The rise of Yiftee and Social Gifting: A nifty new way to give a lot more than thanks

December 18, 2012 12 comments

This holiday season your attention could be set on the newest category of the social media storm: Social Gifting where you can give real presents to your friends near and far. Social Gifting is defined by Social Maximizer as a platform through which people can give other people gifts through social networks. These gifts can come in the form of gift cards, or for goods directly.

Now many can wonder what is the difference between the social discounters like Groupon and social gifting? The social gift is a set price determined by the merchant of the product that is constant. They do not need to risk placing their products or services at a huge discount and potentially losing profits.

This new form of gifting has gotten a lot of media attention lately by the launch of Facebook Gifts. This service is mailed gifts that you can send to a friend. However, there are no local stores associated with the program and the gifts are not instantaneous because most gifts need to be shipped. Many of these gifts can be quite expensive like for example there are 6 cupcakes for $38 without including shipping and handling.

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Yiftee is a bright young company that began out of the daily deal craze in 2011 and is a star in the new social gifting category. They are allowing local shops to have an online presence against big retailers effortlessly and with no technology investments.

Yiftee = Gift + Nifty + Yipee

In their own words: a Yiftee gift is a real gift, often $20 or less, sent by smart phone or the web to say Thanks, Happy Birthday or Just Because. Yiftee gifts are the new way to acknowledge life’s special moments, in two minutes or less. Giftees receive them on Facebook, email or text and stop by a local merchant to pick them up.

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I had a conversation with Aldo Briano, one of the co-founders of this company, to ask him more about how they are carving out a space in the virtual world and how Yiftee came to be. The creators of Yiftee were appalled by the way local businesses were accepting very low margins to promote themselves in the group buying websites. They had many discussions with local mom and pop shops and determined that many small businesses did not know what they were doing and were just struggling to stay alive. As Aldo stated, “They have limited time, tight budget, aren’t tech savvy, inundated with marketing ploys, and swamped just making ends meet. These small business owners want to grow but finally realized that Deals of the Day don’t work. We set out to create a product that would bring foot traffic to local merchants with no discounting, bringing them new customers and helping them thrive.”

Yiftee has allowed merchants to promote their companies and products online effortlessly. The main advantages for merchants to use Yiftee over other services are:
1. Sells a product at a price they choose – No discounting required.
2. Brings foot traffic into the store
3. Free social and mobile sales channel that offers plenty of visibility
4. No Cost, No Commitment
Other benefits for merchants include that anyone can apply to be featured on Yiftee and there is no need to invest in new technology. They also have featured Merchants which appear first when consumers search for a gift and have videos featured on the website.

Their success and support from the community so far has allowed Yiftee to grow from their local area of Menlo Park to recently launching a nationwide site where you can build your own gift in many local stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

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I asked Aldo how does the app that promotes others promote itself? Yiftee’s best marketing tool so far has been through providing the best customer experience and relying on the promotions from the local communities. Yiftee has a program called Yiftee Connectors where they create groups of social influencers that will market Yiftee within their particular group through local forums, blogs, Next Door, etc. They also rely on the social nature of Facebook and how friends see each other using the app through this site. Their paid advertising efforts through programs like Google Adwords were not a successful venture for the company. They will keep using word-of-mouth strategies to fortify the brand.

What is the ideal future for Yiftee in Aldo Briano’s world? A local gifting craze and international expansion :).

To learn more about Yiftee I invite you to visit their website, and most of all download it and try it yourself! It is a free app and you can build your own gift and set your own budget or choose from the many gifts merchants have provided which are usually under $20.

So for this holiday season think about how much hassle it is to spend hours in stores or online looking for gifts and the extra cost of shipping. Become inspired by daring to go into the gifting future and Yiftee a nifty gift today! Yipee!

Check out the website: www.yiftee.com

Download the App

See the Featured Merchant Video

The Art of Listening to Customers 365 days!

December 18, 2012 Leave a comment

The nation is still trying to make sense of why evilness reached Sandy Hook Elementary School and took the lives of many innocent souls and those adults that cared for them. Tragedies like these affect everybody and it becomes a big part of society. What is the appropriate approach for companies during this time?  A great example here is Jet Blue. According to Mashable, Jet Blue made sure that a letter written by Noah’s cousin reached Connecticut in time for Noah’s funeral. Noah’s mother had asked all the family members to write later that would be buried with Noah.

The reason I bring this up is not for companies to suddenly start doing something to show their sympathy. Actually, I have a problem with a lot of companies trying to get behind a cause that doesn’t align with their mission or those who try too hard to create a great PR image. However, Jet Blue has keep an on-going conversation with customers on social media sites and therefore can justify doing such gesture. Hence, here are several reasons why I bring this up:

1. Companies should always lend their ear to their customers (especially since the digital era has allowed customers to be more available and willing to engage with companies). Do you really like those friends who talk your ear out but they don’t listen to anything you have to say?

2. What affects society affects companies too (at this point  customers are heartbroken due to this tragedy). Being proactive is the best way to keep consistent with any company’s brand.

3. Companies shouldn’t do anything if all they want is free publicity. This is why customers have grown to distrust companies.

