Archive for the ‘Social Media Marketing’ Category

“We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!! #hmvXFactorFiring”

If you’re going to fire your social media planner wouldn’t you think to change the passwords first? This week British retailer HMV’s slight oversight, led to a live broadcast of their 60 person mass layoff to their official twitter account’s 60,000 + followers.

So who are HMV and what happened?

HMV is a 91-year-old British entertainment retailer similar to the almost defunct Virgin Megastore. I have always been a huge music fan and in my teens this was one of my favorite stores. As you can imagine given the online shift HMV has struggled to adapt its business model fast enough to the changed business environment.

On January 15, 2013 HMV entered administration (a form of bankruptcy).

On January 31, 2013 following advice from Deloitte, HMV laid off 190 employees from their corporate office and distribution centers. While this was always going to be a difficult task, the situation gained more exposure than HMV could ever have imagined, as their about to be laid off social media planner Poppy Rose Cleere tweeted the events live from the company’s twitter account:

Jilted employee live-tweets layoffs—from company account | Articles | Home

Comparing the corporate office mass firing of 60 employees to an X Factor elimination the hashtag #hmvXFactorFiring quickly went viral as HMV gained over 10,000 new Twitter followers.

The remaining employee’s lack of ability with social media was laid out for the world to see as these tweets reveal:

Jilted employee live-tweets layoffs—from company account | Articles | Home-1Poppy Rose (poppy_powers) on Twitter

The tweets were later taken down but the damage had been done and they are now part of the company’s digital footprint. Poppy Rose Cleere who had been responsible for managing HMV’s social media accounts for over 2 years, explained her action as the result of frustration at seeing the company she loved ruined. She hopes her actions can help educate HMV remaining executives finally realize the importance of social media:

“I worked tirelessly to educate the business of the importance of social media – not as a short-term commercial tool, but as a tool to build and strengthen the customer relationship – and to gain invaluable real-time feedback from the consumers that have kept us going for over 91 years. While many colleagues understood and supported this, it was the more senior members of staff who never seemed to grasp its importance. I hoped that [Thursday’s] actions would finally show them the true power and importance of social media, and I hope they’re finally listening.”

HMV has responded by sending out the following tweets:

hmv (hmvtweets) on Twitter

Time will tell if their remaining marketing staff choose to utilize social media as a way to engage with their customers. For now HMV needs to find a way to create customer experiences to stop the brand from heading to “Borders” town.

What’s your take on this story? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 


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Traditionally companies communicated with customers through outbound marketing channels, blasting advertising messages at their potential customers. In recent years the rise of social media has enabled companies to have more of a conversation with their customers. New start-up AdYapper continues the inbound marketing trend by providing a channel for companies to get feedback on their television advertising campaigns. As a one-way communication medium, television-advertising feedback is typically limited to focus groups and sales analysis, but this could change.

So What is AdYapper.com?

AdYapper offers a platform to enable advertisers to gain opinions on their commercials. Brands can verify their accounts and obtain consumer feedback on their commercials. The site offers the opportunity for marketers to gain greater insights to avoid wasting money on campaigns that don’t engage the public. AdYapper aims to empower consumers to hold advertisers accountable by sharing their thoughts. Consumers can view commercials and click if they loved it, hated it or were indifferent to it and give their opinions. Consumers can also upload ads from YouTube, and give their opinions even if the brands have not joined the site. Current commercials on AdYapper include campaigns from Coca Cola, eBay, Adobe, and Nike.

The Challenge

I love the concept of providing a forum for brands to get consumer feedback on their commercials, but the challenge will be getting consumers to want to “yap”. AdYapper may need a compensation type program similar to e-rewards.com, where consumers could receive points towards gift cards or monetary compensation for viewing sponsored commercials. Another challenge for AdYapper will be how they can make money from the site. The start-up may need to keep some of their data private in order for it to be of enough value to sell to marketers. They may also need to start collecting demographic data from consumers, as currently the site only requires Facebook or Twitter log on and an e-mail address.

AdYapper offers an innovative way to transform television marketing in to an inbound marketing opportunity. Some refining will be needed to entice consumers to participate to gain enough feedback to be truly valuable to marketers. Time will tell if AdYapper could become like Yelp for TV commercials, but what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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The title of this blog post may at first glance confuse you, as Burberry is a luxury fashion brand, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect to have a digital innovation focus. Indeed, traditionally many luxury businesses have put technology on the back burner out of fears of diluting their brand exclusivity. But Burberry is different.

