New Viral Marketing Campaigns Spread Excitement

I always like to hear about the latest viral marketing campaigns and see how big brands are trying to outdo each other.

Papa John’s Pizza Mania

First off, p-i-z-z-a! Papa John’s unveiled an online contest this week asking fans to share their special recipe. The contest, dubbed “Papa’s Specialty Pizza Challenges”, encourages pizza aficionados to submit their special recipe along with a short blurb about why their pizza is so special. Ten semi-finalists will get a chance to have their recipe tested at Papa John’s HQ. From there, three finalists will have their recipe featured on the Papa John’s menu in August. But the excitement doesn’t stop there! Of the final three, Papa John’s will hand out a $1000 budget for marketing.
The recipe with the most sales will get a permanent spot on the menu! The grand prize also includes free pizza for life and an appearance in a Papa John’s TV ad. Go to Papa John’s Facebook and take a look for yourself. I never thought that people could be so excited about pizza but as fan Diane writes on the Page’s Wall, “I don’t care for American Idol. But, a pizza right now sure sounds good.”

Honeymooning with Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn also launched a campaign this week targeting newlyweds who are looking for a good deal for their honeymoon. Appealing to members of their rewards program on Twitter, Holiday Inn’s month long “Honeymoon on Us” contest will give out free prizes. With wedding season around the corner, this is the right time for the InterContinental Hotels Group to focus their efforts on vacationing couples. The grand prize is pretty great too – a complete wedding registry!

Papa John’s and Holiday Inn are just two examples of how big brands are using social media to the fullest extent. Nike also just set a record with their new viral ad. Do you have any other examples you’d like to share? It doesn’t have to be a promotion that’s currently running.

Does the New Facebook Make You Miss the Old MySpace?

Privacy Concerns
Facebook’s privacy shuffle is not quite done as founder Mark Zuckerberg reveals that new settings will be coming very soon. Great, just what we need!
Facebook’s integrity may be unraveling as many users are angered by privacy violations, profile bugs, and Zuckerberg’s pompous behavior. A recent source reveals that Zuckerberg called users “dumb f****” when a friend asked why users would trust a stranger with their information.

Profiles Lacking Personality

Privacy is not the only thing that Facebook user profiles are lacking – what about the personality? Remember when you could make your interests “unique”? Maybe you enjoy ‘music to sleep to’ or some other obscure band or activity. Thanks to the site’s new feature, you can’t even add something you’re interested in to your profile unless it already has a presence on Facebook (via Group, Page, Community etc.) On top of that, adding an interest to your profile instantly connects you to other users who like the same thing, whether you like it or not.

Now everyone is stuck with a boring, generic profile layout and you can’t even add an interest that Facebook doesn’t like. Remember when you could add your favorite song to your MySpace profile or change your background layout to match your mood? No, we aren’t talking about the obnoxious animated gifs. What if you just wanted to simply change the background color and font? Not possible with Facebook. Although my MySpace account has been laid to rest many years ago, the new Facebook makes me miss it sometimes. Facebook’s features seem to be getting more problematic and restricting. That’s not to say that MySpace didn’t have privacy issues of their own… but still.

What’s Next?

Thousands have already pleaded to commit social suicide and quit Facebook by May 31st, will you join? I’m also looking forward to Diaspora, an alternative to Facebook, which is set to launch September of 2010.

Social Media: What’s in a Name?

In the social media world, going viral is gold. It’s hard to get people riled up about something and when it happens, the spontaneity of word of mouth is unstoppable. Today, we’ll take a look at how some notable name changes have helped in going viral. Sit back, take some notes and get ready to change your name.

Making a Splash for a Good Cause
Courtesy of this short clip, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian shows us how effective the right name can be. As he explains it, social media helped out for a worth cause in 2007. Greenpeace held a contest to name a humpback whale and raise awareness about protecting these gentle giants. Mister Splashy Pants won out above the other names and helped attract attention to this cause.

