March 02, 2009

Skittles & Social Media - Obviously a Company that Doesn't Get It

By Li Evans

Via Mashable this morning, I found out that Skittles changed its homepage.  Now, normally this wouldn't be news, no more than launching a new site.  But here's the kicker, they changed their homepage to a Twitter stream about Skittles.

Now, at first glance this may seem really neat, but let's dig underneath the surface here a bit.

  • Does Skittles control the @Skittles account?  Nope!

  • Does Skittles actively participate in discussions on Twitter?  Nope!

  • Does Mars, Inc., its parent company participate on Twitter?  Nope!

Now on the surface, this may seem really cool and hip, using this new trendy service Twitter, in an unusual way.  Heck it's having word of mouth effects - people are talking about this.  Unfortunately in due time this could turn around and create a big PR problem for Skittles & Mars, Inc..


They are just pulling up a stream on Twitter that references people using the word "Skittles" in their tweets.  This leaves the company's home page ripe for Twitter spamming, and worse, for people to make a mockery of the Skittles brand.  In due time this could create a nightmare for Mars, Inc, if people continue to take advantage that their tweets are now on display for a national audience.

For example, take a look at what I caught on this screen capture below (my apologies if this offends anyone, please be forewarned there are offensive words in this screen capture, that is not my intent and that tweet does not reflect my own feelings), or this tweet that appeared as well (again, can be offensive to some).


Skittles doesn't even offer anything into the conversation.  Twitter users know that twitter is about discussions.  They don't even have a Twitter account to hold a conversation - at this juncture in time.  If they did, I'm hard press to find it - and they aren't advertising it.

I'm sure usability folks could have a field day with this latest revamp of the Skittles site too, to replace it with a twitter stream and have a javascript piece follow you down the page for navigation, just begs for a usability expert to rip it to shreds.  Add in the box that demands you agree to their terms, and another annoying box about typing in some URL before you can even navigate off the twitter stream into Skittles other pages, wow, just a nightmare.

This isn't social media folks, seriously, for it to be social media, Skittles has to be engaging in the conversation, and they aren't. If they were truly into social media, they'd have a Twitter account, engage in the conversation, much like @Maggiano's is or @WholeFoods or @Zappos.    What skittles has done has gotten other people to talk about Skittles, at this point in time early in the convo they haven't spoken, so it's all one sided.  Social Media requires a conversation (them talking with people), this, is just basically an electronic billboard on the web that says "look who using the word Skittles!" 

Its a unique billboard I give them that, but that's about it.

One last point, Mars, Inc. should think about, too. Twitter, on a good day, can't handle the traffic it has reliably (it's getting better), so Skittles will be at the mercy of Twitter for its exposure.  I don't know if I'd want to bank my brand's exposure on it like this.

December 03, 2008

Online Marketing Tips Video: Engaging Your Audience

By Li Evans

I know it'd Wednesday, but still working on fixing the kinks with my software.  Let me tell you, Adobe CS4 Premiere Pro is a memory hog!  More so than CS3 - big difference.  I wrestled with things till very late last night and decided to finish it up today. 

This week we've got 3 tips on how to Engage Your Audience.  Whether its your blog, your community or even MySpace or Facebook, these 3 tips if put into a social media strategy can help you interact, and engage the members of your audience and maybe even turn them into evangelists!

Full "Engaging Your Audience" Video Transcript After The Jump...

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips Video: Engaging Your Audience" »

June 08, 2008

How Do You Find Your Audience?

By Li Evans

Boy looking for something more, Photo Credit Flickr User Poofy"I get I need to go where my audience is, but how do I find them?"

I hear that question quite often, not just in my Social Media Training Classes, but from clients and even friends who are just venturing out into this world of online marketing.  "Where is my audience, how do I find them?!"  is asked, over and over again.

The other night I was sitting in the McDonald's drive through waiting on my  fries to be handed to me, and I saw classic car, after classic car pull by and then park further up in the parking lot of this McDonald's.  By the time I got my fries and went to pull out of the parking lot, over half the parking lot was filled with bright, shiny chrome, classic, muscles cars and some antiques, too.  There was even a smaller group of souped up imports forming as well.  Then it dawned on me, I saw this happening on really warm, clear Saturday nights in the summer at this McDonald's before.

