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Yes we can COUNT, sort of…

March 31, 2010 Leave a comment

This will be a really short blog, I hope. Yesterday riding the T, I was struck by all the commercial billboards advocating the Census. Forgive me if somebody already mentioned this, but this looks like a job for …. wait for it…. a super Social Media marketer. C’mon Son, to borrow a line from Ed Lover, in the social age we can’t figure out a way for people to fill out this stuff and email it in? Aren’t there enough people, and we’re in the 10’s of millions by now, using online media from facebook to twitter., to warrant exploration of a field test mixing social media and record data like the census? I realize this argument sounds vaguely familiar to the one U.S. citiznes have every four years at election time, “Why can’t we email our vote?” or  “why can’t we do this on Saturday?” but NOW I am really serious.  The commercial’s mantra is “We can’t go forward, until you mail it back.” I admit, the slogan is very catchy. I have even seen a newer spin on “Yes We Can” ala the President’s campaign for the Census entitled “Yes We Count!” I like this spin also. I believe we could go one more step further. How about “Yes E-Can Count!” or “United E-Stand.” I know its not the greatest slogan, but you get the idea. Those of us emailers and mobile users UNITE. Imagine you could go online, fill out your census, and fewer trees are used. Sorry, mail carriers, there about to phase out Saturday anyway, so its one more piece of mail you won’t be delivering. But according to analysts, we’re not mailing them in either. How cool would a social media campaign around the Census be? I think very. Or how setting up e-kiosks in malls. During your Easter, if you commemorate, shopping you stop by the kiosk fill out the info, done.

Well those are my two cents. Before you ask, I snail mailed my Census in already. Did you? Do you wish you could’ve emailed it? Just asking. 😉

Social Media used for social good for Haiti

January 13, 2010 1 comment

As the nation of Haiti sift through yet another catastrophe – 7.0 major earthquake – my prayers for hope and recovery, first go out to the tiny yet resilient nation. This country has been through hurricanes and a devastating record poverty, which make the U.S.’s cries of near 10% unemployment seem miniscule. Even with powerouttages and a shut down of their country’s major city, Port Au Prince, Social Media is playing a major role in not only contact efforts, but contributing to sending much needed aid immediately as well.

The American Red Cross has set up a telephone number which cellphone users can call to donate $10 per call. Cell users need only text the word ‘HAITI’ to 90999 and a donation of $10 is sent to the Red Cross on behalf of the caller. Other organizations have a similar mechanism in place as well. Weyclef Jean, noted musician with the now defunct musical group Fugees has set up a relief fund through his Yele foundation at http://www.yele.org. Like the Red Cross model cell callers only need text YELE to 501501 which donates $5 to the foundation and charges it to the caller’s cell bill. Both examples of mobile smart technology use are truly an amazing snapshots of ingenuity within an emergency and cultural context.

While times have changed, natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, tsunamis in South Pacific and now unfortunately Haiti –  which has already seen hurricanes in the past – do not. I can recall when Hurricane Katrina his the U.S. the newest form of instant citizen support was via their computer. Donations were collected via conventional telephone or cell to a designated number or given online. Now that people practically have mobile computers on them at all times, this has enabled much needed contributions to be instantaneous even faster. As a just a few hours ago mobile donation were approaching $1 million.

Red Cross Raises $800,000+ for Haiti Through Text Message Campaign

I realize that the U.S. and the international community are going through the hardest recession/depression in decades. Many people are barely working.  It warms the heart to know that even in this climate,  people worldwide still care for one another enough to dig down deep into savings and give. 

– Maurice W.

FACing up to ways Social Media is used – Virtually Astounding.

December 17, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ll be honest, when it comes to facebook gaming, I’m not a participant. But a recent article I read in Adage.com didn’t bring me any closer to wanting to be one either.  According to a December 9, 2009 article in Adage.com entitled, “Health Insurers Paying Facebook Gamers Virtual Currency to Oppose Reform Bill” players of popular games such as Mafia Wars or Farmville should be very careful in how they accrue points to play their games.  Usually, gamers need additional points called virtual currency to continue playing in these virtual games.

