November 04, 2008

Listening to Conversations About Social Media While Waiting in Line to Vote

By Li Evans

Voting Line in Limerick, PAI stood in line 30 minutes to vote this morning.  I've NEVER had to do that.  The line trailed out of the township building, turned down the sidewalk, then turned again and trailed into the parking lot back behind the township building.  I snapped the picture you see here, while standing in line waiting.  Then a poll worker came out and started to direct those people who's last names were A to G, my luck was good then!

They had made three separate lines for voters - A-G, H-R, S-Z, that seemed to ease up the lines a bit, but they still were out past the sidewalk and into the parking lot when I left after voting.

I live in one of those counties that is on the fringe of Philadelphia, traditionally these areas lean Republican.  I stood in line, and it could have just been my timing, but what I heard was amazing to me.  People actually talking about this candidate's website, or that candidate's video, and even a mention or two of MySpace pages.

The people in line weren't college age people either, we're talking 30 and above, and even 50 and above.  I had to rub my eyes to believe what I was seeing and hearing.  These people in line were talking about online social media sites, in a total offline environment and how those sites affected how they saw the candidates and the information they pulled from it.

If there's any proof to me that this election has put a spotlight on social media to the general public, standing in a voting line today was it!  Talk about word of mouth marketing at its finest!

October 26, 2008

Twitter As a Terrorist Tool?

By Li Evans

Terrorism Cartoon by I was doing my normal reading of the main stream media sites - CNN, MSNBC and FoxNews and my eyes got a glimpse of a headline that contained the word "Twitter" in it, so of course, curiously I clicked on it. 

"U.S. Army Says Blogging Site 'Twitter' Could Become Terrorist Tool"

*blink*  ..... *crickets* ..... *blink*

Wow, really?!  A terrorist tool?  Now I don't know about you folks, but I tend to give terrorist a little more credit in the secret and brains department.  Ideally these folks don't want ANYONE knowing what they are up to right?  I mean seriously, a terrorist tool?

According a a report by the Agence France-Presse news agency, the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion contains a chapter entitled “Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter,” which expresses concern over the increasing use of Twitter by political and religious groups.

Am I wrong, are we not in America?  Seriously, isn't this they way that grassroots efforts are suppose to work?  They use tools to communicate a like minded message and join together for a common cause.

I think what the government is missing, very clearly here, is the way social communities police themselves.  If there's a crazy person in the group, or on the channel or in the forum, or espousing crap from their blogs, people either do two things 1) Ignore Them or 2) Look at their blog for the next crazy thing they are saying and laugh.

Twitter is already used by some members to post and/or support extremist ideologies and perspectives,” the Army report said.

Most normal human beings can spot a whack job a mile a way.  At least the type of whack jobs this report is describing.  These whack jobs can say whatever they want on twitter, it's just like they can print whatever they want, too.  It's just like those people with the weird hairdos and clothese at the airport that are selling flowers, or those Scientology members passing out fliers on Market St. in San Francisco.  Unless you want to listen to the music or read the message, you trash the communication device or ignore it altogether - you just don't listen to it.

Hugh_macleod_cool_sheep_cartoon The article goes on ..... "The blogging service and social networking site has previously sent out messages known as “Tweets” faster than news organizations during such major news events as the July Los Angeles earthquake and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis."

I guess they forget to give credit to Scoble for getting a tweet about the earthquakes in China.  I guess they also missed that Beth Kanter raised over $2,500 dollars for Cambodian Children, in an hour live from Gnomedex.  I guess they missed the thousands of other great things Twitter's been used for and to spread the word about in an instance? 

Maybe Joe the Plumber should tweet his questions to the candidates, and then maybe it'll be worth the candidates mentioning how great Twitter is, instead of our government labeling it a terrorist tool?

What say you?

October 05, 2008

Getting Your Audience to Listen - Turning the Mundane Into Extraordinary

By Li Evans

Airlinestewardess "Attention ladies and gentleman, if you would reach forward into the pocket in front of you and pull out the safety instructions card, we will now go over the safety features of this aircraft....."

How many times have you heard that?  How many times do you tune it out?  How many times have you put your headphones on and turn up your iPod (if you're still sitting at the jetway), concentrate more on chapter 4 of the book you brought on board to read, put the ear plugs in and drift off to sleep as soon as that steward picks up that telephone intercom and starts reciting that safety speech on any major airline that you travel today?

"In the event of a water landing, your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device...."

Continue reading "Getting Your Audience to Listen - Turning the Mundane Into Extraordinary" »

August 13, 2008

When Blogging & Reviewing Can Get You Banned from a Cruise Line

By Li Evans

Biggest WhinerHave you ever been on a cruise where someone complains about every little thing?  Maybe the ice cubes aren't cold enough?  They didn't like the free gift they got each night, or maybe those towels weren't properly folded into a perfect swan?  Maybe the captain's bow tie wasn't tied right at dinner?