There isn't a sign promoting this congregation of car enthusiasts to come to McDonald's, and McDonald's doesn't do anything to promote it either (perhaps though they should!).  So how do these car owners who love to hang out and discuss engine blocks, chrome and how fast they can get to 60 mph know to come to McDonald's when the conditions are right?

They asked a friend.

Unless you ask, you won't find your audience.  They aren't out there with signs pointing to them saying "Hey! I'm here come talk to me!"  And one word of caution, seriously, no matter how cool an advertising agency might claim that to be in a pitch to you, don't tread down that path. 

My Dad's 1965 GTO ConvertibleAsking a friend, and receiving a response is a form of word of mouth marketing.  You are taking the recommendation of your friend to go hang out with your fully restored 1965 Pontiac GTO Convertible (AKA "The Goat") at the MickyD's and that you'll get along with the crowd there because you have something in common.  You trust your friend, how or why would he steer you wrong?

The same goes for finding your audience online.  Ask your most loyal customers!  Say you are sneaker company launching  a new soccer cleat line and you want to know what's most important in a Soccer Shoe.  Stop and ask your loyal customers "Hey we're trying to find people who love Soccer to get their opinion on helping us develop a new shoe, is there some place you go online to talk about your love of sports (or Soccer)?"

You might be amazed at the feedback. 

There are other places you can ask too.  Ask a search engine, although they don't give impassioned responses as a human would, a search engine can return a list of forums or communities related to your interested, if you ask the right way.  You can ask your blog audience, Facebook friends, or even your Twitter followers (when twitter isn't down that is) and find new places every day.

The point is, you can't expect your audience to tell you where they are.  You have to ask, if you don't ask, you'll never know that they are hanging out at the local McDonald's on a Saturday Night!

*Top Photo Credit, Flickr User Poofy
Check out the other photos in this user's photostream!

May 02, 2008

Truth in Marketing - Customers Demand It, Even Online

By Li Evans

Is There Anybody Out There?Social media is fast becoming an integral part of marketing campaigns.  The more the internet pushes the boundaries of communication and how fast it can deliver multimedia such as videos and photos, the more it becomes ingrained into the very essence of everyone's day to day activities.  People communicate in much broader ways now than they every have.

We used to have the pony express, then it was the telegraph, then the phone brought us even closer even though were hundreds of miles apart.  When the computer started to be a way to communicate (think ARPANET here), that's when things really started to expand - emails, message boards, then instant messenger soon came along.  Forums & message boards never went away, they just began to morph into communities, soon enough you had intricate profiles, as well as blogs and now even multimedia can be added in.

So where am I going with this? 

Continue reading "Truth in Marketing - Customers Demand It, Even Online" »

April 30, 2008

Twittering For Charity

By Li Evans

Matt McGeeEveryone who hangs around me or follows me on Twitter, knows I love to razz Matt McGee about not being on Twitter.  I actually find it kind of fun, because I know he follows who twitters his name.  He and Jeff Quipp of Search Engine People are battling to be the last person on Twitter.

Well, that all ends today.  Yes, both Jeff & Matt have succumbed to the pull of Twitter!

Now, it's just not any reason they are doing this.  It's all for charity.  So, which ever one of them gets to 500 followers first, the money Jeff and Matt have put on the line - both $250, will go to their favorite charity.  (Little do they know 500 might be a piece of cake after we're all done!)

I'm going to go with this too - who ever wins, I'll chip in $50 bucks too

How about you Twitterland, will you Twitter for charity too?

April 28, 2008

Want Links? Offer Free Ice Cream!

By Li Evans

Ben_jerrys_free_ice_cream Who's got the best ice cream?  CarvelDairy QueenCold Stone? or Ben & Jerry's?  I guess each of you will have your own opinion, me, I'm a Cold Stone gal - the Peanut Butter ice cream rocks.  Regardless of who you think is the best, it might be worth your effort to stop by a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop tomorrow.


Ben & Jerry's is celebrating the franchise's 30th birthday and with that it's giving away free Cake Batter flavored ice cream.  If you would like more information about the free ice cream promotion check out the mini-site.  It's bound to garner Ben & Jerry's website a bunch of links - something they'll need cuz the mini site is entirely in flash. 