A Foodstuff Gets More Fans than The Worst Band in the World
Can this pickle get more fans than Nickelback? Yes, it can. If you haven’t heard, Nickelback is arguably one of the worst bands in the world. An anti-Nickelback enthusiast decided to create a Facebook Fan Page and gather fellow fans for this cause. You may have seen it pop up on your friend’s page and it’s too funny not to follow! Here are some other things that this Pickle beats: MTV, Glenn Beck, and naps. As of now, the Pickle is still in the lead.

Shameless Self-Promotion
Are you a fan of Chad Javon Johnson? Maybe Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals rings a bell. In 2008, the football player legally changed his last name to match his jersey number 85, in Spanish. The word “Ochocinco” is actually displayed across his uniform. There were some rumors that Chad wanted to change has last name to “Himself”. Just picture the announcer saying, “And Johnson throws a pass to Himself”. Hilarious, but no. Chad has recently announced that he is planning to change his name to “Hachi Go” – which roughly translates to 85 in Japanese.

Add Pieces of Flair

Office Space ignited our love for adding tacky buttons to our uniforms in a vain attempt to convey a persona. Let’s stop to ask ourselves, are we limited OR are we only limiting ourselves? Take some time to find your own source of inspiration. After all, no one wants to end up like a Milton… (spoiler: he’s the one that burns the office building down).

So, what are some of your favorite ways to add a little panache to your work/workspace?

Personalize Your Browser
Calling all Firefox fans! Their Personas toolbar has been out for awhile and it allows you to apply different themes to your internet browser. Not feeling any of the designs? You can create your own, of course. Create a header (3000px wide x 200px high) and footer (3000px wide x 100px high). Next:

  • Install the tool bar
  • Click on the fox icon on the bottom left of your browser
  • Preferences > Show custom Persona in menu
  • Custom > Edit > Locate image locations, apply and you’re done!

Jazzing Up Your Facebook Fan Page
Do you need to create a custom box or tab for your Facebook Fan Page? Don’t waste your time with other useless applications – Static FBML is all you’ll need. Check out Mashable’s latest showcase of 5 interactive Facebook Pages. Isn’t GAP’s campaign cute? With this application, you can also add picture galleries, videos and more. I really like how business-friendly Facebook is becoming.

Travel to Another Era for Inspiration

Sometimes, there’s nothing like a blast from the past to get our creative juices flowing. If you love vintage print ads, this is a collection that you can’t miss! Don’t know what it is, but there’s just something that is so exciting. Maybe, it’s the technicolor and lack of Photoshop! I’m not just talking about ads – literature, films, and movies can always help you feel inspired if you’re in a rut.

The Can and Can’ts of Social Media

There is much more to social media than just building up Twitter hype. Nowadays, businesses may be excited to implement a new social media marketing plan, but have unrealistic expectations of what it can really do. Like anything else, you can’t expect it to help bring you success if you don’t put in enough time and effort. Here’s a look at what social media can and can’t do for your business:

What It Can Do

  • Target your audience: If you’re looking into running ads on Facebook or MySpace, these two sites allow you to target specific demographics of your audience. This will be helpful in identifying your goals, as you can reach users by age, location, interests etc.
  • Improve customer interaction: On the surface, the point of social media profiles is to be social. You’ll want these connections to translate into something deeper but you can’t unless you can improve customer involvement. Social media allows you to do so by consistently involving the audience via blog posts, Tweets, and status updates.
  • Keep customers informed: Awhile ago, Bausch + Lomb recalled their contact solution because it was linked to eye infections. As a recipient of their newsletter, I got an email about the recall and a coupon for a new (untainted) product. Luckily, no eye infection for me! Social media can help with damage control just as well as it’s used to announce local events or new products.

What It Can’t Do

  • Have a short-term mindset: Your marketing plan consists of ongoing efforts, so why wouldn’t your social media campaign? Many people make the mistake by neglecting their social media profiles over time. Social media requires the three C’s: consistence, commitment, and creativity.
  • Replace your entire marketing plan: Although it’s successful for very few companies, a marketing plan solely based on social media is not realistic. Instead of looking at social media to replace your marketing plan, think of it as an additional tool you can use to complement your more traditional strategies.
  • Guarantee success: You may be popular on Twitter, but what does it really mean? You can’t guarantee success on any social media site if you don’t tie it back to your goals – this may be increased visits, clicks, purchases etc. Being popular doesn’t mean that you’re successful, but it can help!