In search, we all know the power of the written word.  As bloggers we know the value and the impact a review can have.  Just look at how tech companies bow at Michael Arrington's feet to have him review their products, services or websites for TechCrunch, as an example.  TechCrunch's opinion can make or break a website or service.

But what about those customers who never seem happy, never easy to please, and always seem to complain just to get the next freebie, percentage off or deep discounted vacation?  What about those customers who always use the written review as a "weapon"?  Do business have the right to fight back?  Can they?  How in the world do you fight back from a customer who seems like a "troll", who's word jeopardizes your business?

Continue reading "When Blogging & Reviewing Can Get You Banned from a Cruise Line" »

August 12, 2008

Online Marketing Tips Video: Utilizing Yelp for Small Business Marketing

By Li Evans

If you haven't noticed, things have been a little bit slow here on SMG, since I'm the main writer here, it gets kind of hectic when your family life gets thrown into turmoil at the drop of a hat, somethings have to take a back burner.  We all know that, so I won't drone on about that point.  Things though are getting better, so regular posts should be returning!

First up, our Tuesday's Online Marketing Tips video!

This week I'm talking about Yelp and how small businesses can utilize key features of Yelp to help to market themselves.  From making sure your information is right to asking for a reviews, these 5 tips can help just about any small business involved in some kind of service industry, market themselves a bit further online.


Also note, there's a bit of a difference in the video this time around.  Different camera, different shooting style and the 5 tips listed after the discussion.  With this new camera, you might see a few different formats till we decide on what works best. :)

Video transcript after the jump....

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips Video: Utilizing Yelp for Small Business Marketing" »

June 10, 2008

Online Marketing Tips Video: Business Tips for Twitter

By Li Evans

It's that time of week again, and this week, our Tuesday's Tips in Online Marketing is featuring some more Twitter Tips, but this time more geared towards how businesses can utilize Twitter in the best ways possible.

Even though Twitter does have it's issues, lately its been down time and really limiting requests, it definitely has begun to make it's way into the mainstream and companies and small businesses alike are looking for some tips in how to use Twitter.


We've also put in a new area in our navigation that features the videos each week, small descriptions with players from various video sharing sites out there, so check out the Online Marketing Videos page here at SMG.

Full video transcript after the jump....

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips Video: Business Tips for Twitter" »

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 29, 2008

NonProfits Can Benefit from Social Media, Just Ask Mara Triangle

By Li Evans

Elephant at Mara Triangle, KenyaSometimes as global audiences we get inundated with "causes" that we ignore those "Donate" buttons because we see them over and over again.  Unfortunately for Non-Profits, the offline blindness they have to overcome has now really become the same issues online.  What's worse is that some of these non-profits are getting bad advice about just starting up websites and "they will come".  I'm sorry to break this to the non-profits, just building a static website anymore - won't cut it.

Today I stumbled across the story of the Mara Triangle thanks to Twitter's blog (see even when they are down, they are still good for something!).  What's the Mara Triangle you ask?  Well, it's a wildlife park in Kenya which under the management of the Mara Conservancy helps to protect the wildlife from poachers.  Poachers are one of the biggest threats to the wildlife in this area, and with the conservancy in place, they are able to employ rangers to help protect the animals from these poachers.

Up until last year, none of these rangers had likely even touched a computer.  Up until last year, the park solely ran off of the entrance fees to the park.  Up until last year, Kenya as a country was pretty stable. 

That all changed until this year's election when political unrest erupted and put the entire tourism industry in Kenya into complete and utter chaos.  With no one coming to visit Kenya or the Mara Triangle, funds started to run out, fast. 

Enter William Deed, prior to helping the Mara Conservancy, he lead what he pretty much terms as a "bored with his lot" life and started his own blog about Waiting in Line.  That caught the eye of famed Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey and his son-in-law, Emmanuel De Merode who run Wildlife Direct.  They tasked William with building blogs and getting the word out about the different wildlife projects under Wildlife Direct.

Giraffes at Mara Triangle in KenyaIn February Mara Triangle's blog launched.  It was a slow build, but through word of mouth, news of this blog and what the rangers were doing started to spread.  The blog's chief contributer is Joseph Kimojino a ranger in the park.  He blogs just about every day, which is an amazing feat when you learn that he just click a mouse for the first time back in November.

What makes this story even more compelling?  Joseph isn't just blogging!  Joseph tweets on Twitter, he uploads photos just about everyday to Flickr, he loads videos to Vimeo and even helps to maintain the Facebook cause.

