFL viewership has skyrocketed, according to the Nielsen Company, up over 12% from last season. Ratings are up by 7% over the same time period. Super Bowl XLV offers a unique position by being located in Dallas. Although the overall US population grew just 9.7% over the last decade (slowest since the Great Depression), Texas grew more than twice as fast as the nation, thanks in part to Mexican Hispanics. Dallas has the 5th largest US Hispanic population of Mexican descent. Even though the climate in Dallas is a great place to host the Super Bowl, Dallas makes sense because it’s a great place to captivate the Mexican Hispanic market.

Lastly, the article makes a strong point about the importance of Hispanic viewership. According to Nielson, last year’s Super Bowl ranks as the most-watched American television program ever with an average audience of 106.5 million viewers. NFLHispanic.com states over 3 million more Hispanics on average watched last year’s Super Bowl XLIV than the World Cup Final.