How To Connect on Twitter

Your Plan for Victory
When it comes to your online marketing plan, there is no one route that will guarantee your success. The hard part comes with analyzing your brand and how you want to portray yourself to your audience. Luckily, Twitter and social media internet marketing allows you to have better control of your online reputation. One of the hardest obstacles a business faces is getting new customers and Twitter can help you get started.

A Better Way to Circulate

Don’t underestimate the power of a coupon! Direct mailing and printouts can be costly nowadays, but there are alternatives. In this example, a local chain restaurant more than doubled their foot traffic by advertising a $3 burrito on Twitter. Whereas they usually get 350 customers come in with the coupon, they got an influx of 900 customers when they turned to Twitter.

Find Relevant Followers

If you’re a local business with a physical location, you’ll want followers who are from your surrounding areas. Have more followers is great, but you’ll gain more from customers that are more likely to frequent your business. You can use tools like Mr.Tweet to join relevant communities and connect with others. Whether you’re into psychology or politics, there’s a place for that. Don’t be afraid to use Twitter’s trending topics and to participate in conversation. You can also search hashtags (#) to look at what others are saying about a particular topic. If you like something someone is saying, check out their profile. Once you follow them, you can initiate conversation and they may do the same to you.

Get the Right Attention
We’ve all heard about Kevin Smith’s recent fat fiasco. Not all of us will face a situation of this capacity, but it’s interesting to see how things played out. Twitter is good for damage control, but you can get the right attention too. If you’re an expert in your field, why not start some Q&A? Maybe you do taxes or know some good cooking tips. Your knowledge will benefit your followers and they’ll trust you. Or maybe, you’re looking for new employees. Twitter is a great way to give a shout out to open positions and find people in your relevant field.

It’s Not Just Twitter
If Twitter doesn’t work out for you, don’t fret. There are other social platforms that you can try. Facebook, WordPress and even MySpace works wonders. My hairdresser gets great business from their MySpace and Yelp page. She goes on to share that they continue to get more customers each month! If you haven’t gotten started yet, what’s there to lose? As the old saying goes, “You`ll never know unless you try”.

Are You Developing Your Social Media Strategy?

Another rainy Friday morning in Los Angeles! We began this one with the first out of a series of implementation courses by The Art of Online Marketing and Rachel Perlmutter.

Equipping Your Marketing Tool Belt
From the beginning, a very important point was made and that is: social media is just another marketing channel. Think about social media tactics as another marketing tool. Like other traditional channels, this means that you need to set a strategy in order to realize your goals. A big mistake many make is that they get too caught up in social media without realizing any success. Friends and fans mean nothing if they can’t be translated into real life.

Your Virtual Reputation
Next, when you’re present on social media sites, how do you portray yourself? Do you have a professional picture? Are you comfortable with this picture and profile representing your brand? An easy way to think about this is to think about how you behave at an actual networking event. You want to be friendly and make small talk before pushing your business cards into other people’s faces. At the same time, be wary of the people you meet and see if they are actually interested in providing you with value.

Don’t Waste Your Time

Many may get caught up in the social media marketing hype because it’s “free”. But remember, your time is certainly not free! Self and time management will help make your time spent on social media sites more effective and efficient. Rachel suggests taking an hour or so out of the day dedicated to your social media activities. Who really spends hours on end on Twitter? Except for the Twitterholics, most people will want to break up their time spent into 10 minute blocks. Sounds like great advice for those who don’t want to waste their time.

Email’s Not Dead

The topic of yesterday’s webinar was social media and email marketing presented by Peggy Hatch with Blaine Mathieu. With the emerging world of social media, email marketing efforts can easily get left behind. While there are problems with email marketing, the solution may lie in combining it with social media efforts.

The Problem with Email
My favorite point that Blaine brought up was the email is the first form of social media. Remember how excited the world was when email peaked? Who could forget the classic, You’ve Got Mail? After all, when we want to share something with friends or family, a majority of us jump to email. According to marketing studies, only 22% of internet users use social media sites to share, while a majority still rely on email. When utilizing email for marketing campaigns, marketers have problems knowing where to start and how to properly integrate email into their overall efforts.

