Social Media Is On the Move

Beginning with Apple’s iPhone and spreading even further with Google’s Android, smartphones have made the Internet increasingly mobile. And tablets (the smartphone’s bigger sibling) such as Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and Google’s Nexus 7 have further made the Internet experience mobile. The major social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ have been designed to work optimally with a browser on a computer. (Twitter was initially developed to be mobile with SMS prior to the smartphone revolution but has struggled with its app strategy)

All social platforms are currently working to adapt to this new mobile world. This mobile challenge for social media has especially been a focus with respect to Facebook. Since Facebook’s IPO, the financial impact of the change to mobile for social media aspect has created serious concerns about Facebook’s viability. In the New York Times article “Facebook’s Mobility Challenge”, Susan Etlinger of the Altimeter Group called mobile their “Achille’s Heel”.

What does the move to mobile mean for small businesses marketing on the Web and Social Media? There are three immediate actions small businesses should consider:

  1. Redesign your web site using what is called Responsive Design. Responsive Design web sites are ones that will show up correctly on smartphones, tablets and computers. This is cheaper and easier than building dedicated sites (the old method.) Learn more in the ars technica article “What’s responsive Web design all about?”
  2. Focus your social media marketing on interaction within Social Media posts. Social Media posts (tweets, status updates, etc.) all naturally flow into the mobile apps as well as the traditional browsers. If spending on ads, focus on items that show up in the posts, such as sponsored tweets and status updates.
  3. Consider diversifying into SMS marketing. SMS marketing let’s customers opt in to receiving information and special offers via text messages (SMS). With the move to mobile for Internet, SMS marketing could be a nice complement for your overall efforts. Learn more with this infographic “The Power of Text Message Marketing.”

Remember, your web and social media marketing must be on the move!

Lego: ReBrick and Pin

Using the example you cited in the 5.1 Discussion forum, discuss whether this initiative and the possible outcomes seem realistic and sustainable. Perhaps you have determined that you will instead utilize a different social media tool for this initiative. What will that be? Provide the rationale for your decisions.

Lego is generally a company that is used as an example for its Social Media efforts. Lego's engagement with existing online communities and engagement through programs such as Lego Ambassadors is lauded in Charlene Li's Groundswell. Lego has also created presences in major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and has created its own social site called ReBrick.

Lego's ReBrick is intended to be a site where Lego fans can submit content hosted on other sites to share by “ReBricking” the link. ReBrick supports sharing pictures, videos and articles. Content is publicly available for all, with registration being required to comment and “Rebrick” content. The ReBrick site is operates much like Pinterest, with a Twitter-like focus on followers.

Lego makes it clear on the ReBrick site that, while the Lego Group supports the site, it is not a Lego marketing site. The desire to provide a social experience site for fans is an admirable move for Lego. The ReBrick social site is also a smart business move as it does promote Lego through fan generated comment. Yet, Lego may be missing an opportunity for both fans and its own marketing.

While ReBrick provides a great community for fans, it also creates a smaller base for sharing creations and Lego ideas. As mentioned before, Pinterest provides a similar experience but for a larger community. Lego should consider creating a dual experience that allows fans to share on ReBrick and Pinterest at the same time.

To enable Pinterest sharing, ReBrick would include the option to enter Pinterest account information and a Pinboard selection to automatically “Pin” all “ReBricks” to Pinterest. This would allow fans to share their own and found creations with both communities. ReBrick would also include an option to individual Pin items by both individual users and fans alike. For those who did not want automatic sharing, the Pin option would allow members to more easily share on Pinterest when they choose.

In addition to enhancing the ReBrick experience, Lego would also benefit from increased market exposure. Items shared by ReBrick members on Pinterest would expose a larger audience to Lego products and possible uses on a larger basis. The ReBrick pins would also drive more traffic to the ReBrick site, building awareness of the community and increasing membership and activity.

Overall, it is important for Lego to remember the most important aspect of being social: you have to go where the people are. Pinterest combined with ReBrick would help do just that.

Social Media – Let Your Fans Spread the Word!

Social Media has made it much easier to share content created by professionals and individuals alike. While listening to the latest edition of This Week in Google, guest Jeremiah Oyang talked about future ads being created by companies and fans. This collaboration on ads will continue to blur the lines between traditional media and fan creations. This is consistent with the overall concept of Social Commerce, as company and customers collaborate on the development and delivery of offerings.

