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Blogging is Booming

Rick E. Bruner
Blogging is Booming Rick E. Bruner

Millions of bloggers can't be wrong.

Despite my repeated attempts to interest comScore in a quickie study on the blogs for their PR purposes, they haven't bitten. There is, however, a small body of research emerging on the blog phenomenon, which I've set out to collect and analyze here.

Several recent news reports have cited the number of blogs being published worldwide as 4 million. As best I can tell, that number comes from a study from Perseus, published late last year. Perseus' estimate, however, counts only blogs hosted on eight specific services, excluding many blogs hosted on independent domains and elsewhere, notably those published with the popular tool Movable Type.

More recently, in late February 2004, the Pew Research Center released a study based on phone surveys of 2,515 online adults it had conducted a year earlier, which found that 2 percent of respondents had their own blogs. Based on Pew's estimate that 126 million U.S. adults are online (as of December 2003), that works out to 2.5 million U.S. adults who blog (note that Perseus' 4 million estimate included blogs worldwide.)

The same Pew study, however, noted that a more recent 2004 survey suggests that up to 7 percent of online U.S. adults, or 8.8 million people, now blog. That year-on-year growth rate of bloggers would be roughly consistent with blog research firm Technorati, which tracks more than 2 million blogs and adds some 10,000 new blogs every day. 

As a professional researcher, I take all of these numbers with a pinch of salt. So there may be 2.5 million U.S. bloggers, or there may be 8.8 million. The real question such numbers help answer is, "Is it bigger than a bread box? Are we talking small, medium or large?"

Remarkably, when the Pew study first came out, AP spun the story as 2 percent being a surprisingly small number of bloggers (CNN.com attached the headline to that story: "Study: Very few bloggers on Net".) Yet, blogger Rogers Cadenhead notes that Pew's low-end estimate of the number of blogs is more than the 2.2 million copies that USA Today prints on regular weekdays, the country's biggest newspaper.

Whether it's 2.5 million or 8.8 million, we're still talking about the number of blog writers, not readers. The same Pew study, fielded a year ago, found that 11 percent of respondents read Weblogs with some regularity. Last summer, I conducted a survey for the email services agency Quris, in which we included a question about blog readership, which similarly found 10 percent of the 1,691 respondents regularly read Weblogs (see details of that research in the table "Characteristics of Weblog Readers" below). Bearing in mind that those numbers have doubtless grown in the year since those two surveys, that is still 13 to 14 million Weblog readers. Furthermore, I would venture a lot more people are reading Weblogs without realizing those sites are called Weblogs.

Super-popular blogger Glen Reynolds, of Instapundit.com, leaves his traffic logs open, where we can see that he averages around 100,000 visitors a day and more than 2 million uniques a month. Considering that he's only one guy, that's astounding. By comparison, HoustonChronicle.com reports 1.5 million unique monthly readers. Granted, Instapundit is one of the most widely read bloggers out there, but it puts the phenomenon in perspective.

Meanwhile, Matt Drudge -- who hates to be called a blogger, but he is, so he should just get over it -- hinted to Radar Magazine last year that he earns more than a million dollars a year selling banner ads on his hugely popular DrudgeReport.

The Quris research shows that blog readers skew somewhat younger than average Web surfers, are power-users of the Net and media junkies in general, spend more money online, and consume a disproportionate amount of literature, pop culture and electronics. No big surprises there for anyone who reads blogs, but the bottom line is that this segment sounds like an attractive demographic for advertisers.

Yet advertisers, particularly mainstream ones, still haven't embraced blogs. Another study by BlogSearchEngine.com from December 2003 found that only 13 percent of 610 bloggers surveyed currently run advertisements. The study didn't elaborate, but the majority of those are doubtless using Google AdSense. There are a growing number, however, that are beginning to sell ads for real money.

BlogAds is a 2-year-old ad network catering specifically to bloggers, which lists some 200 blogs that each have at least 3,000 weekly ad impressions available. CEO Henry Copeland declined to specify how much revenue any of his customers were taking in through the system, but he suggested that more than a few were "kicking ass" through their blogs "in terms of how much they take home and job satisfaction" compared to ordinary journalists.

