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Social Media - Five Predictions for 2012

Another year, another step closer to viewing social media less as a newfangled technology and more as a must-have in your marketing plan. My 5 predictions for social in 2012. Feel free to add yours! 1. Going beyond the blue F. Yes, you have a tiny blue "F" at the bottom of your ad perhaps a tiny blue bird as well. While it's a good reminder to consumers to look for you in the social space it's kind of passe. People expect you to be there and people expect you to be listening. In 2012 I believe the companies who are doing it "right" will give people a reason to visit their page, use their hashtag, or take that extra step. Some will integrate it into a campaign - visit us on Facebook and tell us why you love to drive your Honda - others will wave a reward to lure people in - follow us on Twitter for breaking airline deals. Either way, you need to give a reason, the blue F isn't enough anymore.

2. Interests are key. Facebook will continue to be the keeper of our personal memories, stashed away in a beautiful timeline, but the other space to play in for social networks is our personal interests. Twitter has capitalized on this and the emerging network Pinterest is also quickly gaining ground. When we want to take a break from our friends and selfishly look at what interests us, these types of networks will be where we go. Facebook tried to tap into this with its subscribe button, but posts on your interests are often overwhelmed in your newsfeed by your friends' activity. I believe they are two separate needs, and ultimately two platforms.

3. Social will continue to be an important voice. From the upcoming election to unrest in the Middle East, social media will  be the people's voice and play an important role in social change.

4. Mobile, mobile, mobile. Social media will be how we show the world what we are seeing, hearing, feeling while we are on the go. From pictures to check-ins to status updates, social will continue to be our voice on the run, our source of news, our quick hellos, our way to kill five minutes in the waiting room. The big networks will continue to invest in their mobile platforms and you'll start seeing more mobile ads on social networks.

5. Getting help. Companies will continue to have that a-ha moment when they realize that social takes time and they need to either staff up or outsource. At first they'll try to save a few dollars and pawn it off on the intern. Then they'll realize their intern may know his/her way around Facebook but is not quite yet a marketing genius and get someone with more experience. It seems to be the path most businesses go. What I predict you'll see is more affordable social marketing support in the next year. Smaller agencies who will run your Twitter, Facebook accounts for a reasonable amount.

My five predictions, let's hear yours.



American Express Facebook Integration

There's a difference between a marketing activity that is designed to create buzz for the business, and a marketing activity that is designed to provide a solution for a consumer. In theory, if you provide a useful, quality solution, buzz will follow. It's too early to tell, but by all appearances, American Express' new partnership with Facebook provides a solution. If I'm an AMEX user I can enter my card information into an app which lives on American Express' Facebook page. The app then connects my Facebook likes with deals and special offers American Express provides, therefore delivering offers I'll actually use. Pretty sweet.

Even better... the whole transaction is paperless. The deals or offers are loaded onto the card so I don't have to worry about printing anything off.

I love this. I love this almost as much as the Chase commercial I saw recently where you can take a picture of a check and deposit from your phone.

There is so much data on  social to be harnessed and put to good use. Not just to paint a clearer picture of your customer so you can target better, but to actually tweak your services so you're selling something people actually want. A strange concept, right?

What other real solutions have you seen on social or mobile?


ESPN Magazine Fumbles with QR Code Issue

ESPN Magazine isn't the first pub to push QR codes but its April 4, 2011 issue, provided some good learnings to share on what you should and shouldn't do. First let's get the biggest mishap out of the way -  ESPN used Microsoft Tags on all its editorial content and even included instructions for readers on how to download (a nice touch). Here's the bad part...they   forgot to tell their advertisers they were going the Microsoft Tag route.

While Microsoft Tags are great in the sense they provide analytics to the company using them, they aren't universal -you have to download a specific Microsoft Tag app and a lot of other popular scanning apps don't read Microsoft Tags. So while readers went through the steps to download an app for the editorial content, this app was not able to access all the advertisers' QR codes which did not use Microsoft Tags.

I could hear the ad guys selling in the idea to their customers and completely failing to mention that the tag reader instructions were going to be for Microsoft Tags only. The experience would have been much smoother if  I could have used the same app on all pages. I don't blame the ad guys entirely, but it does show that there really wasn't an understanding of how the technology works.

Putting tag types aside there were some winners and opportunities to improve when it came to QR Code use.


- Mountain Dew: Mountain Dew's ad led to a mobile optimized site and there was a clear call to action to vote for a new flavor. In other words, I knew exactly why I was scanning and the user experience was easy and attractive. #winning

- Discovery's Deadliest Catch: Clear call to action - "scan for exclusive videos" - great mobile optimized site with a ton to do and explore.

- ESPN: There was also a clear call to action on why I should scan and the information was useful. I wished they would mixed up the video content or at least changed the interview was a wee bit bland. But props to ESPN for also tying in a sweeps to the scans to get you to scan each and every code. More you scanned the better your chance was of taking home the XBox.

