Friday, May 1, 2015

Creative Infographics Focus on Tragedy

Tragedies around the world have generated powerful social media. This is one of a series of infographics that chronicle the destruction in Yemen.

The author, Ruba Aleryani, is a Yemeni student at Brown University who has chosen social media to give expression to the suffering of her country. I read about it on Global Voices, a global newsletter worth following, 

You can follow Ruba on Twitter @raleryan where the extent and the creativity of her activism is apparent.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Votes are In! Mobile is Leading Marketing Trend for 2015

But it’s more than just the leading trend across many 2015 prognostications. It is going to be the strategic driver of much that happens in the digital space in 2015.

And since digital is increasingly driving overall marketing strategy, mobile will indeed have a pervasive influence this year.

What is really important is that mobile is more than devices, it is more than a platform. Some have described it as a “layer,” which in an IT sense seems applicable. It has also been suggested that mobile is so important that it is a strategy. Thinking about it, I have decided that the best term is “ecosystem.” That’s not a new description, but it seems to mostly be used by techs talking about systems, not marketers talking about strategy. Geoff  Ramsey of eMarketer calls mobile the “Swiss Army Knife” of marketing.

In reviewing many prognostications about marketing in 2015, I made a list of aspects of the marketing mobile ecosystem. Here are five of the most important ways mobile will affect marketing in 2015:

1. Mobile-first marketing strategies. Many experts agree on the importance of putting mobile first when developing marketing strategies. So many people consume so much content on mobile—and an increasing number are connected to the Internet only by mobile—that the mobile experience is taking center stage.
2. Video will be the content of choice. says that the video play button will represent the most compelling call to action for marketers. Video creates a compelling presence on mobile for brands that use it creatively in pursuit of their strategy.
3. Apps increase role as favored access for consumers. Much of consumers’ mobile time is spent on apps, not on the Internet. That makes apps more important for marketers who can use them in ways that are targeted, personalized and an integral part of the consumer decision journey. Some will go along on that journey as wearables.
4. Mobile payments will take off. Payment systems are more available, more widely accepted by retailers and easier to use. The danger in this one is a hack that destroys consumer confidence in the systems.
5. Connectivity will grow.  Connected cars and houses have become reality. The “Internet of Things” will have a large impact on daily life and the way consumers view products and brands.

The Outcome—Omnichannel Consumer Experience Takes Center Stage. As mobile permeates all channels—from communications, to retail, to ecommerce—the omnichannel experience will be increasingly defined by the mobile experience. That makes the totality of consumer experience critical to brand success. And creating seamlessly excellent customer experience across many online and offline channels is difficult.

I hope you’ll also find these in-depth resources useful and that you will add your comments and insights on this look ahead to 2015!

From Silverpop
From TopRank blog
From Social Media Examiner blog
From Mashable
My mobile customer experience presentation 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Curation Contributes to Amazing Instagram Account

According to Mashable one government agency, the Interior Department, has Instagram figured out. This image is of the super moon in late June. "Beautiful photo of the #Moon over #TurretArch in #Arches National Park last night." Take a look at their Instagram account and marvel at the images that document the natural beauty of the United States. Don't the images make you want to visit some of these places? And maybe submit a photo to their summer contest (2013)? Notice that the contest is posted on the White House blog. Interior has a news page, but I don't find a blog. The White House would probably have more followers anyway!

Huff Post calls it "an impressively well-curated Instagram account." Director of Digital Strategy Tim Fullerton  explained some of their practices to Mashable.

Their Instagram page has over 200,000 followers at present, another testimony to the power of the channel. And their social media concentration on Instagram suggests a good understanding of the channels available.

First posted July 1, 2013. Updated March 11, 2014.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Are Non-Profits Using Social Media Strategically?

I recently pinned an infographic with data about foundation use of social media platforms. It is interesting, but not surprising. Selected data from the infographic shows that:

Facebook is the most popular platform by a considerable margin. Note that blogging was not included as a platform even though my guess is that it is widely used.

The majority of foundation users of social media do not have a formal strategy.

That's unfortunate, because a majority think social media is useful in several respects.

A recent study of non-profit organizations showed similar results. Facebook, used by 82% of the responding non-profits, was far and away the most popular. Twitter came in second with only 54% of using the platform. This study asked about blogging and that found only 32% have blogs while 48% host online discussion forums, which is an interesting juxtaposition.

Two things strike me. The first is to wonder whether Facebook is most used for its strategic value or for its familiarity. If it is a platform favored by the target audience of the non-profit, that's good. If it's a platform with which non-profit marketers are themselves familiar, that makes the choice questionable.

The second is to wonder about the nature of use of social platforms. Facebook and Twitter are excellent for announcements--programs and events, for example. Relatively little use is being made of platforms which convey in-depth information--blogging and YouTube as two good examples.

Non-profits need to make the best use of their resources, which are often scarce. Non-strategic use of social media is certainly not a best practice.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Boston Strong and the 100% Model

Bostonians rushed in to help in the wake of the devastating explosion that ripped through the festivities at the finish of Boston Marathon on April 15, 2014. Bystanders aided the wounded, storekeepers offered shelter, and first responders ran toward the chaos. Others of us simply sat in front of our TVs, watching in horror as events unfolded.  As the day went on it became clear that many of the injuries were extremely serious and would require multiple surgeries and long-term rehabilitation.

The philanthropic response was a model in several ways. Boston had a 5-term mayor and Massachusetts had a 2-term governor who took quick action. The next day they announced The One Fund to aid victims. Their names lent credibility as did the involvement of large Boston firms like John Hancock. By the end of the week a simple website was up, accepting donations but warning that the organization had not yet applied for 501(c)(3) status; that is only now in process. All the publicity surrounding the fund emphasized that administrative costs would be covered by separate fundraising with all donations going directly to victim assistance—the 100% model.