One of the sites in his network, for example, DailyKos.com, written by political maven Markos Zuniga, charges $700 and $600 per week for the top ad positions on his site and $300 a week for the rest. Last week, DailyKos.com featured a total of nine ads, which, by my calculation, should have grossed Zuniga $3,400 for the week. At those rates, Zuniga could afford to take six weeks off a year unpaid and still pull in over $150,000.

Most BlogAd advertisers are promoting niche products, more akin to classifieds or the small ads in the back of The New Yorker than to display ads for big brand companies. The medium, Copeland suggests, is ideal for "products that have a sensibility, not commodities, those looking to find audiences with a particular mindset."

Entrepreneur Nick Denton has launched Gawker Media, a family of stylish Weblogs on themes such as media gossip, politics and electronics (with more properties on the way). These "nano-publishing" sites (i.e., one writer per site) have already begun to appeal to more mainstream advertisers. Using traditional online ad formats like banners and skyscrapers, which are less common on most other blogs, the Gawker sites have already played host to advertisers including Jose Cuervo, Absolut Vodka, British Airways, Warner Brothers Music, Intuit Quickbooks and the John Kerry campaign, among others.

The coarse language, no-holds-barred subject matter and sloppy editing of many blogs will be hard for more conservative advertisers to embrace, Denton says (his site Gizmodo lost an advertiser recently due to its coverage of a dildo bicycle seat, for example). Blogs can be "conversational, potty-mouthed sometimes, edgy, controversial," he says.

"It's barroom or coffeehouse conversation translated to written media, and the fact is a lot of mainstream advertisers are uncomfortable with that. On the other hand, there are advertisers that want to reach the Gawker demographic: urban, 25- to 34-year-old, metrosexual-verging-on-hipster. They are the influencers, the people who make all the trends. Smart advertisers who are not going after the mainstream market have to be comfortable with the language of that audience. I'd rather get less money from cooler advertisers than bore readers."

Characteristics of Weblog Readers

% of total sample % of Weblog readers
Users broadband
53% 60%
Using the Internet 5+ years 68 84
Checks email twice or more daily
64 79
Spends "significant" $ on entertainment
34 43
Spends "significant" $ on electronic gadgets
16 25
Amount spent online in the previous 12 months
$1,025 $1,239
Subscribes to emails about books
22 36
Subscribes to emails about music
27 40
Subscribes to emails about movies
25 44
Subscribes to emails about hobbies
28 47
Subscribes to emails about computers
27 41
Regularly listens to radio
49% 59%
Regularly reads magazines
44 64
Regularly watches movies
36 52
Regularly reads news on the web
38 59
Regularly turns to the web sites for entertainment
29 50
Uses instant messaging
34 45
Have made purchases based on permission email
57 65
Male gender
49 56
Age 18-34 28 37

Source: Quris "View From the Inbox" research, n=1,691, July 2003

Rick E. Bruner is an Internet marketing consultant who blogs at ExecutiveSummary.com, BusinessBlogConsulting.com and Bruner.net/blog, among other places.

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Startups galore
New entries into the search world happen every day, and there are a multitude of providers seeking to add value to the search experience. The continued growth of search behavior spells opportunity for investors, and the Google success story has made venture funds readily available.

The newest "wiki" made news this week as a solid entry into the search space. From the founders of Wikipedia, "Wikia" has arrived on the scene looking to capitalize on a much-needed niche increase in search efficiency by adding a social dimension to finding what you need.

Guided search is moving forward with providers like ChaCha that uses real live humans to help locate information. Answers.com is bridging the gap between content and search destinations.

Social search providers and other entries seeking to enhance the information-finding experience all want to solve the same problem: nullify the presence of search engine spam content while creating a more relevant experience for users.