When Angela Ahrendts became CEO of Burberry in 2006 she began reinventing the company’s brand image and operations. She also redefined the company’s target audience and identified an opportunity existed to increase sales among high-net-worth global younger consumers.

Ahrendt’s vision is to:

“Create a company where anyone who wanted to touch the brand could have access to it.”

In order to make this vision a reality and to reach younger consumers many of whom are digital citizens, a digital platform was needed.

By using social media platforms such as Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, accompanied with SAP application technology and with help from salesforce.com; Ahrendts has begun to transform Burberry into a social enterprise.

Here are some of the components of Burberry’s digital strategy:

An interactive website: Burberry have created an interactive website that entices its visitors to return. On the Burberry website you can watch fashion shows and see artistic creative videos displaying the latest collections. Customers can even order many of the fashions displayed in the videos. There is also an acoustic section on the site that exhibits music videos from previously unknown British singers and groups all wearing Burberry clothing, further promoting the brand.

Salesforce.com: Burberry has incorporated the Salesforce.com Chatter platform to use internally as a portal to enhance communications throughout their operations. When Burberry’s sales teams noticed larger male customers were unhappy with the fit of one of the suit styles, the Chatter enabled them to immediately bring this information to the design team to make adjustments. The company also uses the Salesforce.com Radian6 product to track and analyze what people are saying about them on social media.

Twitter: Burberry holds “Tweet-Walks” bringing images of models wearing their new collection minutes before their models hit the runway.

Facebook: Burberry did an exclusive Facebook fan only sample giveaway during the pre-launch of the Burberry Body perfume.

SAP: Burberry partnered with SAP to develop an application to provide greater customer service. The application will enable sales associates globally to pull up a customer’s information including their transaction history of all past Burberry purchases made anywhere in the world and their Burberry social media activity.

I think Burberry’s digital innovation strategy will continue to be successful for the company as its focuses on creating a wow experience to greater engage their consumers that goes beyond using digital strategy to increase sales. What do you think of Burberry’s digital innovation? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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In recent years many people have expressed concern regarding Facebook’s ever-changing privacy policy and use of user data to generate advertising revenue. A few years ago a small group of New York University students came up with an idea to try to create a new kind of social network where users rather than companies, own their personal data. The students called their idea of social freedom Diaspora and posted a thrown together amateur video on crowdfunding website Kickstarter to try to raise $10,000 to create this social network. The video far exceeded expectations raising $200,641 before coding had even begun.

The Original Diaspora Concept

The student founders of Diaspora envisaged an owner-centric social network, where users didn’t have to be concerned about their data being exploited. On Diaspora, users could store data on a server of their choosing (either their own or sign up on for someone else’s) and use, share or delete the data whenever they chose.

Using open source software the founders hope that Diaspora can challenge Facebook and destroy the notion that only one social network can dominate the market.

The Challenge

Currently Diaspora is a private site with a small dedicated following. Without any marketing more than 600,000 people have requested invites to the site. However, this is obviously a miniscule number of people in relation to Facebook’s hundreds of millions of users. When Diaspora opens to the public later this year, they will need to be able to offer other reasons beyond data ownership to entice people to join.

Potential Differentiation Opportunities for Diaspora

One idea the company is exploring relates to the possibilities that could open up for people who own their own social network data to greater analyze, learn and profit from it. Along these lines a data locker model is being explored where users can choose to share their data selectively with businesses they trust.

Diaspora is also working to add greater artistic ownership to the site, to allow users to control how each post appears visually, in order to greater display their personalities on their profiles. Once this prototype becomes a reality users will be able have creative control over their page and status update layout, font, and how photos and videos are displayed. The idea is to allow users to create innovative page imagery that they could be proud to share. Users can also share their Diaspora profile on other social network sites, which will help Diaspora to recruit new users.

Diaspora’s Potential

A recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek on Diaspora suggests that:

‘The data economy’s “disregard for individuals” is a ticking time bomb, that increasingly large security breaches and that feeling of being tracked will slowly shift consumers to demand more control. And that could mean a larger audience for Diaspora.’