As a company, you have to be you and be real. Listening is a great skill that brings about unplanned publicity. It also shows you what customers really NEED and not what you think they NEED. I hope that as we move forward in the future, that companies will riley for causes and events that they really believe in, while truly catering to their customers. It is my hope that one day companies will be heroes and not villains. I also hope to be part of that change, STAY TUNED!

 

 

A peace message from Puerto Rico

December 17, 2012 1 comment

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Social media is a known to be a powerful marketing tool and therefore in Puerto Rico its users are using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to promote the message of peace.

This small island in the Caribbean has been facing a huge wave crime in the past few years with over 1,000 people being murdered in 2011 alone. Recently a publicist called José Enrique Gómez was carjacked by 4 suspects with no guns, taken to an ATM machine to withdraw $400 and then set on fire. This violent murder has been the final straw for the citizens of this island who are tired of living with nothing but crimes reported on the news.

People have taken to social media to pour the messages of peace and to promote the end of the violence in the country. Several Facebook groups popped up overnight reaching over 50,000 supporters in 24 hours. They all have been promoting the message of “Todos somos Jorge Steven” (“We are all Jorge Steven”) and “Los Buenos Somos Mas” (“The Good Guys are More”). The hashtags associated with this peace message: #todossomosjorgeenrique, #unabrazoparapuertorico, #losbuenossomosmas and #bastaya are still being used weeks after the movement started. This is a good sign because in the social media world movements rise and fall with a lifespan of a few days at most. This message of peace has also been kept strong by increasing support from local celebrities like Ricky Martin and by the news spreading globally and supporters joining from other countries.

This social media movement has also moved the message from the social media outlets to major news outlets not only in Puerto Rico but around the world. It has also inspired the citizens to voice their message from the virtual world to the real world by organizing vigils for victims, peaceful marches and conversations in daily life.

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The impact of this virtual conversation has taken one step further. The mother of one of the suspects saw her son’s picture on Facebook in a movement to find the perpetrators and made him turn himself in to the police.

This movement has been causing some powerful impacts to the social health of a wounded country. There is hope in how the conversations are being kept alive and that people are not forgetting to keep interest in spreading the message. Hopefully 2013 will be the first time in over a decade where Puerto Ricans will see a year in decreasing murder rates and less violence in their daily lives.

Marketing to the Next Generation: A mystery solved

December 17, 2012 2 comments

Marketers have a tough job now a day. Standing out and breaking through all the clutter of messages can be hard when according to the article ”Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists” the average American is exposed to over 3,000 commercial messages every day. Adding to the difficulty is that every day now we have more outlets than ever before to deliver those messages. The decision of what to say, to who, where and finding the correct combination of these three elements has become exponentially challenging.

Thankfully the marketing geniuses at Lit Motors have solved this problem for all marketers. Apparently we have been wasting our time coming up with unique messages because the young consumer has only time and interest for one thing: their smartphones. So of course it makes perfect sense for Lit Motors’ highly innovative two person motorcycle been marketed as “Your rolling Smart Phone”.

Lit Motors

It makes perfect sense to compare your motorcycle to your smart phone because I ride my iPhone to school every day. It is not like a smartphone is a common object you see everywhere. How did older generations move from point A to point B without a phone to take them there? The smartphone is the most innovative and coolest product ever created period and everything I want to own better be somehow a derivation of it. Never mind discussing the features of this new product or try to convince me on how it is different from everything else out there. I want to know if I can upload a picture of my plate of spaghetti I had from lunch on Instagram from this vehicle.
Now thanks to Lit Motors, as a marketer I am more prepared to create the best campaign ever created targeted at the young and hip consumer. All I have to do is compare whatever I am selling to a smartphone and the kids will follow. Genius! The mystery to marketing to Generation Y is solved and I am better marketer thanks to it. If you want to be inspired by the brilliant marketing tactics of this company I invite you to visit at http://litmotors.com/c-1/.

Happy smartphoning!

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“Here’s why I like Social Media… Because it sells S&^T!”

December 15, 2012 Leave a comment

This is a video of Gary Vaynerchuk’s keynote speech at the Inc 500 2011 seminar. For those of you that don’t know Gary, he is a great presenter and has become an expert in the field of social media. He has written a few books that are must reads for anyone trying to understand social media and how it can be an asset to any business. The first time I saw him speak in person was in 2009 at the Barnes and Nobles in Kenmore square when he was there for a book signing of his recently released book “Crush It”. It was an intimate setting with only 20 or 30 people in the audience. Since that day I have read “Crush It” and “The Thank You Economy”. The reason he wrote the book and what got me hooked is his passion for building brand equity and creating content that is now available for the masses to see.

In the keynote video above Gary does a great job of explaining the the evolution of culture shifts and how we have transitioned from a culture of Push marketing to Pull. I think this video is a great way to sum up our ecomm class from this semester and the benefits of embracing the shifts in marketing.

The video is long but it has tremendous value and is entertaining. There is quite a bit of explicit language but his passion comes through and I believe everyone watching will learn something new.