Overall, I see a shift from people behaving largely as consumers to being original and co-creators, what I like to refer to as makers. Makers will create and share their own stories, opinions, videos and music with each other and the web. Makers will also recreate the same, writing fan fiction, mashing videos, remixing songs, etc. at a higher rate than even today. Businesses that embrace this trend and partner with their customers will find the value of their Social Media grow.

For small businesses that have recently started or are just engaging in Social Media, this is an important trend to consider. One of the challenges for smaller businesses is the cost, both in dollars and in time, to create original content and share it across Social Media platforms. For small businesses, the better investment is to create core content that can be shared and recreated in creative ways.

Here are some practical ideas on how to embrace the maker revolution:

  • Make your content on your web site shareable via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others.
  • Run contests and promotions through Social Media presences, inviting customers to share their own stories and pictures, and in recreating content from your own site.
  • Engage with your biggest fans and invite them to guest blog on your site and Social Media presences.

So, let your fans help you spread the word!

Control vs. Openness: Apple and Google in Social Media

Apple: The Picture of Self Control

Apple has historically been known as a marketing power house. Apple has been successful by sticking with four principles established by their marketing consultant Regis Mckenna:

  1. Marketing must be all encompassing.
  2. It is better to make the market that sell into one that exists.
  3. Influence is key.
  4. The marketing message must be inspirational.

And Apple has showed great discipline in following this principles. Products such as the recent iOS-based devices have demonstrated the importance of providing a complete experience. Without the iTunes marketplace and App store, Apple would not be the market leader in these categories. Apple has shown it is a company under control.

Yet, it is this very control that confounds Apple in the Social Media space. Apple has recently announced the end of its Ping service. Rather than partner with an existing Social Media company, Apple built their own service which very few customers new about, let alone took advantage.

Apple also shows this tight control in its engagement, or lack thereof, with customers on popular Social Media platforms. Apple does maintain presence on Facebook for iTunes, which is active and trying to engage customers. However, someone at Apple must have lost the password for the main Apple Inc profile because after over a year it still has no posts.

Apple also has several Twitter accounts for different areas of iTunes and for Apple in general. The Apple account is a fairly recent edition. The main Apple account is used for product announcements. The iTunes presence on Twitter is a bit more engaging. And the web site makes it easy to connect socially, with a very nicely done section on connecting via Facebook and Twitter. From the site, you would not know Apples was engaged on Social Media at all, whether it be Apple or iTunes.

Google: An Open Book

Contrast the control of Apple to the openness of Google. Google has become well known (and now sometimes infamous) for there goal “to do no evil.” Google even has a gone as far as to create a group called the Data Liberation front. The Data Liberation front works across all services to ensure ensure all content you create can be easily exported from Google services.

Google maintains a large number of Facebook and Twitter presences, along with the blogs, Google+, and YouTube channels it uses in its own properties. The Google presences focus on customers of services, including advertising and app services, and also on supporting the development community.

Google’s social media presences are managed by the development and support teams responsible for that area. For example, Google’s AdSense API Twitter feed is managed by the AdSense API team. Rather than try to centralize and control the message, Google has empowered each team to communicate and be responsible for this communication.

Google has most recently demonstrated its commitment to Social Media with the creation of Google+. Although Google has made several missteps in the social space (Wave, Buzz) and had some limited successes (Orkut), Google has taken the step of incorporating Google+ across all of its services. At the same time, Google continues to interact in Facebook and Twitter, showing it is open to be where its customers and stakeholders already are.

Stay Tuned

No one can argue with success Apple has seen since Steve Jobs returned to reinvigorate Apple to its former glory. And Google has shown that it is challenge in understanding the social space. Yet, time will show if Google’s openness can carry it through missteps and if Apple can maintain control or will need to adopt the more open, federated communication that is being more and more expected in today’s world.

GameStop: Engaging Gamers Through Social Media

GameStop seeks to provide a total retail experience for video gamers across game systems of all types. GameStop sells new and used video games through retail locations and its web site. Retail outlets are located malls, strip centers and free standing stores. GameStop also sells new and used game systems and accessories.

GameStop has built a gamer community on the Internet. GameStop has a magazine called Game Informer which is included as part of GameStop’s PowerUp Rewards program. The Game Informer brand is also used for their main social presence. The Game Informer site includes new, reviews, blogs and forums. Game Informer provides game enthusiasts with information and an opportunity to interact with each other.