Likely though what caught the eye of Wired magazine is the use of Twitter.  It's also what caught my eye, and got me to click around and just be really amazed and excited.  There use of many different parts of social media just impressed me and made my jaw drop - photos like their's usually tend to do that.  I felt compelled enough by the story they conveyed to give a monthly donation.

Social media when used in the right way can convey compelling stories.  Whether its a blog, photos or even videos, social media allows emotions to be conveyed in ways no piece of paper or static website can.  Combining these powerful tools together can result in truly wonderful stories people just feel compelled to take up a cause for (or even buy a product or service).

Are you telling your non-profit's story in a compelling way?  Does your story touch your audience in a way like the Mara Triangle did me?

May 28, 2008

Who's In Your Audience or Community?

By Li Evans

Who's in Your Audience?Knowing who's in your audience or your community can save a substantial amount of money, time and other resources when planning out your online marketing strategy.  It's rare to find a substantial amount of users on the internet at the same place in their use of the internet whether its search, social communities or word of mouth.  However if you know the types of audiences there are, and can group them, and know by demographics where they generally fall it can save you a lot of sweat and tears in the long run.

Take for example the demographic of a 35-44 year old woman in the United States.  Do you know where she hangs out?  Do you know what types of communities she participates in, or does she even participate at all?  Does she do a ton of research, looking at ratings and review sites before she makes the decision to buy, or make a reservation?  Doe she actively create blogs, or is she more likely to participate and promote news stories, or be a "tagger" in a social bookmarking community?  If you sold shoes, designer purses, interior decorating supplies, electronic gadgets or had a line of luxury cruises you just might want to figure that out before you spend a ton of money starting a community that this demographic just might not readily participate in, or spending thousands on a PPC campaign they won't pay attention to.

In reading the book Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, they identify 6 types of audiences with social communities, but when you take into account that there's also search and there's also word of mouth to deal with in online marketing campaigns, there are a lot of other ways you also need to look at an audience. Charlene and Josh identify the Creator, Critic, Collector, Joiner, Spectator and Inactives. By the names alone you can get a feel for the types of participants these classifications are.

As an online marketer who tries to look at all strategies even beyond social media, trying to include and strategize for, you know a true online marketing strategy doesn't just include social media.  An online marketing strategy includes SEO, PPC, Social Media and even Word of Mouth.  With  that in mind there are more segments of an audience to take into account when you begin to strategize.

  • The Audience Members?Brand Evangelists: These people LOVE you.  They love your products, your services, they even love the janitor that cleans your desks at night.  To them, you basically walk on water.  They will tell everyone and anyone how great you are, they gush about how you sent them a Christmas card, and will tattoo your logo on their bicep.

  • Promoters: Almost as loyal as the Brand Evangelist, however, these people promote you and most people listen.  They aren't taken as wild and deranged fans by their friends, when these people talk, their friends listen.  Here's a tip, make your promoters valuable, empower your promoters, by giving them the tools to make their words, more than just words.

Continue reading "Who's In Your Audience or Community?" »

May 22, 2008

What American Idol Can Teach You About Marketing

By Li Evans

American_idol_top_3_season_7 I'm not an American Idol watcher.  But as a marketer, and one who loves social media and word of mouth marketing, there's nothing greater than seeing this powerhouse show in action.  Some of the time, the "Wisdom of the Crowds" works out, sometimes it does not.  Sometimes the crowds are with the judges and sometimes, the judges are just so way off base (and I'm not talking about Paula's weird & wacky actions).

This year was the first year I have actually not seen one episode of American Idol.  Usually I at least watch the first few episodes that feature the rather "quirky" performance, hey they turned out William Hung, so it can't be that bad, right? It's it's not unusual that William Hung's awful talents grab the nation by storm, he had a story, his story was "hey I gave it my best shot" and "thank you".  Two things that seem so rare on the entertainment world.

David Cook was this year's American Idol winner.  Interesting thing about it this year was that all three judges (that'd be Scowling Simon, Ever-So-Cool Randy and Whacky Paula ) the night before pretty much were crowning David Archuletta as the winner.  However, the crowds had a lot to say, 97 million votes later David Cook's story and talents appealed to the masses more than his 17 year old competitor's.

The thing that makes American Idol such a powerhouse, and such a "sensation" year after year, is that it's good at telling stories.  So good that sometimes it's the stories behind the contestants that propel the winner into the top categories, or even to fame if they don't win.  Sometimes those stories help the contestant win the hearts of their local audiences, too, as in the case of Temptress Browne of Philladelphia.

Continue reading "What American Idol Can Teach You About Marketing" »

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