Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Download from Explore & Engage, Part Two


Shortly after Brian Solis “blew our minds” with his theories on social media engagement, Jason Falls took the stage.  Jason has led a national advertising agency’s interactive and social media efforts and has consulted with a wide variety of brands.

His blog, Social Media Explorer, offers insights, opinion and learning around the world of social media marketing, online communications, conversational marketing, digital marketing, public relations, community building and branding.

Jason began with some tips on what you should know before you get started:

  • Know your audience
  • Have goals
  • Build a content strategy
  • Choose the right tools
  • Implement and activate

He then dove in to an overview of the various social media tools available for measuring and monitoring influence. Here’s a list of some of the tools he mentioned:

Social CRM Solutions
Sendible, Reportive, Xobni, SproutSocial, Jitter Jam, Surveys

Free Social Media Monitoring Tools
Google Alerts, Twitter Search, Social Mention, People Browsr, IceRocket, uberVu, Board Tracker

Paid Monitoring
Alterian SM2, Lithium, Radian6, Sysomos, Trackur, Visible Technologies

Online Market Research
Spiral16, ConsumerBase, Listen Logic, Crimson Hexagon, Collective Intellect, Motive Quest, Neilsen Online, Cymfony

Influencer Tools
Alltop, Listorious, Twitalyzer, Klout, mBlast, BlogDash, Traackr

I’ve used several of these tools, but there were many that I was not familiar with and am planning to research over the next few weeks. I’ll share my experiences with them as I do.

Unfortunately I had to leave before hearing the rest of Jason’s presentation and the Q&A which followed, but I walked away with a new perspective on social media.

Overall, Social: IRL did a great job with Explore & Engage. The event lived up to its name and provided an in-depth look at the current social media landscape along with strategic approaches to engagement.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Download from Explore & Engage, Part One

I was fortunate to attend Social IRL’s Explore & Engage event with Brian Solis and Jason Falls earlier this week.  There was so much information shared that it was literally hard to keep up and for that reason, I’m splitting this blog into two parts.

So, let’s start with Brian Solis, principal at Altimeter Group and author of Engage. I’ve read his earlier book “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations,” read his PR 2.0 blog and followed him on Twitter for the past several years. In some ways, I felt like I already knew him but it was cool to meet him in person. Plus, I received a copy of his newest book. “Engage,” and I can’t wait to read it.

Anyway, the title of Brian’s presentation was “Engage or Die” and he promised to make our heads explode by the end of the day.  He focused a lot on the purpose of social media and how we must approach it as an integral strategy rather than a daily tactic.

In his words, he distinguished between the social strategist who designs business experiences and the social marketer who executes social media. Hint: it is the social media strategist who moves up the ladder!

Here are some key takeaways/sound bites:

  • Social media must be an enabler for something

  • Business models are vanishing because of consumer behavior

  • Fast and easy is the beginning of the end of social media 1.0; you must have resonance – something that people find interesting and worth sharing

  • Context, not content, is king

  • You don't need to just market to influencers. You need to become one.

  • There is a great un-follow, un-like movement coming as consumers get frustrated with brands that don’t build relationships.

  • The future of business is defined through shared experiences.

  • K.I.S.S. -- Keep It Significant and Shareable.

  • Attention is new currency of marketing

Overall, the message was clear -- know your audience, be strategic, share interesting content and engage people.  It sounds simple, yet so many people are not approaching social media in this way and are therefore missing the mark.

If you missed this event, you can read some of the other highlights by searching the #socialirl hashtag.  Next week, I’ll post Part Two, where I’ll focus on Jason Falls’ presentation and the great social media tools and tips he shared with us.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

QR Codes: What Are They and Why Should You Care?

I was first introduced to QR (quick response) codes about two years ago when one of my clients was getting involved with this new technology. At the time, they were in their infancy and many people hadn’t heard of them much less seen or used them.  However, since that time, they have exploded making their way onto everything from billboards to magazines and print ads. There was even a story earlier this year about a QR code on a wedding cake!

QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned with smart phones to reveal more detailed information about a product or service.  The way it works is simple. If you own a smart phone with a camera, simply download a free scanner application such as NeoReader or ScanLife and then scan a QR code to access videos, websites, coupons, etc. 

There are many benefits to using QR codes, most notably their ability to bring the offline world online, resulting in increased customer interaction and loyalty. They are also easily measurable which is very important for marketing campaigns.

Many industries have embraced this new technology and are using them in some very creative ways.  I’ve seen them used in real estate, consumer packaged goods, retail, auto dealers, restaurants, and more.

Here are a few cool examples of QR codes in action:

Large retailers such as Best Buy, Sears, Target and Macy’s have integrated QR codes into their catalogues and print ads allowing consumers to obtain more information about the products featured and sometimes even purchase them with a quick scan of the code.

Automakers including Ford and Honda have used QR codes as part of a larger marketing campaign.  At the Internet Week show this week, Ford launched the “Ford Focus Hunt” which uses a new QR code each day of the week and each code corresponds to a badge highlighting different features of the 2012 Ford Focus.  Honda’s Civic Campaign is using QR codes as part of a larger social media campaign which launched last week.   

Real estate agents are putting QR codes on their For Sale signs to attract buyers and offer them more detailed information on house listings.

And, for wine lovers, wine makers are adding QR codes to their labels to provide more information about their products. For example, Dry Creek Vineyards recently used QR codes on wine labels to introduce its 2010 Fume Blanc. When scanned, consumers are taken to video explaining the vintage.

While QR codes have exploded over the last year, there is still some debate about whether or not they are just a fad or are here to stay. For now, I believe they are a powerful way to expand the reach of a company’s marketing efforts and if you are a marketer, I encourage you to experiment with QR codes in your upcoming campaigns.  

What do you think? Have you had any experience using QR codes in a campaign or have you scanned QR codes from your smart phone?  Please share your experience.