GameStop goes where the gamers area and has an active presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. On Facebook, GameStop uses its page to engage followers through questions on gaming culture and responses to new and current games. GameStop uses Twitter to send information on new products and offers. GameStop also leverages Twitter for Customer service. As a video site, GameStop’e YouTube channel to showcase clips from upcoming games. GameStop also includes interviews with Game industry luminaries, often driven by interaction through Facebook.

My GameStop Experience

As a loyal GameStop customer, I can confirm that GameStop’s social media presence has increased my loyalty. My main interaction with GameStop is on Facebook. I enjoy responding to questions on game culture, especially those that go back to my experience as the first generation of video gamers. I also love seeing graphics and videos from upcoming and current popular games. For example, I am a huge fan of Batman: Arkham City and enjoy seeing new pictures and videos from the games as well as insight into to new content.

For me, GameStop has become closely tied to my self-identification as a gamer. GameStop has provided a great purchasing experience in their retail outlet. Their PowerUp Rewards program provides immediate benefit through its discounts and I enjoy reading Game Informer each month. On top of this, GameStop’s post on Facebook continue to tell me that GameStop gets me as a gamer. The questions and shares are in line with how I see the gaming world.

The Bottom Line

What does my “fandom” mean for GameStop’s bottom line? Buying a game from another retailer feels like betraying a loyal friend. When I see a game at another store, and make a stop at GameStop to buy it. Because of the loyalty reinforced through my relationship with the GameStop brand on Facebook, GameStop for me is now a core part of my video game identity. As GameStop builds and fosters this type of relationship across gamers, GameStop stays positioned to dominate the gaming market as the preferred retailer.

In the May 2009 issues of Harvard Business Review, David Eastman discusses the updated purchasing concept of the Consumer Decision Journey in the article “Branding in the Digital.” The Consumer Decision Journey shows that the consider and evaluate steps of purchasing are shortened whenever loyalty is nurtured. After the purchase, if the product, service and overall experience are enjoyed, the consumer will actually advocate for the brand as well as bond with it. Focusing on building loyalty between transactions both increases return business (at a lower marketing costs!) Building loyalty also adds additional value as customers become part of the marketing effort as advocates.

Opportunity for Small Business

What can Small Businesses learn from GameStop’s example?

  1. Social Media does not replace the in store or in office experience of customers. Friendly, helpful and knowledgable staff are still required to engage customers.
  2. Social Media does foster the relationship with customers between transactions. It is important that posts engage customers in a way that associated your company with how they associate themselves with your company’s offerings.
  3. Social Media can help making customers be “Raving Fans.” What better return on marketing dollar can you get than customers that sell for you?


Social Media Community: Internet Past and Future

In the past, the future has been painted as a world of flying cars, space voyages, and even floating skateboards. Future views have also focused on communications, for example, Dick Tracy’s wrist radio. But the building of virtual communities through social media platforms has not been one of these predictions.

Global CommunityCommunity is in the DNA of the Internet

The Internet of today was envisioned to be a means of communication, knowledge and even community. Marshall McLuhan, one of the early influences in the creation of the Internet, created the idea of an electronic “global village.”  The Internet was first focused on connecting researchers associated with the United States Department of Defense. This was then expanded to academics in general. The result was a greater ability for existing communities of researchers separated by geography to communicate in a faster manner.

Niche Communities are the Future of Virtual Communities

The site defines community as a social group that is bound by either geography or a common interest. For example, your town and neighborhood are considered communities. Small Business owners, people who share the same faith, and people who enjoy quilting also represent different communities.

Virtual communities can be though of as being defined in a similar fashion. The geography, in the case of virtual communities, is defined by the social networking platforms themselves. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other similar platforms all represent different communities. Members can communicate across the whole platform with “posts” and “updates” defined as public. In practice, most members communicate other members in social or interest groups. For example, on Facebook members connect with family and friends and LinkedIn with past and present colleagues.

Community of Interest

Social Media Platforms have already recognized that people relate to others in the form of smaller groups. LinkedIn introduced Groups to allow virtual communities to be created around an organization or a common interest. Facebook Lists and Google Circles allow members to organize their relationships in groups the member defines themselves. Features such of these are an early recognition that we are not a member of a community but communities.