Facebook players accumulate points by buying them literally with their own money, winning the games they’re playing or by signing up with a 3rd party who will make them an offer and in exchange for the user accepting the offer recieve virtual points. For example, companies such as Netflix offer these facebook gamers virtual points in exchange for the gamer accepting and product or service trial. But, what happens when politics gets into the mix? This is the case as the debate for universal healthcare has entered the arena of facebook.

You may ask yourself, “What does healthcare and facebook have to do with one another?” Well, not so surprisingly, a majority of the users that healthcare companies are targeting – women in their 30s and 40s are heavy facebook users. An organization called Get Healthcare Reform Right has enlisted the aid of facilitators such as Gambit to bring together healthcare status quo advocates, facebook gamers and facebook game creators. Players desperately desiring to play on their favorite game, but lack virtual currency to continue merely need to fill out a survey supplied by GetHealthcareReformRight.org. Get Healthcare Reform Right acts on behalf of some of the largest healthcare insurer organizations in the U.S. Such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers and Healthcare Leadership Council. After filling out the survey, the following email is sent to their Congressperson:

 

 

Get Healthcare Reform Right Screenshot

Tell Congress to Get Health Reform Right!

“I am concerned a new government plan could cause me to lose the employer coverage I have today. More government bureaucracy will only create more problems, not solve the ones we have.”

The players receive their points, the political lobbyists are happier for more support and the game creator is happier that more participants are using their facebook gaming software.  

Politricks are nothing new to the American people, but using Social Media to further these gains are some unchartered waters. Will there be a Social Media backlash? Is it ethical to promote a political agenda via Social Media? Many people believe we probably wouldn’t have the latest President of the United States without his campaign party’s use of some matter of Social Media, so fair is fair. Astroturfing is the term used to describe paying someone for their political support and its NOT illegal – I always thought it was called bribery myself.  Unlike true “grassroots” followings, astroturfing is so named because it is “fake-grassroots” in nature.   Will the healthcare debate in the United States come down to how many virtual points Andre or Vera or Sophie need to continue to play Balloono or Hover Kart Battle? I sincerely hope not, but the next time a facebook friend shows me their next highest score on a virtual game, I’m going to be very concerned how they got that score and at what cost is it indirectly is to me, personally.

Health Insurers Caught Paying Facebook Gamers Virtual Currency To Oppose Reform Bill

Social Media for one?

December 3, 2009 Leave a comment

Social Media for one?

December and January are not only the time for holiday shopping whether its Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving of Blue Monday for online gift shoppers. It marks the end of NCAA Division I men’s College football season. The BCS, which stands for Bowl Championship Series, was founded in 1998 to answer the outcry of fans to dub or nominate a true first place/number one team for that football season. Over the years, however there has been no harmony among its creators and the fans. Fans see major faults within the system and desire a tournament style setting for teams to participate in to nominate one team to the number one spot.

Many leagues, the NFL, NCAA men’s and women’s college basketball – just to name a few – do just that with significantly higher ratings and fan approval. March wouldn’t be nearly as ‘Mad’ a month without the countdown to whose school will finish the tops in men’s college basketball. The Super Bowl has seen astronomical viewing from its premiere game at the end of January. Lower divisions of men’s college football, II and III, ironically have had this competition for years. People tend to be more engaged whether their home team of former alma mater are participating using this method yet the NCAA men’s college football has decided not to jump on board. So in the midst of all this discontent, the BCS thought joining the Web 2.0 world might be a solution to their problem. They decided to create a social media Twitter feed, (@insidetheBCS) and a Facebook fan page.

On paper, it sounds like a great idea. Find out what your fan base’s feelings are and converse with them to get feedback. College fans are some of the most passionate people around and football is no exception, so this would be a great opportunity for the BCS to interact with them. There’s only one problem: The BCS wasn’t interacting as much as it was preaching – Big Mistake! According to Ad Age, the BCS’s first tweets were only “a stream of pro-BCS talking points.”

Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are designed with interaction in mind. So when the BCS hired a Public Relations expert, who used their Twitter platform to merely how great the BCS bowl system was and did nothing to respond to fan rage or questions over why things could not be altered, they were merely broadcasting on a two way medium. Also according to Ad Age, the BCS spent nearly a week only spewing out party lines information much to the disappointment of viewers and fans. Fan anger at the BCS increased at a rapid pace. It almost comes across as if the BCS or any business doesn’t care to listen to its customer base, a huge mistake in today’s networking world. It doesn’t take much for fans to continuously feel that the BCS – and in turn the NCAA -under appreciate them and don’t care about them as customers or patrons. In today’s business world, it takes much more time to gain new customer’s trust than to develop and cultivate existing relationships. I am not taking sides – although it would be interesting to see a football tournament – but a basic rule in using engagement web based materials is consumers are coming to you to not only learn, but ask additional questions and provide their impressions of your implemented content.

The BCS should be using channels like Twitter and Facebook as opportunities rather than blowing this chance with its fans. It has been reported, that the BCS have finally begun responding directly to their fans tweets. Hopefully, it is not a case of too little too late. It should be noted, that huge amounts of money are at stake for the BCS, the NCAA and more specifically the schools themselves to keep the status quo. The BCS and ESPN sports cable network recently signed a 5-year $500 MILLION dollar deal to broadcast these 5 games; not the kind of money anyone walks away from. Schools participating in the 5 BCS games can earn up to $18 million each. This is a very good payday, win or lose. Of the other 29 lesser-known bowl games, between $500 thousand and $4.25 million can be earned, which even if you do not participate in the BCS ‘big-5’, can be a great consolation prize.

So, for the moment things will remain in limbo with such well know people as the current President of the United States chiming in wishing there were a more concrete way of determining a coherent college finale`. With all that said, the underlying question in today’s e-communication world is ‘Can firms afford not to listen to what consumers want?’ It is important to know they want your attention as much if not even more than your product.

The World Makes Coke Go Round.

October 28, 2009 Leave a comment

I recall, when the world was flatter and isolated in terms of marketing and advertising, commercials for Coca-Cola had 1 way message slogans like: “Coke – It’s the Real Thing” on radio and/or TV. There was also the ever popular jingles with an Up with People flare, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib-Qiyklq-Q. This commercial contained very inspiring lyrics; “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, I’d like to buy the world a Coke…”. It was a great utopist vision of everyone united on a “We are the World for Soda” kind of theme.
Today, however the marketing communications landscape has changed. Websites, Social Media outlets are the norm; even if you’re a firm that hasn’t quite grasped the true usage of the mediums at hand; Coca-Cola is no exception. Their newest quest for world soda domination comes in the form of the Expedition 206 Campaign. http://www.expedition206.com/
Combine the TV show The Amazing Race with a smiley Facebook edge and you’ve got Coca-Cola’s Expedition 206 campaign. The objective: A 3 person team will cris-cross 206 countries (Where Coke is sold), 150,000 miles in 365 days. In an effort to continue spreading the gospel of ‘buying the world a Coke’, as well as helping dub it the brand of Happiness, this band of 3 will interact with residents of the cities and towns to find out what it is in their lives that make them happy. Nine contestants , which will be voted down to three buy online voters, remain and will be voted down to 3 by
November 6, 2009. Coca-Cola has stated the winning team of 3 will receive travel expenses and a per diem sum during their trip. The 3 will keep a record of their findings via the web and perform tasks at each location, which are supplied by online supporters.
According to Coke, they are to be considered ‘Brand Ambassadors’. It is an interesting concept filled with many possibilities and opportunities. People worldwide will be able to give feedback both through the Internet and in one of the 206 destinations. It’s almost like people who are fans of the brand will have a chance to be partners with Coke to spread the happiness. It will also build brand equity by reminding people of the emotional links between Coca-Cola and its global uniting qualities.
Coke clearly recognizes the impact social media have with young people here in the U.S., and increasing in growth with the world at large. Enhancing their image in places where young people live today, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, etc. is not only smart its essential. The interactive voting aspect can engage new a new core of users. This engagement can tie viewers into the activity of the winning group and truly bring a perspective of the world they may have never seen before.
As stories of social unrest continually grace our Internet news sites and financial upheaval both in the U.S. and globally are apparent, Coke’s unifying message couldn’t arrive at a better time. Some may say ‘its just kids getting free trips and horsing around’. And some people may be right as judging by some clips such as these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mefAF4DzN_4


But, even I must admit it looks like a lot fun. And getting a chance to spread something as simple as a positive feeling, does sound appealing.