Now, go find a Ben & Jerry's and get yourself some ice cream!

April 24, 2008

Online Content Strategies: One Hit Wonders or Writing for Your Audience?

By Li Evans

While I was at Unleashed, I got the opportunity to sit in on Matt Bailey's Analytics presentation.  If you haven't gotten the chance to see Matt speak, you should make it a point to do so in the near future.  Matt has a passion for relating information to an audience in a very enthusiastic way.

During SES, I let Brian Cosgrove have the honors of blogging about his session at SES NYC.  Brian's got a great summation about Matt's session at SES, which people were spilling out into the hallway to hear him speak.

Why I mention Matt's presentation, is because another post on Seth Godin's blog really got me to thinking.  Add that together with all the furor over Jason Calacanis' reported comments at SMX Social, (by the way Danny has clarified and I also got some clarification on this direct from Jason and he has promised a video response).  It really got me to thinking, seriously thinking.

Do you know, truly know who your audience is?

Are you creating content for your audience, or are you creating content for the search engines, or for the hopes of getting to the top of Digg, or maybe making it big at StumbleUpon?  Sure, these sites (search engines included) bring in, as Matt stated in his presentation, "butt loads" of traffic an links, however, is this really who you want coming into your site?

Jason isn't far off the mark, and neither is Seth, and Matt's right on the money.  Creating content for your audience is what website owners should be doing.  Now, don't get me wrong here, I'm not in the slightest way saying "SEO is bullshit", you still need the SEO to have that content found.  However, if all you are doing is constantly creating "Top Ten Lists" or insane videos, and these really don't reflect your brand, product or service - you are just going to get that spike in traffic and nothing more.

One_hit_wonders One hit wonders in viral marketing and linkbait tend to create nothing in the way of decent targeted audience members.  While viral marketing can be great and wonderful for that bounce in traffic and maybe to get a new site discovered, can you sit down and analyze that segmented traffic and see if it was truly successful?  Did these visitors just come and view one page (your linkbait or viral piece) and leave?  Did they navigate any further in your site?  Did they subscribe to your newsletter or blog?  Did they read another article on you blog or even leave a comment?  Did you even have a goal for that viral strategy to begin with, because honestly "just getting hits" really isn't enough these days.

If you can't see that your content isn't appealing to your true audience, and is only being a one hit wonder to sites like Digg and Stumbleupon, maybe you should be rethinking your online content strategy.  Do you even have one to begin with or are you just hoping that with each launch of a viral campaign, this will be the "thing" that launches you into stardom on the internet?

Write content for your audience first, they are the ones that will buy what you are selling - not the "one hit wonders."  If you don't believe me, take a look at your analytics and see how high your bounce rate is for that segmented traffic.

March 18, 2008

SES New York: Igniting Viral Campaigns From a "Newbee" Perspective

By MarySue Eckstrom

Hi! I'm MarySue Eckstrom and I'm new to Search Marketing Gurus.  I'm also brand new to the Search Marketing Industry so my blogging will be from a "novice" or "newbee" perspective.

My very first session I attended here at SES New York,  was "Igniting Viral Campaigns".  Of course when it was suggested I attend this session (by Li), I assumed my head would be "smoking" by the time I left the room!  Much to my surprise, it was not!  I actually understood most of the things the speakers were talking about.

The speakers for Igniting Viral Campaigns were:

Moderator: Jeffrey Rohrs, VP, Agency & Search Marketing, ExactTarget

The things that I learned from Bill Hanekamp's presentation were:

  • You don't have to spend a lot of money in social media, but the content is important.
  • If you want people to talk about you, then give them a place to talk.
    Example:  Content (you write it), Comments (your visitors leave them)

Edward Kim was the next speaker and he spoke a lot about the "user revolution" and the tools his company has, along with speaking about Eric Jackson.

Fionn_downhill Fionn Downhill was a very interesting speaker to listen to.  She talked about a lot of different online marketing strategies and tactics, such as blogs, forums, RSS feeds, press releases.  Fionn said two things that really stuck in my head:
1)  The Key is Free
2)  You cannot control viral marketing, but you can enable it

The final speaker for this session was Conn Fishburn.  What I took away from Conn's presentation was that all medial wants to be social.  Humans are social animals.  Companies & brand have always been part of the fabric of society and that basically social media is here to stay.