Social Media Sharing is the Answer
According to researchers, social media is not slowing. the growth of social media is not slowing. In fact, 8 out of 10 marketers agree that these sites are a great place to extend their reach. Why not create a dynamic duo of social media and email marketing? In a simple but effective example, Mabel & Zora sees sharing opportunities in their email campaigns. In all their emails, they provide social sharing opportunities where users can share with their friends. Maybe this means posting a coupon deal on their Facebook. In turn, their friends can share with their own network via Twitter, blogs, etc. As this webinar showed, the reach of email is wide reaching. Marketers can benefit from incorporating social media efforts in their emails and users will get an enhanced experience.

Who Uses Facebook’s Marketplace?

New and Improved

Earlier this year in March, Facebook re-launched its Marketplace that is now powered by Oodle. If you haven’t heard of it, the Marketplace is a classified ads section where users can list and respond to advertisements. The Marketplace gives users the ability to buy, sell, and trade all their goods with other Facebook users.

Marketplace Features

So, who really uses the Facebook Marketplace? You may have seen friends trying to sell their used chemistry books or their extra phone. But, did you know that there’s also a section for housing and free stuff? That’s what’s so great about this application. Originally created in 2007, the new Marketplace is revamped with a user friendly interface. While it is like Craigslist in its free listing of classified ads, but it also integrates an important social factor that Craigslist lacks. Wouldn’t you rather buy something from a friend or a friend of a friend than a complete stranger?

Seeing the Potential in the Marketplace

Marketers are warming up to the market place as they see ease and convenience of its features. With every listing, you can promote the sale of your goods and services by adding pictures, putting it in an appropriate category and even sending out personalized messages. Such custom settings make it easier for those looking to buy and sell real estate. Because Facebook thrives on the social thread, word of mouth will still be important. If your friends have had a successful transaction with a certain seller, they’re likely to spread the word. Before you brush it off, not everything on Facebook is a time-waster. In the past, Apple has even posted a listing looking for iPhone engineers on there!

Comparing Facebook Groups and Pages

The Facebook Fundamentals

Establishing your presence on Facebook is an important task whether you are promoting yourself or your business. Some may find that the process is not that straightforward. The first obstacle you will encounter is deciding whether to create a Group or a Page. For some businesses, choosing both is a possibility. So, before you put your time and effort in maintaining your new social media profiles, take some time to consider the pros and cons of each:

Facebook Groups

An easy way to think about Facebook Groups is that they are like any other group or club. A group administrator is in charge of providing members with information, news about events, and more. Other members can also be appointed to help facilitate information. Establishing a group is a great way to gain quick attention for a cause or event.

Pros
+ Good for hosting discussions
+ Communicate directly with members
+ Promote with ads
+ Create events and send reminders
+ Privacy controls (public, private, or closed)
Cons
– Not given any weight by search engines
– Unattractive URL
– No visitor information
– Limited to 5,000 members

Facebook Pages

In some ways, Facebook Pages are more informal than groups. There is no public administrator and users are called “fans”. With Pages, there are more options to track visitor information. Facebook pages are similar to normal Facebook profiles. But instead of a person, these pages are designated to represent a brand or celebrity. Some businesses opt for a Facebook Page to maintain a long-term relationship with fans.

Pros
+ Vanity URL
+ Good for hosting discussions
+ Communicate directly with members
+ Indexed by search engines
+ Ability to extend your SEO efforts
+ Can have over 5,000 fans
Cons
– Cannot send reminders for events
– No privacy controls, everything is public

Making Your Decision

Hopefully, some of these points have helped clear up any confusion. Experts generally agree that Facebook Groups are better for organizing users around a cause or upcoming event. Facebook Pages are useful for a company or celebrity to strengthen their online brand presence. Some argue that users feel more active as a Group member than an observing fan of a Facebook Page. Search marketers usually prefer using Pages because of their advantages in user statistics, while others may use a combination of both.