Tag Archives: brand

PepsiCo Raises the Bar with Social Vending System

Companies everywhere are rushing to engage their customers. They’re figuring out how critical social media is to their business and they’re doing something about it. Every day, I read about which brands are building what types of community. No one, however, has even come remotely close to what PepsiCo is doing. The soft drink giant is bringing social to the point of sale in a very VERY cool way.

Using the latest in technology, the Social Vending System will let you send a gift to someone by choosing one of the available beverages. You’ll enter the recipient’s name, cell number and a message to them. You can even add a bit more of a personal flair by adding a small video to your gift. All of this is done right at the machine as you’re buying your own drink. Your gift will be sent to the friend with a special code and instructions for redemption at any PepsiCo Social Vending System. Once they cash in their present, they are given an option to send something back to you or pay it forward by purchasing a libation for someone else.

How insanely cool is this? Pepsi is encouraging their community – all of YOU – to engage each other while bringing a smile to someone’s face. This does something quite important for the company: it builds a level of goodwill that is unparalleled. When your customers get that warm fuzzy feeling in relation to something you are doing, that will – in turn – build up their trust in you.

Customers who jump at the chance to use the Social Vending System are almost guaranteed to be repeat customers. Mark my words: people are going to be all over this like the proverbial flies with honey. The friends who receive the gifts are going to send some Pepsi or Dew to their friends. Soon, you’re going to have one hell of a lot of consumers guzzling down your fizzy sodas while congratulating themselves for doing a good deed.

How is this not full of win? Yes – I actually used that sentiment. I honestly cannot come up with a better description for how much I love this campaign and this huge leap into the lead among brands vying for their target audience’s attention on social networking sites.

Well played, PepsiCo. Well played.

Archive the Tweets That are Important to You

Tweets are archived for all of eternity in many different places. The problem is, there are millions and millions of them. How the heck are you ever going to find the ones that are actually important to you? Plexipixel and Microsoft’s MIX Online have teamed up together to bring you a whole new way of tracking the Twitter information that you want – when you want it. The Archivist may still be in its Alpha stage, but it is quite a powerful little tool.

Type in any keyword, and The Archivist will track tweets and archives your key words throughout the entire Twitter universe. It will analyze the data and provide you with six easy-to-understand visualizations. It will allow you to export the archives via Excel or .zip files to better analyze and data mine your results. Devs can even download the datasets of top users for any given archive to include in their own projects and applications!

What does this mean to you? You’ll be able to easily visualize, analyze, export and share tweets about your brand. Track trends to find out what people are saying with ease… and see what people have to say about your competition.

After using it only a few times, I have to say that I’m impressed. Try it out for yourself – I have a feeling you’ll be adding this to your arsenal of tools.

Disclosure and Compliance Made Easy

On December 1, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission began requiring bloggers and social media gurus to make full disclosure statements. This was done to “protect consumers from potentially misleading information.” Many of us in the blogosphere had been doing this for quite some time, as we believe in transparency. I know that I personally have always tried to be as up-front as possible when it comes to my sponsors and products I have received as review units. The same holds true for many of the people in my “circle” – as well as those whose blogs I follow.

It was pretty shocking to read all of the headlines surrounding this mandate. For those of us who were already practicing full disclosure, it was as though we were being slapped in the face. It almost seemed as though people who follow us were suddenly wondering if each of us has been getting something for nothing, or trying to “dupe” our communities. Bloggers who have worked hard for years were suddenly being scrutinized. Social Media mavens had their every tweet examined by people looking to point fingers. It was an intense time in the communities I belong to.

Even though much of the finger-pointing and name-calling has died down, we still have the FTC standard to uphold. Even though we may have already been following the guidelines, we still catch ourselves wondering if we’re doing it right. Did I put the proper wording in that last post? Did my tweet include all of the hashtags it should have? Am I being 100% transparent and open in the eyes of the government?

*Photo art courtesy of Jeannine Schafer*

If you’re one of those people who are unsure and want to have your confidence bolstered in this area, I highly suggest you check out CMP.ly. This company in no way sponsored this post – or anything else, for that matter. I met the company CEO at SXSW in March via my friend Jenn, and he graciously agreed to a video interview. However, due to some technical difficulty with Ustream, the recording didn’t save out properly. The service is such a potential godsend for some people that I wanted to spread the word however I could.

CMP.ly helps you comply with the FTC guidelines by making it simple to disclose things. There are solutions for bloggers, brands, agencies and even affiliate marketers. The company has “created a set of easily identifiable disclosures and codes that can be used to identify any material connections in your blog posts, tweets or other communications. These disclosures give you flexible options and provide you with both short codes and full text disclosures that can be included in your posts.”