January 13, 2008

Whopper Freakout Shows Burger King is King of Viral Marketing

By Li Evans

Whopperfreakout Who would think that that freaky looking King character could give that red haired, yellow suite wearing clown a run for its money?   Well, if the internet is any reflection of how tides are changing, McDonald's certainly better step up it's game online.

Burger King's latest advertising efforts offline so sweetly coincide online.  It's really fun to see them hit yet another home run far out of the park with their latest efforts.  Have you seen the Whopper Freakout yet?  If you haven't, you certainly should, it'll have you laughing as people truly do freak out about not getting a Whopper.  I also find myself identifying with them, as I'd freak out by someone handing me a Big Mac when I ordered a Whopper inside a Burger King.

You might have caught a commercial or two over the holidays, when the campaign first launched back in December.  Then again if you are an internet marketer, you might not have being the holiday season and swamped with holiday marketing issues! Either way, you need to visit the Whopper Freakout site.  Why?  Because its much more than commercials, it's an actual video piece nearly 8 minutes long showing what happened one day when they not only replaced people's Whoppers with Big Macs and Wendy's hamburgers, but what happened when they told customers they were totally discontinuing the Whopper.

What's even more interesting, is in just one month Whopper Freakout website has close to 9k in inbound links (according to Yahoo!).  1 month, 9k in links, not bad - and they didn't pay for one of those (btw, look at who the top ranking link is), and the domain is less than 6 months old

The company that Burger King employs as it's ad company, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, is undoubtedly "King of Viral Marketing".  I don't say that merely because of Whopper Freakout, this is just another in a string of "Viral  Hits" Burger King has put out, along with being involved with other viral hits such as the "Truth" campaign.

Simpsonizeme Over the summer Burger King put out "Simpsonize Me", that helped to make the Simpson's Movie a hit at the box office.  The Simpsonize Me site has over 32k in inbound links - again, mostly viral links.  Then there's "Subservient Chicken", which helped the Chicken Sandwich at Burger King become the #1 selling chicken sandwich in the fast food industry.  That site has over 60k in inbound links - again, mostly viral links.

I have to hand it to the folks at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, they know how to create viral hits.  Burger King had better hope that McDonald's doesn't lure them away!    Until then, I'm going to happily await Burger King's next viral piece, and you my friends can enjoy the Whopper Freakout right here at SMG. :)

BTW doesn't the guy who plays the manager look like that annoying guy from the Capital One commercials - and no I don't mean David Spade! LOL

December 20, 2007

Is Twitter Really Dangerous? Get A Plan In Place Now!

By Li Evans

Twitterlogo I "heart" Twitter

With that said, I was a little taken aback by Michael Krigsman's "Twitter Is Dangerous" title of his article when I saw it on Techmeme this morning.  I was like HUH?  Really now, you aren't going to tell me Al Qaeda is using it to send secret messages are you?  Then I read the article.

Michael's definitely got a great point.  Fortunately for Twitter, most of it's early adopters have a sense of what is ethical to do and not do when it comes to "tweeting" on Twitter.  However, as Twitter's user base grows (it's now over 700,000 users) and enters more into the mainstream, not only is this going to be an issue for IT departments but for Public Relations and Online Marketing Departments as well.

This is the time when you need to add Twitter to your "online communications" policy. Twitter is not like your normal instant messenger like AOL's AIM, Yahoo Instant Messenger or ICQ.  Those IM clients are one-to-one communications.  With Twitter you can talk to hundreds and possibly thousands of followers with just 1 tweet that's 140 characters long.

Onlinecommuncationscartoon Twitter is great when you want to reach the captive masses fast.  It can also be a burden if your employees are using Twitter and do not understand the implications of one tweet that leaks vital information.  However, this burden is no more dangerous than having an employee hitting "reply all" or posting a blog post about sensitive information.  The issue needs to be addressed with company employees about discretion and use of online communication mediums.

Is Twitter really dangerous?  Only if you don't plan for and address the key issues your company could potentially have with it.  If you don't have an online communications policy in place now, get one and make sure Twitter's added to the mix.  If you do have one in place, make sure you add Twitter and notify your employees about the policy changes.

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