I’m a fan of HBO’s Entourage. While it’s not theatrical genius – it’s a good way to while away 30 minutes on Sunday night laughing at things that will likely never happen to me….or anyone like me, anytime soon (I guess I’m admitting that I’ll never be a movie star). Why am I discussing Entourage in my blog you ask? Well – I was at the Internet Strategy Forum in PDX yesterday and in particular, listening to Jeremiah Owyang’s discussion about the Future of the Social Web. He had a great quote regarding mobile devices and the social community, which I tweeted:
No hash tag related to Entourage or it’s fictional movie star, Vinny Chase and no url linking to the show itself. Simply ‘entourage’ and ‘Vinny Chase’ in the string in my tweet. Not 30 seconds later, I get an email in my inbox stating: ‘Ari Gold is now following you on Twitter‘.
A follower that’s relevant to MY entourage? Probably not – after looking at the Ari Gold profile and the subsequent website associated with that profile. However, pretty powerful to see an almost immediate reaction to a very innocuous and tongue in cheek Tweet – the power of the social web.
This is not a new rule by any means. However, brands are becoming more and more aware that listening to their customers wants/needs is crucial if they are going to stand out in a sea of choices. I’ve used this quote by Barry Judge in previous posts – it bears repeating:
“You’re a part of the conversation, a part of what is being said about your brand. You don’t get to tell customers what they get to think anymore”
The video below, sent to me by my PR counterpart, Becky, illustrates this very simple tenant to a tee. Distilling down to one key point, customers are relaying a very powerful messages to advertisers these days: “I’ve changed, and you haven’t – we don’t even hang out in the same places anymore“.
Simple as that – advertisers and brands must recognize that their customers are interacting with their messages differently these days. It’s not enough to raise the megaphone and simply talk TO your customers. You have to be willing to engage with your customers on their terms, listen to what they are saying about your offering, and incorporate their input into your future interactions with them. The successful brands recognize this and are engaged in a 2-way dialogue with their target audience – using that input to shape future brand experiences with that customer. Those that don’t recogize the value of this input and the power of customer sentiment around their brand are doomed to fail.
Charlene Li of the Altimeter Group and author of Groundswell, released a new report (great visual here) today that looks at the 100 most valuable brands and how engaged they are in the their social media efforts. Intel, the company that pays my wage, is tied with Yahoo for #10. I’m pretty proud of this as I know the social media practitioners within the walls of Intel have worked very hard to earn this recognition and ranking. The best part – they are directly correlating engagement to financial performance. Finally – validation that social media engagement, if done effectively and consistently, can lead to a positive ROI for the company that is exhibiting good business practice in this space. Looking forward to helping raise that rank in 2009.
CNN Money reports today that in at least one Seattle location, Starbucks is undergoing an identity change and swapping out it’s globally recognized brand name in favor of a more local ‘flavor’ – naming each store to reflect it’s neighborhood location. In addition to this name change, Starbucks is planning on also transforming the experience the customer has within the store itself. Beyond their trademark coffee and tea offerings they are planning on adding beer and wine to the beverage list and ‘opening stores with a more sophisticated tone that hearkens back to its early coffeehouse days‘.
It’s an interesting move. Starbucks has faced declining sales in the last year as the economy has pulled back and the customer is closely watching their pocketbook in the face of financial uncertainties. Premium coffee habits have given way to more pressing needs in the minds of consumers. Will changing a globally recognized brand name and revamping the customer experience inside the store help this?
From my perspective, they should have tapped into their thriving community to see what they thought of the idea. They clearly have a valued and active area for people to share their thoughts and wishes – why not ask for something back from that same community when Starbucks is testing a new concept? That would have been the smart move. This will be an interesting one to watch. Now instead of grabbing a ‘Starbucks’, I guess at least some coffee addicts in Seattle will be grabbing a 15th Ave Coffee. Just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Then again, you can’t get a beer at a Starbucks so they’ve got that going for them!
There is a 3 week span in July each year where I am virtually worthless at night. I find myself spending massive amounts of time on my couch – remote in hand, watching 180 of the fittest athletes on earth climbing mountains on two wheels, racing through the countryside faster than the average commute, and literally wrestling each other to the finish line in an all out pedal mashing sprint. This year, Versus has nearly perfected their online presence for their coverage of The Tour de France. They offer several levels of quality – from low quality via the free selection to a full HD experience, on demand, with their paid season pass.
Versus brings a very strong social element to the site – pulling in the Twitter feeds of Lance Armstrong, Team SlipStream, and the official TDF tweet stream. Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen, Bob Roll and others on the broadcasting team each contribute semi-regular blogs during the 3 weeks the tour rolls through France. Additionally, there is an extremely active communitycontinously interacting on the message boards – debating the likes of who is the odds on favorite to win the individual stages, sharing photos from the action, and kibutzing the team dynamics of Team Astana.