Not only does the service make it easier for you to manage your disclosure, it also works across nearly all mediums you might need. Use them on posts, in tweets or via SMS messages. One cool highlight is that your disclosures will stay intact when in RSS syndication or when spread via a re-tweet. This makes it easier to keep track of than a hashtag on Twitter – or via a keyword in your blog.

There are seven levels of disclosure listed on the CMP.ly site. Each of the levels is clearly defined so that you can figure out where your post or message may fit in.

  • CMP.ly/0 – No Connection, Unpaid, Your Own Opinions – This level indicates that you have not received any compensation for writing a piece of content and you have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned therein.
  • CMP.ly/1 – Based Upon a Review Copy – You have a material connection because you received a review copy (book, CD, software, etc.), or an item of nominal value that you can keep for consideration in preparing to write your content.
  • CMP.ly/2 – Given a Sample – You have a material connection because you received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write your content. You were/are not expected to return this item or gift after the review period.
  • CMP.ly/3 – Paid Post – You have a material connection because you received a cash payment, gift or item of nominal value from a company affiliated with a brand, topic and/or product that is mentioned therein.
  • CMP.ly/4 – Employee/Shareholder/Business Relationship – You have a direct relationship with a brand, topic or product that is mentioned therein. Details of this material connection or relationship are outlined in the custom disclosure fields.
  • CMP.ly/5 – Affiliate Marketing Links – You have a marketing connection to a brand, topic or product. Through the use of affiliate links contained in your material, you may collect fees from purchases made.
  • CMP.ly/6 – Custom Disclosure – You have a direct relationship with a brand, topic or product that is mentioned in your writing. Details of this material connection or relationship are outlined in the custom disclosure fields.

Whether you agree with what the FTC wants us to do or not, the fact remains that you honestly don’t have much of a choice. Personally, I don’t understand why someone would not want to be transparent and honest with their audience. Then again, I’m not inside of their mind or conscience. At the end of every day (and every post I write), I know that I have done my best to CMP.ly.

Have you?

What is Brand Loyalty?

Geek!This is Mark Davidson’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

What do Apple Macintosh users and Harley Davidson owners have in common? Those products have become a part of people’s lives and self-identity. They feel a sense of ownership in the company. They form communities around the product, and in essence become salespeople and marketers for the product. They have a fierce loyalty, and they are vocal about it.

Ideally, as successful business owners we should want people to feel a sense of ownership in our sites and blogs. We should want our social media sites to be a part of their lifestyle. One of the ways to accomplish this is to create a sense of community and inclusion. The goal should be that our users should feel as though they are not only part of something bigger than themselves, but something that they feel they are invited to join.

It’s important that we figure out ways to promote communication between users on our sites. We should arm them with promotional tools to help promote our sites—for example, by creating a widget (clickable button) for their blogs that link back to our sites. Another example is that one day a week, we could host an open comment night on our blogs where users can ask questions, give suggestions, communicate with other users, and interact with them online. We could then additionally interview different users on our blogs, and by doing so we can take an active interest in the lives and businesses of people who are not only interested in us, but in others with similar interests. It allows for the creation of a cyber-fanbase-community, much like those that Apple and Harley-Davidson have.

We can also start looking to identify things that our users have in common and help them to make connections with each other. This is similar to how sites like Facebook and Ning help create a sense of community among users by allowing users to create groups. Another thing sites like those have deployed successfully is to allow users to search for each other by interests, occupation, marriage status, and geographical location.

Businesses could also encourage and foster meetups based on their social network—this way users can meet each other face to face. The more we can promote communication and interaction between our users online, the greater the sense of community they will feel. This is critical to both retaining active users and having our users virally market our sites through word of mouth. Mini Cooper is unusually adept at this, and have both regional and international meetups on a regular basis that are based on online social networks.

If you have a social networking site, you’ll want to make it easy for your users to invite their friends, family, and work associates to use your site. However, there’s a lot to be said about initial exclusivity and creating desire. One of the things that Google did right with Gmail was to make it exclusive. Google gave each person a limited number of email invites to give out to friends. When Gmail first launched, a buzz was created online as people actively sought out invites.

Remember, each mention of your site on a message board or social media site is a mini-advertisement. The more we can get users to talk about our sites and blogs in their emails, IMs, social media sites, message boards, and blogs, and the more we can get users to mention our brand(s), the quicker we’ll see our user bases grow and the more active users we will be able to retain…and the more customers and clients we will reach.

As successful business owners, we should want to engage people, create two-way dialogs, encourage participation, listen, and respond. The only way to create a sense of ownership in our sites and blogs is actually to give away ownership. Let others have the spotlight. Our blogs are not about our egos. Our blogs are about our audience and readers. They aren’t about us.