In June Diaspora will join the startup accelerator program Y-Combinator. Y-Combinator has helped launch cloud storage site Dropbox and house/vacation sharing website Airbnb which I wrote about last week among other companies. It is hoped that Diaspora will evolve during its time at Y-Combinator with a possible public launch later in the year.

The recent success of Instagram illustrates that users like creative control, which suggests that Diaspora could be successful by giving users design freedom. However, so many social networks have failed to compete with Facebook. MySpace for example, offers users more creative freedom than Facebook, (albeit not as much as Diaspora is proposing) and is no longer popular. Time will tell how Diaspora performs, but what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Meanwhile if you would like to learn more about Diaspora check out the project website and to request an invite to join click here. 

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A few days ago I was fortunate to hear Dave Polivy owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports speak on content strategy and search engine optimization. Tahoe Mountain Sports is primarily a web commerce company (with one retail outlet in Kings Beach, CA) who have leveraged social media to grow their business.

As an e-commerce business Dave has always recognized that technology changes every day and that change is continually needed to stay ahead of the game. A few years ago Google changed its algorithms lowering many of Tahoe Mountain Sports product search result positions negatively impacting sales. Since the first 3 natural (non-pay per click) search results on any given Google search get the majority of the traffic, changes were needed to improve the positioning of their products. Since the Google algorithm changes rewarded current and timely content, the company decided to pursue a content strategy using their blog as the hub. Here are some of the elements of Tahoe Mountain Sports’ content strategy:

The Blog: Given the greater value Google places on websites that are linked to on other websites, Tahoe Mountain Sports chose to host their blog on a sub domain to improve their website’s ranking. The blog enables Tahoe Mountain Sports to demonstrate their products in a friendly and conversational non-sales manner (with the exception of the occasional ‘steals and deals’ posts). For example they have ‘adventure of the week’ posts on an outdoor activity and gear used is included and linked to. Posts typically align with the products and categories the company would like to come up first in, on a Google search. In addition, the company studies their Google analytics to determine what key words are driving people to the website, then creating posts that include the most popular key words to further drive traffic to the site. Given the timeliness of blog posts relative to the online catalogue, the blog post often comes up higher on a product search than the actual product page, giving the company a targeted short-term search engine optimization boost. To greater engage readers Tahoe Mountain Sports use different writers to add new perspectives and to vary the content and tone. Blog post writers are paid with store credit and such guest posts along with news aggregators syndicating their content have helped introduce the brand to a wider audience.

Facebook: Tahoe Mountain Sports have grown their Facebook following in two ways. First the company teamed up with cause based organization Leave No Trace to donate $1 for every person that liked their Facebook page. Leave No Trace educate people on how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. Since Tahoe Mountain Sports sell outdoor gear the partnership helped extend brand reach. Approximately 2000 fans were gained from the campaign and traffic from the Facebook page to the Tahoe Mountain Sports website increased significantly.

The second way Tahoe Mountain Sports have grown their Facebook fan number is to team up with a non-profit or cause based organization and have semi-annual gear giveaways. Entrants must like Tahoe Mountain Sports’ page and the contests are typically set up to be hosted through the non-profit or cause based organization.

YouTube: Prior to the company creating a YouTube account they would receive frequent phone calls from people who had found their website, liked their prices but won’t sure if they could trust the business wasn’t too good to be true. To offer reassurance that the company is legit a cheesy about me video was created:

Creating this video eliminated 95% of concerned phone calls by making people feel more comfortable to order. Tahoe Mountain Sports also have product demonstration videos on their YouTube channel further improving their search engine optimization.

Google+: Tahoe Mountain Sports created a Google+ page to cover their bases. The company recognized that since it’s a Google product, Google will give it heightened awareness in search results.

Pinterest: In recent months Tahoe Mountain Sports have been building their Pinterest pages and experimenting to determine what works on this new platform. The company have received a lot of pins and it is driving a lot of traffic to their website.

Twitter: Tahoe Mountain Sports can also be found on Twitter sharing interesting content and engaging in conversations.