Vanessa DiMauro, CEO of Leader Networks, sees the overall concept of community evolving in the immediate future, from the article The Future of Online Community at Social Media Today. Vanessa sees virtual communities moving from the larger, public networks to smaller, private virtual communities. Private virtual communities provide the context in which more meaningful exchanges can occur between peers. Private virtual communities also better facilitate idea exchange and collaboration.

Vanessa sees a role for marketing in these private virtual communities but not through direct marketing effort. Rather than advertise to members, their is an opportunity to better engage with customers directly through private virtual communities. Through this interact companies can both establish a role as a thought leader and also can leverage relationships with the natural thought leaders that emerge. The key for marketers is to remember why members join these communities – networking, sharing information and collaborating – and that their efforts be in alignment with these goals.

Communities have leaders, appointed, elected or by traditional role. Virtual private communities will be lead by those who establish credibility through their ability to share relevant information and contribute to conversations. Just as has been recognized in business and social communities in the physical world, virtual communities will be greatly influenced by thought leaders. And considering that virtual private communities are centered around content and collaboration, though leaders will play an even more prominent role. The challenge for businesses in this new world is continually share information to maintain relevance and currency.

Community – Continuity of the Internet

Social Media has always paralleled real world interactions. Members of social media platforms connect with friends, family and colleagues just as they do in day to day life. Social Media makes it easier to maintain connections with more people and do so across boundaries of time and distance. Over the next several years, more opportunity to engage in virtual communities around common interest will arise. And the Internet will continue to be used to connect people in pursuit of common goals, just as it was originally envisioned too.

McDonald’s and Social Media – McRisk and McReward

McDonald's Wifi LogoMcDonald’s is one of the most well known brands across the globe. Per McDonald’s 2010 Annual Report, the McDonald’s corporation spent $781,500,000 in advertising and marketing expenses with franchiser’s contributing to the this fund as well. McDonald’s significant spend in marketing and advertising continues to keep their brand at the forefront. Part of this marketing picture is and has been Social Media.

McDonald’s entered Social Media in 2006. One of the first Social Media projects was a travel journal for a publicity tour featuring Sarah Ferguson benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities. This early project was lead by Rick Wion, now McDonald’s first Director of Social Media. McDonald’s maintains a variety of Social Media presences, including Facebook, Twitter and an outreach to “mommy bloggers.”  (Read more about Mr. Wion’s background and appointment in this Advertising Age article.)

For major brands such as McDonald’s, Social Media offers many potential rewards. Social Media provides the ability to reach out to customers in new and exciting ways, including ways to leverage the brands fans to spread the word. At the same time, Social Media presents risks to major brands as, unlike traditional media, there is much less control over the message. Detractors and critics of the brand can hijack Social Media campaigns and interaction for their own purposes.


McDonald’s has seen rewards from Social Media marketing efforts. McDonald’s reported a 33% increase in foot traffic by participating in the 2010 Foursquare check-in day. McDonald’s used its Facebook page to give an additional boost its popular Monopoly Game promotion, dedicating the Facebook page to game play. McDonald’s also has expanded to the virtual world with restaurant locations in Cityville on Facebook. (Here are 6 ways McDonald’s keeps their fans engaged.)


While McDonald’s has seen the rewards of Social Media, it also has seen the downside of its risks. McDonald’s has been the victim of a Twitter hoax, where the restaurant was falsely accused racism. McDonald’s also had some trouble with its first promoted Twitter campaign. The hash tag #mcdstories was hijacked by critics and activists who used it to complain about the restaurant. Both are examples of how Social Media presences can be used counter to the goals of the organization and how efforts can be hijacked.

In both cases, McDonald’s handled the situations well. For the Twitter hoax, McDonald’s tweeted out messages containing the same keywords as the hoax messages and including the word hoax multiple times in tweets so major news outlets would pick it up. As for the Twitter campaign, McDonald’s saw largely positive response from the #meetthefarmers hash tag and quickly pulled the #McDStories hash tag, where the controversy was centered. While many report the Twitter campaign as a fiasco, Joe Pullizzi makes a good case that it was an overall success.

Social Media, like most business ventures, has the specter of risks and opportunities. As McDonald’s has shown, even a brand that is both loved and criticized can reap benefits from the Social Media space. McDonald’s has also demonstrated that it is critical to keep actively engaged in the Social Media channels. McDonald’s engagement has allowed it to mitigate risks as problems arise.