FTC Plans to Crackdown on Bloggers

•July 13, 2009 • 1 Comment

blogger-gate

In the past few months, there has been a lot of buzz in the blogosphere about the FTC’s plans to monitor blogs and social media sites in order to regulate viral marketing and “false promotion” of products.

According to Michael Bush, a writer for Advertising Age, “…the FTC is proposing that word-of-mouth marketers and bloggers, as well as people on social-media sites such as Facebook, be held liable for any false statements they make about a product they’re promoting, along with the product’s marketer.”

When I first read this news, I was pretty disturbed by the control that the FTC was looking to assert over bloggers.  I mean, we have the right to free speech!  How could they possible control the voice of the blogosphere?

But when I took the time to research a little more, it seems as though these regulations are just looking to extend the same principles that apply to traditional “advertising” to online promotions.  Michael Bush again reports, “The FTC guidelines apply only to bloggers and others compensated to promote or review a product…There are no legal implications for social-media sites such as Facebook or marketer sites such as Amazon, where consumers often post product reviews.”

So now that I have more information, I’m even more confused than ever.  I am definitely against online personalities promoting products that they haven’t actually used or tested, as using bloggers to market a product is supposed to give said company more credibility.  However, I am a huge advocate of new media marketing and all that it can do for a company and it pains me to think that government regulations could potentially stop thousands of companies from attempting these innovative new marketing strategies.

Jim Nail, chief marketing officer of TNS Media Intelligence and a WOMMA board member, explains his point of view at the conclusion of the Bush article, and I’m tempted to agree with him:

“The thing that makes word-of-mouth marketing powerful is people believing they are getting truthful and honest opinions from real users…If people start disbelieving word-of-mouth marketing as much as they disbelieve advertising, we are in deep trouble.”

Harry Potter and the Power of Word-of-Mouth

•July 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

For today’s post, I thought I’d reveal a little more of my “nerdiness” and talk about one of my favorite books/movies and how it has been incorporated into emerging media practices.

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In a few days, the sixth movie installment of the Harry Potter series of books will be released in theaters nationwide.  While I will not be viewing the movie at midnight (as I did for the last two movies!), I have secured my tickets for an evening show the day after the release.  While I have long loved the series and read the books before seeing the movies, I had no idea that I would come across a Harry Potter reference while reading a new book about new media marketing.

In his new book, World Wide Rave, David Meerman Scott uses the story of the announcement of the new Universal Orlando Resort theme park, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, to showcase and explain how trusting your gut and listening to consumers can help you create a lot of excitement around your product.

Cindy Gordon, vice president of New Media Marketing at Universal Orlando Resorts, was charged with coming up with a marketing campaign for the launch of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Instead of using normal means of marketing and advertising, she chose seven Harry Potter super fans from popular fan sites and invited them to a “top-secret” webcast held at midnight in May 2007.  After those seven people had been notified of upcoming theme park, Gordon’s team sent out an e-blast to park guests and launched a micro-site that would give bloggers and media an easy source of information on the park.

“She told just seven people, and the power of the World Wide Rave she created led to 350 million people hearing the news.”

This is a pretty powerful message and I think Scott is trying to show us where the new wave of media and marketing is going.  You can read the rest of this story by picking up a copy of World Wide Rave or reading Scott’s free e-book, The New Rules of Viral Marketing.

Do you use RSS Feeds?

•July 7, 2009 • 1 Comment

I have to admit that until recently, I had no idea what an RSS feed was, how to use one, or even where to find one; however, I found a blog post yesterday that explains everything you need to know about RSS feeds—including why you should be using them!

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PR Consultant Drew Kerr published a blog post titled, “5 reasons you should be using an RSS reader” on his PR Rock and Roll blog and it is full of reasons why RSS feeds should be used by almost everyone instead of being ignored by the majority of internet users.  Basically, Kerr sums up RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds to consist of all the information that is published on a particular web site.  An easy example of this would be CNN.com, which is constantly updating their web site with breaking news and news updates.  Their RSS feed would display every story that is posted or updated as it happens.

I never considered RSS feeds to be something that was available on sites other than blogs but, as Kerr explains, many web sites are set up to provide this service to its users.  While doing my own research, I discovered a really easy way to see if a site has an RSS feed (only if using Internet Explorer 7 or newer!): When viewing a web site, click on the orange RSS feed icon located on the tool bar on the right-hand side of the page (beside the Home icon).  If you are able to click to expand this icon, the site has an RSS feed!  If you can’t click the icon (it will be gray instead of orange), the site isn’t enabled for RSS.

Here are a few of Kerr’s reasons for using an RSS reader to save, sort, and manage the RSS feeds that you are following:

  • You will save time!  Utilizing software that automatically updates you on your favorite blogs and web sites is a huge time saver.
  • You can save articles without printing or creating more computer files!  Create and personalize files in an RSS reader and all your articles will be saved and readily available for you to reference.
  • You can follow Twitter, too!  RSS feeds are available for Twitter feeds, so you can easily “follow” someone on Twitter and receive their updates without having to visit their site.

Kerr recommends Newsgator’s FeedDemon RSS reader and I plan on checking it out soon…I’ll post my opinions soon!

I <3 Guerilla Marketing

•July 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Click the image to visit the Old Hat Creative Blog for some great examples of guerilla marketing campaigns!

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Enjoy the awesome marketing and check back soon for a new post!

Linkedin…or out?

•July 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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The incredible popularity of online social networking sites has been noticed, observed, and analyzed by marketers and most of these outlets (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) are now being used to market companies and the products/services that they sell or provide to the public.  I like to think that I am somewhat savvy when it comes to utilizing social networking sites and I use several of them personally and for professional purposes.

