Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hear Ye, Hear Ye "The Oldest Form of Marketing Made New"

When something new hits, it seems as if everyone tries to figure out how to use it, what its purpose is and what new thing it can do. Many times all that needs to happen is to take a step back and find out what it's like. Sometimes the strategies used for other tools can be used.

I've spent a lot of time over the past couple months talking to people about social media, its uses and what it can do. I found that really it's just word of mouth marketing in a new package. When you take a time to really look at social media and how it is used, you begin to see that it is the same way news has traveled for years.

The earliest forms of communication traveled from one person to another. The town crier would stand and yell the news. Paul Revere spread the news of the British coming from one town to another by telling people. Social media spreads news the same way. One person tells two people. Those two people tell two more. And then those four tell two more. The number of people aware of the news grows exponentially.

Social media does need its own strategy. But it's just another tool. Many of the measurements being used for email marketing, websites, and other online marketing can be leveraged. Measurements such as:

  1. How many people possibly saw the message? 
  2. How many people reacted? 
  3. What actions were taken because of the message?
These are the questions we want to know the answers to. With this information, we can start changing the messages based on the reaction and if the desired action was taken. The same thing with word of mouth marketing. When Paul Revere came shouting "The British are coming!" The desired action was mobilization. If the cities didn't mobilize, we might have lost the Revolutionary War.

Before building a strategy for social media, first, consider what you want the end action to be. This makes the strategy planning easier.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is There a Perfect Age for a Social Media Manager?

Simple answer, No.

This past week there have been two blog posts that have caught my attention more than others. The first was from written by a senior at the University of Iowa. The post was about how Social Media Managers should be no older than 25. The second post was from the Director of Community at BlogWorld. This post was about being over 40 and working in social media

These caught my attention because I'm right on the cusp of the 25 segment, and I work with many who are in the over 40 segment. 

I do not agree that Social Media Managers have to be 25 or younger. There is a general concept of social media that the manager needs to understand. That concept is community engagement. Deb Ng, author of the "On Being Over 40 and Working in Social Media," made some great points in her post. She notes that many on social media tend to post before thinking things all the way through. This is true of personal social media accounts. The younger demographics and even some older demographics misplace the filter as to what should be posted and what shouldn't. Ng also points out that it is important for those coming out of college to take an entry level job to make mistakes and learn.

While I completely agree with what Ng says about learning how to work with teams and learning from mistakes, those 40 and older on marketing teams have an idea of how social media should work, but many times it's not how it does work. I attribute this to the newness of social media to marketing teams. There is still the idea that social media should work like all other marketing. The idea that social media should be tied to leads, sales and other marketing resources. Yes, there are times in which this works, but we must remember that social media is not a broadcast medium. We must engage with the community. This is where I think the 25 year old can add to the marketing team. 

I do agree with Cathryn Sloane that some people just have a better handle on social media. But saying that it is those who have grown up with social media is not true. If it were, then some could argue that those who have a better grasp on Internet Advertising are those younger than 30 as they have grown up with the internet.

Regardless of age, as long as there is an integrated, engaging approach to social media with an understanding of the target audience, the social media manager can and will be successful.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Facebook and Smartphones Don't Want You in a Relationship

Today I realized Facebook really doesn't want me to ever be in a relationship. Here is why.

It happens like this, I met someone on Sunday, who upon parting ways told me to friend him on Facebook. And that is how it begins.

Facebook you have turned everything into friends. We all know that once you enter the "friend zone" it is hard to become anything more than that. Facebook has setup every possible relationship to fail from the start!

Then there is the important question of "How long do I wait to "friend" the person?" You don't want to do it immediately because then you seem desperate when you're not. Enter the smartphone.

Many people now have smartphones. I am one of them. So the person who said to "friend" them knows you have a smartphone and could friend them immediately which leads to confusion on their end.

So we find a comfortable amount of time to pass and we "friend" them, but we must wait until they accept our "friendship."

What does Facebook do next? They start displaying their family members as "People you may know" because you have friended the person you are interested in. While you might know their family members, you now have the decision of whether or not to friend them. But again there is the uncertainty of, yes, you know the family member and could friend them, but does that scare the person you are interested in?

And thanks to Facebook chat you know whether or not the person is online while you are online. Enter another confusing moment. Do they notice you're online? Do they see you and are having the same thoughts of whether or not to chat with you?

Thank you Facebook and smartphones, you have made relationships more complicated than ever before.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Papa John's Got It Right

There are many examples of poorly executed 2D barcode campaigns out there. Most of the time, the focus is on these poor examples. However, there are well executed campaigns which never get any of the spotlight.

Let’s change that…

The other day I was at my friends’ house, and we ordered pizza. When we picked it up, I was excited because not only was I very hungry, I was intrigued by what was on the box.

There a barcode on the box, but there was also a reason to scan it. The biggest complaint about barcode campaigns is there is never a reason to scan the code.

Right on the box I had a reason to scan. “What makes Papa John’s better? Scan this code to hear John tell you our Quality story.

Since the documentaries Food Inc and Food Matters, there has been a shift in wanting to know more about our foods’ origins. Papa John’s took note of that and gave consumers the information.

The next biggest complaint I hear about barcodes is the poor experience. This experience was great. I took my phone out, opened the reader, scanned the code and watched the video. Four easy steps.

Of all the barcodes I’ve seen, I will have to give this one an A+!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why DQ's QR Campaign Failed Me

This morning I came across an article about Dairy Queen using QR Codes in their fundraising effort this year. I got excited! What I hoped for was to scan the code and be able to donate right from my phone.

That’s not what happened, and it aggravated me.