What do you think of Tahoe Mountain Sports content strategy and what tips do you have to improve search engine optimization? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Of all the innovative ideas I’ve written about in this blog, BuyMyFace.com may be the most bizarre. BuyMyFace was created in September 2011 by two University of Cambridge graduates Ross Harper and Ed Moyse. Faced with a tough economy and poor job prospects the pair created a one-year innovative project to pay off their student loans of £50,000 (approximately $80,000). Beginning on October 1, 2011, every day for 366 days Ross Harper and Ed Moyse are selling advertising space on their faces. Harper explains:

“Companies can literally buy advertising space on our faces. We then paint whatever they’d like: a message or logo onto our faces,”

Each day photographs are taken of the pair’s faces and posted onto the home page on their website. The video below sums up the experiment:

Advertising rates initially started at £1 (approximately $1.59) a day and have since increased substantially based on demand. The rate to advertise on May 1, 2012 for example is £900 (approximately $1425). At the end of the 366-day experiment the website will be transformed into an online calendar offering continuous exposure for all buyers.

By optimizing social media platforms Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and writing a blog, this human billboard experiment has been optimized into an effective advertising campaign. As crazy as the idea may sound it has been a big success. Robert Dinsey from Altitude Solutions Ltd. sums up his company’s results from using BuyMyFace:

 “The two days we sponsored through BuyMyFace remain the highest traffic levels our website has experienced this year, with a massive concentration of new visitors.”

Some of the sponsoring companies have sent Ed and Ross to fun innovative places to generate greater buzz. For example Altitude Solutions sent the pair Skydiving. While one of BuyMyFace’s biggest sponsors Ernst and Young sent them on a ski trip, which the pair documented in a youtube video:

Unique daily website hits have reached as high as 8,500 a day. With the website receiving press from all over the world. Harper and Moyse have also received job offers for when the project is over. Better still advertising revenues as of April, 15 2012 cover 69% of the pair’s student loans, putting them well on track of reaching their target.

While BuyMyFace could definitely use a Pinterest account to generate further traffic, the idea seems to have working exceptionally well. For more information on this quirky campaign check out the BuyMyFace website.

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This past week saw the launch of Kony 2012 by non-profit organization Invisible Children. The campaign was hard to miss and even with my hectic work and grad school schedule I could not avoid seeing mentions of the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and news sites.

So what is Kony 2012?

Kony 2012 is a campaign to increase awareness of Ugandan LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony in order for him to be arrested during 2012. The campaign’s video has become the fastest spreading viral video ever. As of yesterday evening (March 10th) the youtube video had received over 67,000,000 views.

Why am I talking about it on a business ideas blog?

Well I will start by saying I’m not political in the slightest and as a green card holder I can’t even vote! But I wanted to talk about Kony 2012, as it illustrates the game changing power of social media marketing. In this post I will talk about the characteristics of what makes this viral video successful.

It’s shareable

Kony 2012 is informative and shocking in a way that makes the viewer want to share it with others. It’s a video you could send to your friends, colleagues and family.

It has the Hollywood touch

The Kony 2012 video is inspiring, heartbreaking and uplifting, like any good movie. It’s also beautifully filmed with constant screen changes, different settings and music. The use of the narrator Jason Russell’s son Gavin humanizes the cause further. Typically viral videos need to be short (about 2 minutes) to capture attention, but Kony 2012’s emotional roller coaster style filming makes its 29 minutes watchable. From a viral video perspective Kony 2012 is probably the exception when it comes to video length not the rule.

It shows how individuals can make a difference

The video has several calls to action and viewers are asked to share the video. The Kony 2012 website lets you copy the link or click for a link to embed. Viewers are also instructed to write to the 20 designated culture makers (film, music and sports stars etc.) and 12 policy makers. What is cool about it is that when you click on the individuals you are not given old school mailing and telephone details, but formatted tweets, which can be sent with a click of a button.

Other calls to action include donating to the campaign and buying or downloading a campaign kit. One purpose of the kit is to blanket every street on April 20, 2012. The posters and bracelets are geo tagged and each unique tag number can be entered online to show the campaign’s reach. At the time of writing this blog posts the kits are currently sold out, though can still be downloaded.

It’s time sensitive

The video will expire on December 31, 2012 demonstrating the organization’s goal of getting Kony arrested before the end of the year. The expiration date adds a sense of urgency to the campaign.

Kony 2012 viral video     

Here is the video everyone is talking about:

I would encourage you to watch and share the video if you haven’t already seen it, to learn what Kony 2012 is all about. 

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