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Technology that is Changing the Game

December 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Back in June I came across an article on http://www.springwise.com titled, “App enables sports fans to upgrade their tickets in-game”. The app and company is known as Pogoseat. I am an avid sports fan and have been fortunate enough throughout my 31 years to attend hundreds of live sporting events all over the country in many different venues. The in-game experience can be quite different depending on the sport or venue. An example here in Boston is for the most part at the most beloved ballpark in baseball Fenway Park. Most of the stadium is accessible no matter what ticket you have (a few exceptions being the monster seats, and bleachers). Throughout the game if you can identify empty seats chances are you can attempt to sit there. If unlucky, the actual ticket owner may show up and your journey to find another seat begins again. In other parts of the country for instance New York, if you don’t have tickets for that section you will be turned away regardless if the section is half empty. Pogoseat eliminates the guessing game of which seats are still available and allows you to legitimately upgrade your seat for a price. After reading the article I decided to investigate Pogoseat’s website and some questions came to mind. I wanted to know what venues and teams were participating? What happens if the ticket was sold but the original owner is late to the event? Are the available seats just those that were not sold at the box office? Most importantly how is price determined for the upgraded seats (is it based on time elapsed or the game situation)? Unsure of these answers I emailed the company’s support email on June 29, 2012. I was pleasantly surprised 4 days later with a response from one of the co-founders Abel Cuskelly. He answered my questions, so I thought I would share them with all of you:

“Hi Jonathan,

That makes us happy to hear! We are currently in beta testing and not officially live to the general public yet anywhere although we will be very soon.

Pogoseat supply is sourced only from the team’s unsold seat inventory and the team’s season ticket holders that can’t make the game who turn over their seats in to us day of the game to sell for them on the pogoseat seat upgrade platform. So there’s no worries of a double seat booking happening.

On average, 26% of sports event seats go unsold- this includes what the team didn’t sell and also other seats such as the ones their primary distributor was not able to sell for them. These get uploaded into our system which reflects the available seats for fans to upgrade to on our app. We have integrated with some ticketing companies already to automate this process.

Price is determined by a host of factors including- Currently primarily just the original seat location, time left in game and any promotional discount the team wants to apply. We are working on adding game (score/opponent/players), weather and some other factors into the algorithm.

Are you a big sports or concert fan Jonathan? Visit our homepage pogoseat.com and leave us your email & zip so we can let you know when we launch live officially in your city.”

Taking all of this into perspective, I applaud Abel and Pogoseat for creating a solution to maximize the fan experience at live sporting events or concerts. The fact that they have identified a way for mobile based technology to enhance the consumer experience is great to see. It is also nice to see that the co-founder of the company was willing to take time and answer questions from a random fan. If Pogoseat continues to develop systems to identify consumers wants and desires and integrate a solution through the use of new technology to solve them than I think they will be very successful. They have created a unique way for both consumers and teams/venues to take advantage of a supply/demand based market.

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Optify Identifies Key Trends for Digital Marketing Industry in 2013

December 15, 2012 Leave a comment

http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/optify-identifies-key-trends-for-digital-marketing-industry-in-2013-1736165.htm

Hey! Here are 13 things marketwire thinks are going to be trends in the upcoming year. Now I’m going to tell you what I think about them. Refer to the actual article if you want more information. Also, sometimes comedy doesn’t translate…especially when it’s not funny.

1. Optify seems convinced that the world will not end. Since I’m still recovering from the Y2K scare I chose not to look into the validity of this argument. But here’s hoping.

2. They think the number of agencies will double in the next 3-5 years. Yay for more jobs, boo for the two-fold increase of dumb ads.

3. Consolidation of reporting and tracking tools. Integration and consolidation usually means easier, except when you are folding a tent.

4. Cross-channel campaigns will deliver cheaper and better results. I’m just hoping we all remember how the Geico cavemen sitcom went and we don’t develop a YouTube series based on Flo (Progressive Ins.)

5. Stronger connection between offline and online events. I think they should be making offline events more exclusive, the more integrated they get the less incentive you have to be there. The Steve Jobs hologram I’m sure we’ll see next year should definitely be experienced in person.

6. Paid Search for B2B companies will continue to show decline as new, better ad platforms emerge. I agree, although if BSB (Backstreet Boys) gets back together we could see these stats swing.

7. Google will start charging for its data and access to its analytics. Which means its search services are probably next, right? Those encyclopedias were a good investment, right? Guys?

8. Google will continue to dominate the B2B Search Market. But seriously, keep an eye out for Nick Carter.

9. Journalists and bloggers will be defined by content and reach, not titles. Great, now we have less incentive to put on pants in the morning. (I’m wearing pants right now…I swear)

10. Marketing budgets will match IT budgets. Most common phrase uttered by marketers in 2013, “I never searched for big booty hoes, I don’t know how that got onto my computer.”

11. Sales responsibilities will move to marketing departments. Screenings of Glengarry Glen Ross get added to marketing conventions across the nation. David Mamet cries as his words are misquoted in front of water coolers everywhere. 

I hope at least one person laughs at the above joke.

12. E-mail marketing will continue to grow. Let’s just hope Nadia from Russia who has a cousin that needs my help…and money doesn’t learn how to attach photos.

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