As a professional female in my mid-20s, I think I am pretty typical with the time I spend on social networking sites.  I am very active on Facebook and marginally active on Twitter.  While I have a profile on MySpace, it is often idle and I only log into my account about once a month.  I have a pretty solid grasp on how to use Facebook and Twitter for both professional and personal means…but the one social media site that I would like to use in a more effective manner is Linkedin.

Linkedin is professional networking site that allows people to connect with current, past and potential co-workers and employers.  Linkedin can be used to stay connected with people you know; even more importantly (especially in these economic times), it can be used to make new professional connections and “network” with people in your industry using a virtual platform.

I have a Linkedin account with 58 connections and a relatively robust profile.  While I enjoy being virtually connected with people I have worked with in the past and those I work with at my current job, I haven’t really found that Linkedin has any added benefits that other social networking sites don’t provide.  I continue to use the site because I like the fact that it was created solely for professional networking; however, I haven’t really seen much interaction on the site other than receiving invitations to “connect” with other professionals.

The following is a quote from an article found on Yahoo! titled, “The Value of Linkedin: It’s About the Contacts”:

“I believe that LinkedIn gets a bad rap around the Web. Many people determine the effectiveness of LinkedIn based on the number of great job offers they receive from LinkedIn contacts. Because you may not receive great job offers from your LinkedIn contacts doesn’t mean the LinkedIn is not useful…Overall, the value of LinkedIn is not the number of ‘good’ job offers you receive, it’s the value of the information you make available for your contacts to see and the value of having up-to-date contacts in the business world and those contacts not just being limited to individuals in your company or field.”

This quote is a great way to look at this particular online network.  It is hard to quantify the positive effects that Linkedin has on my professional life as it is very hard to pinpoint how many times I have used my “contacts” to help my career.  As I continue to delve into the world of social networking and emerging media, I will be looking into new and improved ways to utilize Linkedin as the great professional networking site that it has been designed to be.

Free Market Research Here (…just read a blog!)

•June 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

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In the Web 2.0 world that we find ourselves in today, it is basically impossible for companies, especially those with a public presence, to stop consumer chatter from spreading around the internet…especially if the topic is negative.  Today’s consumers thrive on being able to contribute to the conversation with their own personal views and opinions on an organization and its products and/or services.  The thought of losing control of messaging about your particular organization and product is incredibly scary for the majority of the marketplace…however, monitoring and even participating in online consumer conversations is quite possibly the best resource for consumer research available today.

 “…consumers now have at their disposal a highly effective soapbox by which to share their brand experiences and opinions, positive or negative, regarding any product or service…As major companies are increasingly coming to realize, these consumer voices can wield enormous influence in shaping the opinions of other consumers—and, ultimately, their brand loyalties and purchase decisions.” –The Aberdeen Group

While consumer generated content can most certainly provide a negative view of a company and its products/services, monitoring negative consumer opinion is the best way to learn how to foster positive and loyal consumer behaviors.  A fellow classmate of mine brought a great example to light this week as we were discussing the topic of unofficial, consumer-generated company blogs.  RIMarkable is the “Official, unofficial Blackberry Weblog” and it is written by consumers for consumers.  This blog provides Blackberry news, sales, and other general info as well as providing Blackberry users a forum with which to discuss their beloved handheld devices.

 My classmate pointed out a specific post on this blog that would have been of great use to Research in Motion, the creator and manufacturer of Blackberry.  The post read as follows (click image to visit RIMarkble site):

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If Research in Motion is doing their job, they will be monitoring this blog, and any other Blackberry focused consumer blogs, in order to obtain and record valuable information like this.  Information that is this honest and directly from the consumer should be considered gold to businesses today and they need to leverage the consumer-driven nature of Web 2.0 in order to remain competitive in today’s marketplace.

Can Social Media Change the World?

•June 23, 2009 • 2 Comments

Just when we thought that social media was being completely taken over by the Aston Kutcher-Oprah Winfrey-big business CEO’s of the world, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.  It makes sense to me that social media should be utilized to raise awareness (and money!) for social issues such as poverty, hunger, domestic abuse, etc. but we are far from the time when non-profit organizations will be able to thrive from the donations and awareness raised by utilizing emerging media.

Casey Golden, an entrepreneur from Washington D.C., explains the importance of using social media to gain attention by gaining trust…a value that is incredibly important when talking about raising awareness and support for social causes:

“If I need 100 supporters, I focus my message on 10 people who really trust me, and who I believe will then take my message to 10 others, who will then share my message with 10 others, and so on. Social Media simplifies this sort of storytelling, allowing companies to build true supporters, instead of continuing to broadcast their message to a widespread audience of skeptics.   Trust and sincerity are the keys to success in social media.” (Click here to read the full article from the Washington Post.)

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My favorite example of how social media has been used for good instead of evil, and to great success, is Twestival.  Twestival was founded in 2008 by a group of Twitter aficionados in London and was started as a way for Twitter users to meet offline and use their online influence to foster a sense of community and raise money for a worthy cause. 

The chosen recipient of monetary donations from Twestival was charity:water, which is a non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations by funding sustainable clean water solutions in areas of greatest need.”  Awareness for Twestival was raised through tweets and a global community was born. (Twestival tweets said: “p $5 @twestival to support charity: water. Donate here and retweet! http://insertcityhere.twestival.com”)

On February 12, 2009, over 200 cities held their own Twestival and the Twitter community raised an unprecedented $250,000.  This money will be used to complete 55 projects in Africa that will provide clean drinking water for over $17,000 people. 

I guess it really does “take a village” to do something great…and it’s inspiring to know that social media can be the catalyst for such an incredible project.

To read more about Twestival, click here.  Make sure to find a Twestival in a city near you!