Your Audience Doesn't Know About You

For months, I’ve been claiming that brand is becoming increasingly decentralized – and emails like this further prove it:

My name’s Ewan and I’m in rainy Scotland, in the UK. I just wanted to let you know that I’m a fan of your show and tell you how I got into it. I don’t usually have the time unfortunately to stay in the chat room or watch the live stream but I do drop by occasionally and I watch the videos through the RSS feed in Firefox. The reason I became interested in the show was through the laptop giveaway. I didn’t “apply” to win the laptop, but I think I was looking for a laptop at the time (still am, think I want a MacBook :D). and somehow I stumbled upon to your giveaway and followed the links back to your main site and the live stream. I think it’s a pretty interesting setup you’ve got going, and whilst I find I already know a lot of what you cover in the videos, they’re still entertaining and usually present a different angle from what I’m used to. I’m actually a student at high school (17), and I do a lot of technical stuff within the school and do advanced higher computing studies as well.

Anyway, I digress. I just wanted to drop you a line to say how I got into the show (that might help you “target your marketing” as it were), and to encourage you to keep up the good work. I understand you probably get a lot of emails every day so don’t worry if you don’t have time to reply, but if you get the chance it would be nice to hear from you.

If you’re a videocaster, podcaster, videoblogger, etc. – you need to have a live presence, and you need to be pushing your stuff onto YouTube in some capacity. Your audience is still trying to discover you, but you have to go to where THEY are and not expect them to come to you in any other way.

Microsoft Windows Accurate Naming Platform

Which sounds more exciting to you: “Atlas” or “ASP.NET 2.0 AJAX Extensions?” I certainly understand the need for having descriptive product names – but I still call “Windows Presentation Foundation” by its original (beta) title. Not only is “Avalon” easier to type, but it’s easier to remember as well. Why does Microsoft suck at naming things? Simple: partners and platforms typically come before the user.

And lest you think I’m insane, think about why “Xbox 360” wasn’t called “Microsoft Windows Media Extender Games and Entertainment Edition.”

I hear all this talk about how Zune is going to kill the iPod, but… that really remains to be seen. The only thing that’s going to kill the iPod is the iPod itself. At least “Zune” sounds better than what “Zune” rumors to be. But it’s not too late! I’m willing to bet that Zune will be renamed “Microsoft Portable Windows Media Wireless Extender Networking Pocket Communications Edition” before it actually sees the light of day.

Digg is Worth More than $60m

The Kevin Rose cover story in BusinessWeek magazine has been receiving a lot of attention in the blogosphere. The cover claims that “This Kid Made $60 Million In 18 Months.” Pundits are largely taking umbrage, as collected by ValleyWag:

I agree with what some of these guys are saying: the number is wholly inaccurate. Kevin and the Digg brand are likely worth twice that amount.

  1. Community is worth its weight in gold. So, let’s have every Digg member submit their weight and then compare that resulting number to today’s gold prices. My guess is that it’s slightly more than $60m $200m. Bubble or no bubble, COMMUNITY LIKE THIS DOES NOT DISAPPEAR!!!
  2. Brand is worth twice the amount of your community. Again, let’s do some weight measurements here.
  3. Kevin’s a good guy – genuinely. I knew this from the first time I met him on the Call for Help set (he was sitting with Cat and Morgan in the chat area for TSS). And you know what? I’ll trade one Kevin for a hundred Silicon Valley snakes any day of the week. A good guy is priceless (especially in this industry).
  4. I bet any businessperson on this planet would give up their testicles (or ovaries) to have the power of Digg at their disposal. How much is that worth? Digg is just getting warmed up.
  5. Let’s just stop and think about how much revenue has been generated from the sites that have been digg’ed. Not Digg, itself – the pages that get featured. That number is likely in the millions, I’d imagine.

Now, for those who would quibble over BusinessWeek using the word “made,” I offer you a definition from Answers.com. According to them, “made” is an adjective:

  • Produced or manufactured by constructing, shaping, or forming
  • Produced or created artificially
  • Having been invented
  • Assured of success

Uh huh… so, what’s the problem with “made” here? As with any word defined in the English language, it only needs to assume a single meaning. I read it as “Assured of success.” And yes, I believe that Digg (and its entire community) is worth more than $60m $200m today. Then again, I’m an idealistic sonofabitch. Even if Kevin was a billionaire, I’d still insist on buying lunch for him.

I went back and corrected the numbers – though my position still stands. The value of both Rose and Digg are beyond imagination.

Decompressing

OMG, I don’t know where to begin. I have so many posts that need to be written, and so many emails that I need to respond to within the next couple of days. I love the Lockergnome community dearly, but I absolutely [insert stronger-than-love word here] the Gnomedex community – two separate communities with very little crossover. It will soon be time for me to elevate the Lockergnome brand to the Gnomedex level. I can’t wait. I’m drained, but (at the same time) energized. I’m tired, but (at the same time) fully aware. So many conversations, so many experiences, so many ideas, so many possibilities. Thank you, everyone.