- NO2 Red (Muscle Enhancement): I've never seen this product before but they did a great job of driving trial with readers by leading them to a mobile optimized website where they offered up a coupon and more info. They also offered a text option within the ad for those who didn't have a smart phone.

Room to Improve:

- Lexus CT: No clear call to action on why I should scan, and when I did it lead me to downloadable music clips from new bands. Kind of odd because their whole message was one of being green. There was a disconnect for me.

-Hankook Tires: Timing is everything. When I scanned to enter to win a Ford Explorer I received a message that the sweeps hadn't started. I suppose they didn't take into account subscribers get the publication prior to April 4. Another communication gap between client and ad team.

Ads I Wish Had a QR Code but Didn't

- Belvedere and Absolut: A recipe would have been nice.

- GEICO Caveman Guy: A funny video or access to the GEICO app where they have games and downloads would have been good, especially because it is already built

-Old Spice: Who doesn't want to see more of the Old Spice man? The brand had an interesting behind the scenes video of the making of their commercial that would have been cool to tie in.

- History Channel's Swamp People: This show fascinates me and I would have loved video clips of some gator wrestling. A miss especially when you saw what Discovery Channel did.

- Mobile Companies - I don't really know if I wanted to see content from HTC and AT&T but I did feel they should have been leading the QR charge, being mobile and all.

That's my take. Anyone else have scanning fun with the issue?

2011 Four Areas of Growth for Social

Four areas of social that I see becoming more prominent in 2011. Fingers crossed that I'm right.

1. Facebook: Facebook will continue to innovate and dominate.  They just surpassed Google for goodness sake. From Places to Deals to Community and Friendship pages Facebook was throwing out a new curveball every few months in 2010. My tip: It's Facebook's world, and each change they roll out is usually part of their bigger master plan. I try to spend less time complaining about the small changes and more time trying to figure out what direction Facebook is heading in order to stay ahead of the curve.

2. Traditional Media: Social Media will continue to invade Traditional Media. Not only are businesses hosting profiles on social media they are incorporating social into their more "traditional" elements - advertisements, websites, email campaigns.  My tip: Putting social front and center on marketing materials not only makes you look relevant, but more importantly sends a message that you are open to a two-way conversation. It's also a great way to extend the conversation beyond a TV ad, piece of point of sale, brochure, etc.

3. Mobile: Mobile + Social is going to continue to revolutionize the space. Whether it is tapping into the GPS function for a social check-in or using your phone camera  to instantly upload pictures from an event, meal, night out with allows people to tell their stories right then and there. It also allows people to reap instant benefits. I think more companies will take advantage of Foursquare, Facebook Deals, Stickybits in 2011. My tip: If you own a space where customers come to or are hosting an event think about ways you can provide a social experience via mobile, because you know they are going to be checking that phone at some point.

4. Social Media Consultants/Agencies: (Slightly biased here) Social is a full-time job and to do it well people will need some extra support. It's one thing to set aside time to update your status, it is quite another thing to stay on top of the ever-changing world of social media. Keeping up with the new players, the trends and how to best leverage all those Facebook changes can be time consuming. My tip: If you don't have time to dedicate to social or don't have the interest, find a partner who does. It can be a crazy but exciting world out there and a little help navigating it never hurt.

Here's to 2011 and more exciting things ahead. What do you see growing in social in 2011?

Geico Mobile Effort - The Perfect Storm

I admit it. I check my horoscope every day via a horoscope app. It's silly but it has become part of my daily routine. There must be others out there checking because the app is always heavily advertised on. Today I noticed an ad from Geico telling me the fun little  lizard could help give advice on romance, family, life. The ad led to a mobile site where you could spin a wheel of advice, and as you clicked there were subtle mentions about Geico and how they could save you money. Pretty smart ad placement considering people who check horoscopes are seeking advice of some sorts. Chalk one up for Geico. If you navigate further into the app it also allows you to download ringtones that tie back to their commercials. Super smart, considering I probably won't return to the app anytime soon, but now I have a piece of Geico that I'll carry with me on my phone.

I have to tell you that I wouldn't normally interact with an insurance company unless I needed insurance, but Geico has made it fun, has targeted me at a good moment with a relevant topic and has given me a reason to give them a permanent space on my phone. They also incorporated Facebook Connect so I can see how many other people have liked the little lizard's advice.

Which got me thinking about how they are represented on Facebook. If you visit Geico on Facebook you'll see they have pages for all their characters - the caveman, the gecko and even that creepy little wad of cash with googly eyes. And people eat it up. They actually go out of their way to visit the page and write things like - "u are the most adorable on the planet. Keep up the great work and stay cute and handsome" or "yer company just wrote me the BEST insurance policy ever! thanks little buddy!"

As adults we have given up stuffed animals, early morning cartoons and so often opportunities to be imaginative. So when little talking lizards are thrown in our path and we get to have a chance to play, to be silly, to laugh we tend to latch on to them.  We even take the time to seek them out on Facebook and tell them how cute they look. How can you infuse a little fun into your business and your social efforts? If an insurance company can do it and sustain it for years, I'm thinking anyone can.