While I still spend hours on my couch each night watching these men on wheels fly through French countryside, I find that a quick peek (ok, sometimes it’s a bit longer than that if the stage is exciting) on Versus’ site makes for a great viewing experience as I kick off my work day…
“A new study by Cornell researchers shows that traditional (old-media) news outlets lead the blogosphere by 2.5 hours when it comes to breaking news.”
What I found most interesting is the methodology with which the Cornell researchers used to make their case:
“Instead of examining a few case-study pieces of news and extrapolating the behavior of the different media outlets from these limited cases, it used a powerful algorithmic search. 1.6 million mainstream media and blog Web sites were analyzed in real-time, and to see how news propagated through them all specific phrases were sampled from each site and compared to see how they appeared elsewhere”
Excellent work – base an analysis on a significant amount of data, rather than a myopic view of a few sample pieces of news – I applaud this. It also shows a need to balance the two mediums rather than assume all breaking news lies solely in the ’new media’ ecosystem.
Think about the social communities that are successful – they build upon people’s passions – gaming, photography, technology, parenting. Nike has built a phenomenal community with Nike+. It’s the people that are passionate about running and sharing their efforts that makes the community successful – kudos to the folks over at Nike for recognizing this. Nike has done a great job of building an online area that helps people celebrate their successes, ask for advice, track their progress towards personal goals, and join others in discussions about their training and racing experiences.
In addition, Nike has identified key areas where they can ‘add value’ to the community experience – simple things like providing a ‘goal’ or ‘challenge’ area to keep members of Nike+ motivated and driving towards a target. There is also a virtual coach that will guide you towards a tailored program to achieve the goal that you have set for yourself – be it a marathon, half marathon, or simply shedding a few pounds and increasing their commitment to fitness.
Finally, they have focused on a key partnership with a technology giant that everyone recognizes – Apple. By pairing the iPod and Nike+ the community is able to download coaching sessions and workout song mixes directly from iTunes to help power them through their next session. Hat tip to Nike for recognizing what’s important to their running/fitness community and providing them with the tools that keep them coming back for more. Through this, they’ve built a following to their site that is very loyal and returns regularly to contribute to, and gain from, a community experience.
Evian exploits the ‘Babies are good hucksters‘ mantra in their newest ad spot. I’d like to see a head to head battle between the Evian Babies and the E*TRADE pitchman…although that could get a little creepy. Hat tip to Evian – pretty creative and memorable spot.
According to the latest report from Forrester, Social Media Marketing will hit an annual spend of $3.1 Billion by 2014, making it the fastest growing marketing segment in the mix. Analyst Shar VanBoskirk makes a great point in the report summary:
“…the most interesting takeaway from the research is that overall advertising budgets will decline. Yep. With dollars moving out of traditional media toward less expensive and more efficient interactive tools, marketers will actually need less money to accomplish their current advertising goals.”
There must be some wood behind this social media arrow….I’m just sayin’…
I’ve been at Intel since the late 90′s and during my time here, it’s pretty apparent that this company is focused on the ‘future‘ , with the mindset that Intel is a leader in technological innovation. Intel strives to deliver solutions that make people’s lives more exciting and fulfilling – enabling positive change and a better, more interesting world. Beyond the labs and the fabs, the media team also tries to have a little bit of fun in our advertising (as you can tell with our recent Rock Star ad in our Sponsors of Tomorrow campaign) and in some of the sponsorships we choose to put our media behind.
Most recently, we’ve decided to work with Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl and help her out with a few things on her “Life List“. You wouldn’t necessarily expect that Intel and Maggie would be a natural fit – however, her Life List personifies what ‘Tomorrow’ feels like for the everyday person. Don’t get me wrong – Maggie is far from ordinary, but like the rest of us she has some aspirations of things she’d like to do as she moves through life. We’re pretty excited to help her check a few of those things off and, based on the comments on her posts, her readers are too!
Kelly Says: “Intel suddenly ROCKS as a brand in my opinion”
ElJay Says: “Wow, wow, wow. That is incredible. Way to go Intel!”
Heather Says: “OMG – THRILLED for you! How FANTASTIC! And what an amazing thing for Intel to do…..particularly in this crazy time! I love your list and can’t wait to see how it all unfolds! Congrats!”
Keep track of Maggie’s progress (she’ll be tap dancing like Fred Astaire in no time!) on her list through her Blog and Twitter- we’ll be doing some fun things with her over the coming months. I can’t reveal all of the list items we’re helping her with here – that wouldn’t be any fun and we want to surprise you with how Intel is helping Maggie whittle down that list of life to do’s…stay tuned – much more fun to come, tomorrow!
The idea for this came from Federated Media, which works with many bloggers around the world. They’ve been working with my team for several years, and their creativity and good relationships are helping bring to life the “Sponsors of Tomorrow” theme we’ve been building since March.