Many times, when you scan a code you get taken to the standard company site. I wasn’t even taken there! (Frustration level rises.)

Here’s what happened:
  1. I scanned the QR Code.
  2. The screen that came up stated that the code only worked when scanned with a specific reader.
    (At this point, I should have given up. But what’s one more free app on my iPhone?)
  3. I download a new reader to my iPhone.
  4. I re-scan the QR Code.
  5. I’m taken to a screen that says, “You have to register or sign in to proceed.”
  6. I abandon the code.
I did abandon the code my first time, but as today progressed, I became interested in how many steps it would take to actually be able to donate. Here’s how it went the second time:
Starting at step 4:
  1. Scan the QR Code
  2. Create an account
  3. Dairy Queen mobile page through Mobio loads
  4. Scroll to find the donate button. (4 links down, by the way)
  5. Loads new page, which again you have to scroll to see the options.
  6. New page loads, once again says I have to register.
  7. This step includes putting my credit card information in. The credit card information isn’t on the Children’s Miracle Network page, but it’s for the reader application.
This is where I stopped. I don’t like using my credit card when it takes me 12 steps to get what I want to accomplish.

Here’s how the process should have went:
  1. Scan code
  2. Donation page loads. Select donation amount.
  3. Enter payment information
  4. Thank you page loads.
Four steps are all that’s needed for a donation campaign. With the Dairy Queen campaign there were three times as many steps.

When designing QR Code campaigns, you must think about your user. How many steps can you have before you start losing their attention? The most important step in any campaign is to test it. Have others outside your team use the code. Watch them through the process. If they struggle, then change the process.

As with everything KISS.

Friday, July 15, 2011

QR code is to 2D barcode as Kleenex is to tissue?

As products begin to penetrate the marketplace, there comes a point with some products that a specific name dominates. For example, Kleenex tissue. Kleenex is a specific type of tissue, but when you need to blow your nose you typically ask for a Kleenex and not a tissue.

Sometimes it depends on the location you are in as to what name takes over. When traveling in the southern part of the United States and ordering a soda, you may ask for a coke. Many times the waiter/waitress will ask “What kind?” While in northern parts of the country you will receive a Coca-Cola. Coke in the south is equivalent to soda and not a specific brand.

This is starting to happen in the 2D barcode marketplace. There are many different types of 2D barcodes. Some barcodes are proprietary and are specific to products from that company and only work with the company’s barcode reader.

Take a look at the barcodes below*:

These barcodes have one thing in common, and that is they are 2D barcodes. But many would call them QR codes.

Recently, there has been a transition to calling all 2D barcodes QR codes. One prominent example of this is the recent news article about a man getting a “QR code” tattooed on his chest.

In an article on 2d-code.co.uk, the tattoo artist, Karl, said the tattoo was not a QR code but an EZ code which would hold up better through the years as the tattoo fades.

When the news article broke almost every online tech site had a story about the tattoo and called it a QR code. Was this the final push needed to make QR codes the generic name for all 2D barcodes? I believe it was.

A lot of time has been spent educating people what 2D barcodes are. As marketers continue to grow their use of 2D barcodes in advertising, I believe the term QR codes will be used more than 2D barcodes. I say this primarily because 1D barcodes are known as barcodes. Introducing a new type of barcode with a different purpose and essentially naming it barcodes 2.0 was not going to with stand the tests of time.

Two-D barcodes look very similar, with the exception of some proprietary codes such as Microsoft Tag. Since there isn’t a differentiating look to them they will merge into the one name. While fundamentally they are 2D barcodes, pretty soon everyone will know 2D barcodes as QR codes.


*These barcodes were chosen at random through a Google search.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tipping Point: Mobile Barcodes

With any new product or service there is a tipping point. A tipping point when it takes off. Before the tipping point, many people will say the product or service will not take off. They say it will die off. Some will even ask what the point of supporting the product since it’s not going to take off.

Depending on location, different products will tip and others won’t. Let’s take Groupon for example. Groupon each day features a coupon for a discounted service or product. Each day the coupon has a tipping point. Groupon calls this tipping point “on.” Sometimes the deal tips quickly and other times it does not.

Once the deal tips, it takes off. In 2010, on average there were 543 sales per groupon daily. When the deal tips, many more people rush and buy. However, there are times when a product is dependent on another product tipping before it tips. Two dimensional barcodes are an example.

For 2D barcodes to tip, they are dependent on smartphones tipping first.

2D barcodes originated in Japan in 1993. Japan had a greater number of smartphones the past several years than the United States. Since Japan reached the tipping point of smartphones, 2D barcodes were able to tip quicker there than they have been in the US.
Smartphones are now starting to permeate the mobile phone market in the US. Over the past three months 55% of mobile consumers purchased a smartphone. For the first time, smartphones have overtaken feature phones in sales.

With smartphones now being sold more than feature phones, I believe we have reached the tipping point of smartphones and soon will see 2D barcodes take off.

The tipping point of a product coincides with the product life cycle.

When the product hits the maturity stage, it begins to tip. 2D barcodes are still in their growth but will shortly mature.

Even though Google ended its support for support for QR codes in Google Places in March, Google made a move this week back into 2D barcodes with acquiring Punchd.As Google moves back into the mobile barcode arena will this cause an increase in 2D barcodes? I believe so.

There are even cities becoming coded. Asheville, North Carolina is making a move to get every business a mobile barcode.

My suggestion, don’t wait until everyone is doing it to get on board. Start now so you will be prepared and ahead of the curve. When creating your mobile barcode, make sure you have mobile content to send your user to. Websites are complex enough when looking at them on a computer. Don’t make your consumer view your website on a screen that is less than a quarter the size.