Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One in Five Americans Now a Tweeter

One in Five Americans Now a Tweeter

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thoughts After Moving An Apartment: Kindle vs. Sony eReader

I just moved. And as a self-diagnosed bookworm who has been buying and KEEPING books since age 5, I am not feeling my back. My books are everywhere in the 100 unit apartment building. In the apartment, in the basement shelves, in the building's storage... Sitting among piles and boxes, I entertained the notion of purchasing a Kindle. "Imagine, no more mess. Less Advil. Less dust," I thought. Then I brushed the thought away as I really like the idea of holding a physical book, marking it up if I want to, sharing it with someone...

Fast forward to the phone call when I rang up my Sony credit card service to change my address. The customer service rep was very friendly. She knew her job. She was not reading off of a sheet to ask me how I was doing. Right before I hung up, she asked me if I were thinking of buying an eReader for the holidays. (My credit card offers points for Sony purchases.) I said yeah, maybe, no. She went on with a direct price comparison of Kindle vs the Sony product.

I must admit I was a bit surprised:

A) I didn't expect a phone customer service rep to be so eloquent
B) I didn't think anything Sony produced could cost less than a competitor's

But apparently it is: eReader is coming under $200 this season. Something to consider while I continue to unpack...Kudos to Sony for having such a smooth operator!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NYC: We Want Your App!

The City of New York is holding a competition for a smart app related to NY life in a competition coined as NYC Big Apps. Developers who submit their entries here will have the chance to get a cash prize of $20,000 and attend dinner with Mayor Bloomberg (nice!) The judges include who's who of NY tech scene, and that should encourage any entrepreneur or independent developer who is looking for an opportunity to pitch their best work.

Submissions will come through December 8th. Then the public will vote from December 15th through January 7th. What a great way to support the vibrant tech sector in NY and support local talent.

The competition is looking for entries that will help make NY more accessible and an easier place to live. If I could develop my own app, I would figure out a way to find available cabs on a rainy day!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Kanye Creeps Up on Healthcare Reform - on Twitter!

I could not resist sharing this image when I saw the little red dot in the Twitter word cloud. Our friends at Motivequest have been closely tracking the healthcare reform debate buzz online. The image below shows the various topics and key words mentioned on Twitter, related to this issue. "Obama" and "reform" are obviously in the lead. But what's that red dot? Kanye is still in the mix! He's slowly edging towards the center. Obama, watch out! He's going to steal the stage!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Social Media Engagement Works

The greatest benefit of building your brand's presence in social media is earning share of voice and establishing long-term relations. It's not just about the number of fans or the number of followers. There are many residual benefits, such as brand affinity and advocacy. Consumers who are engaged with your brand in social media are more likely to search for the brand's products, more likely to buy from that brand and more likely to click through links they see about the brand.

Here is further evidence from a recent study by GroupM Search and comScore:

- Consumers using social media are 1.7 times more likely to search with the intension of making a list of brands or products to consider purchasing compared with the average internet user.

- Consumers exposed to influenced social and paid search exhibit 223% heavier search behavior than consumers exposed to paid alone.

- 50% of social-media exposed searchers search daily for product terms, compared with 33% of non-exposed searchers.

- In organic search, consumers searching on brand product terms who have been exposed to a brand’s social marketing campaign are 2.4 times more likely to click on organic links leading to the advertiser’s site than the average user seeing a brand’s paid search ad alone.

More details on the study results are here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Join WOMMA's Webinar on New FTC Regulations

Yesterday, FTC announced new regulations that will impact the way companies have been communicating with bloggers. According to the new regulations (which we had been expecting for a while), bloggers are asked to disclose any material connections they may have with a company, if they are writing on the products and services they received from that organization. Fair? Absolutely. Tricky? Yes.

I don't think anyone in their right mind would argue against the importance of having honest conversations with bloggers and other consumers online. I would like to think that we are past the point of considering fake blogs, paid and undisclosed posts as smart marketing initiatives. Consumers will figure it out. You will lose their trust. Most importantly, you will lose their business.

However, I do think we will all need to be extra careful to make sure consumers know about the conversations between brand representatives and bloggers. We are always open and transparent about who we represent when we speak with bloggers. We always ask that their readers know how they are able to try products and where they get their information. But we obviously do not control what they write. Nor would we ever tell them how to write a post. (Would you tell Mossberg how to write his column??)

The FTC guideline is pretty clear on this: do not post without full disclosure. But, is it enough for a brand to ask bloggers that they disclose the source of their trial product? Will we need more structured and possibly legal communications with bloggers when we invite them to join programs? Does a coupon or a discount offer constitute material connection?

There will be much discussion on these types of questions in the coming days. I have a feeling we'll learn on a case by case basis, as blogger networks evolve and offer new business models. For now, the best thing to do is to over-communicate about blogger relations and brand connections... and to join WOMMA's upcoming Webinar with the organization's general counsel Tony DiResta on October 8th. Info on how to attend here at womma.org.

Twitter's Real Value

Recently I was speaking with a Columbia MBA student who wanted to know what I thought of the "zillion dollar Twitter deal." I think we are all excited about the idea of seeing glorious Internet deals coming back. Remember, when you asked for VC money for hypothetical business plans and inflated numbers and you got a few more millions to just go and try things? While I am not sure if Twitter is worth a "zillion" dollars, I do think it deserves significant investment.

Twitter is more than a 140-character message update service where people rant about their latest activities. It is a very adept tool at collecting consumer data and mapping networks. As social media tools such as Twitter become mainstream, we'll see more talk about personal CPM. Today we go through many calculations and estimations to figure out how influential an Internet user is, how far they can drive a conversation, how many people follow their word and take their advice. Twitter is revealing plans to track retweets. That's very much like seeing the list of people who quote from articles and reference other people's work when advocating new ideas. It's a simple way of gauging authority. Retweets show how an idea is embraced and spread by Internet users. As simple as it may sound, I think that's a significant development in cataloging Twitter-based information.

I see Twitter as a powerful tool that will be able to show us how authoritative and powerful a given blogger/Twitter user is. Its advanced features will add a new dimension to online research about brand-related dialogues.