Responses have been many and varied—from the Boston Strong t-shirts sold by Emerson College students to a fund-raising concert to many efforts in social media. Twenty million dollars was raised within the first week. In July 2013 the fund was able to distribute almost $61 million to victims under the direction of well-known mediator Kenneth Fineberg. Another distribution is planned for this July. In the meantime, the first Boston Marathon to be held since the bombing will include a One Fund charity team. Many private fundraising events are anticipated.

To the best of my knowledge no whiff of corruption has been attributed to the fund itself—no mean feat for a hastily assembled effort. Of course, it brought out the scammers but from an outside perspective it seemed this was expected and swiftly dealt with. The fund appears to have raised over $70 million to date.  

Writing in the Able Altruist blog Stephanie Kapera lists 5 lessons from this success:

  1. Act Quickly
  2. Leverage Online Influencers
  3. Use a Multi-Channel Approach
  4. Use Hashtags
  5. Use Visuals.

Does the success of The One Fund support both the importance of the 100% model and the speeding up of the fund-raising cycle? Probably. It also may support the difficulty of maintaining the 100% model. A recent announcement said that the salary of the new executive director of the fund would be paid from donations.

Any success has imitators and smaller charities can’t match the personal leverage of Boston’s power structure. This was recently brought home to me when I donated to a small non-profit. I was asked to add a small additional percentage to cover administrative costs. The platform was YouCaring., which says it remains free because administrative costs are covered by donations.

This was totally transparent and the extra amount was editable and optional. To me, however, it is not truly an example of the 100% model.

Thinking about it, I wonder if the lesson is that the model is best sustained by a single, often charismatic, individual not by a somewhat-faceless organization. Charity:water remains true to the model, but it is not clear that many others do.

Does anyone have direct experience with or thoughts on the subject?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Creativity is Indispensable in Social Media Too

Here's an interesting tweet from a UNICEF campaign in the UK. Matt Rhodes from Fresh Networks retweeted it, saying it's at the edge of social media. It was a UK campaign; I did not ever see it in the US.

I agree. It's a compelling call to action, and a reminder of the limits of social media.

Or is it a reminder of the reach of social media?

Either way, it is definitely creative fund raising!

If you are interested in creative campaigns in social media, here is a recent list, all of which have thought-provoking aspects. 
First published on April 23, 2013. Updated February 21, 2014.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What is the Role of Blogging vs Newer Social Platforms?

There is no doubt that business blogging is an essential part of content media strategy whether the target is B2B or B2C.  The immediacy and ability of blogging to communicate detailed information and to provide deep links to website content or other calls to action can’t be matched. However, new platforms like Pinterest and Instagram and even tools like infographics cause some to question the value of blogging, even in B2B.

As an individual I started blogging “early days.” Candidly I was afraid my brain would atrophy when I retired from full-time teaching and blogging seemed a way to keep it alive. It turned out to be even more—a way to learn about the emerging discipline of social media marketing. I kept the diy-Marketing blog going for several years, until it was so content heavy that its response was unacceptable. I started another strategy blog and found an interesting response to a series of Social Media for Good posts. However, by that time my primary professional activity was the Internet Marketing textbook, providing updates for adopters of the text and thinking about a 4th edition. Blogging proved to have less value in that context.

I have a new Google+ page each year so Internet marketing instructors can search current material for their courses. Debra [Zahay, coauthor of the IM text] has a Google+ community and a Facebook page for the book, and I contribute to both. I have 3 Pinterest boards and Debra and I share another. I have been amazed at the way people pick up on my Pinterest postings even though I have done nothing to promote them beyond the users of our text. I try to see most of the posts from all the platforms are fed through to my Twitter account.

So what? In doing all of this I’ve come to have strong opinions about where content curation fits in and the role of content creation.

Content curation specifically keyed to our textbook (objective of  2014 Internet Marketing Update G+ page) the has the potential to fill an important role for the users. Since personal brand development is no longer a huge objective for me, curation doesn’t do a great deal for me personally.

Creation of original content, as Debra has often pointed out, contributes to visibility on the web in a way that mere curation does not. Even more important to me personally is that my blog is my voice on the Internet. It is my creative opportunity to say what I believe and to try to make a contribution to the discipline. Consequently, I have started this new blog with a limited focus. “Social Technology for Good, or for Mischief” allows me to continue the postings which received favorable attention in the earlier blog. There is plenty of mischief around but it is the personal privacy implications that particularly interest me. I’m working on visibility for this blog because I want people to find it. My rule is only to write a post when I can make a contribution, even if the contribution is only careful research.

That brings me to infographics. I like them and have a Pinterest board for infographics. However, they are so numerous that they litter the Internet landscape. Many have no lasting value. They represent visual curation, not the creation of original content. Consequently, I do not agree with those who regard them as a substitute for blogging. If the blogger has a point of view and a message, that requires a verbal argument, not statistics with pictures.

Even with careful attention to distributing and optimizing content, there is only so much any one individual can do. That is the point of the graphic. Some platforms lend themselves to original content—websites and blog postings because they do not have length restrictions, videos (short or long form) because they are inherently informative and engaging. Many of the platforms that have become popular recently are really “announcement platforms” They are invaluable for distributing content but for business use they usually need to link to more detailed content like a blog post or a web page.

Likewise there is only so much any given brand should do. The old rule is still just as true—the choice of communications platforms depends on objectives. As you choose just factor in an additional consideration—curation vs. original content! 

Originally posted February 18, 2014 as final post on Social Media Marketing Strategy blog.