While the enhanced experience is a smart move, it won't be enough to overtake Google, which has plans to revamp its algorithm again in order to dull the effect of content spammers. An algorithmic enhancement to retain the user base is a much simpler alternative to launching a new search site and trying to gain market share.

Real opportunity: a simple definition
Each new search venture has one goal in common: developing a solid revenue model that immediately coincides with a value-added user experience.

Google's help with identifying astral bodies has raised some questions about the search giant's motivations. Google has offered to help analyze the massive amounts of data (some 30 terabytes of data per day by some estimates) generated by the big looking glass. Of course, no revenue model has been established to monetize Orion's belt.

Question the motivation if you will, but in today's day and age, corporate fiscal and social responsibility have become a running joke. As you might recall, it was Google's mission to provide access to the world's data -- advertising arrived on the scene shortly thereafter -- and that model seemed to work out pretty well. 

Google's power to influence access to the world's information has led to more than one critic (including yours truly) to stand up and take notice. Maybe Google's idea of leading the charge to invest in the future of the human race -- or at least to do something good in advance of generating revenue -- is the key to being number one and winning the hearts and minds of the searching public.

Kevin Ryan is the Chief Executive Officer of Kinetic Results. Read full bio.

Element 1: Own an event

Take advantage of the natural excitement that builds in social in advance of a major event -- whether it's a televised award show, a sports championship, or a major holiday. Get in front of the customer with a relevant message just when buzz peaks.

ESPN won iMedia's Campaign of the Year by blitzing social media in advance of the 2011 NFL Draft, thereby making the most of football fans' excitement that the long-delayed draft had finally arrived. ESPN's ads on Twitter and Facebook earned it seven new followers a second and performance 67 percent above the average social advertising campaign.

There are three ways to choose the right time for a brand campaign:

Sponsor a major annual event, or tag along for the ride. Big brands can get in front of affluent consumers by sponsoring a televised event and touting the connection. However, a younger brand like a mobile app startup can take advantage of buzz without sponsorship. For example, make a splash alongside the latest Apple keynote by choosing the right Twitter and Facebook media to get the message out.

Time the promotion to the buying rhythms and the context of your customer. If your target customer is the 19-year-old college student, should your big social push be at the end of summer, when students prepare to return to school, or are you the European vacation company that makes its promotions around graduation time?

Respond with lightning speed to unexpected events. For example, political teams are expert at responding to current events, and they can use social advertising to magnify their message and shape public opinion.

Performance counts, and perfect timing makes a campaign a better success story for awards show judges.

Element 2: Involve the audience

In social, ads no longer travel one-way to the audience. A winning paid social campaign capitalizes on the two-way nature of social and gets the audience talking.

Get people to talk to the brand and thus trust it a little more. When people respond to a brand in social, they buy into the possibility that the brand cares about its customers.

Request opinions by asking great questions
To promote its selection of smartphones, Best Buy asked people on Twitter, "Do you have a friend who's ashamed of their smartless phone?" That simple question generated a torrent of replies from people outing their friends for owning brick and flip phones. Best Buy's Phone Shame campaign ran well before social ad campaign awards were invented, but it would be a serious contender if the campaign ran today.

Ask people to share the brand message
Awards show judges expect a successful social ad campaign to be shared. Copy quality counts; people prefer witty or bold creative that makes them feel smart for sharing. While social ads by definition have sharing features built in, some campaigns will benefit from explicitly asking users to share the creative. A word of warning: Offering an incentive (e.g., by running a contest that requires retweets) wins big engagement but not necessarily awards. Choose wisely. Encourage people to create content for the brand.

Chevrolet went the extra mile to promote its new Cruze compact car, and in 2011 it went to bat with the fans of primetime TV hit "Glee." Chevrolet tapped the social stream to find the most fanatical Gleeks, who submitted their own versions of the classic Chevrolet song "See the USA."

Ask for different things at different points in the campaign too. For example, for a campaign building up buzz for an event like the Oscars, the brand could ask users to generate content during the teaser campaign ("Invent our Oscars hashtag"), ask for retweets before the event starts to increase awareness, and keep the audience engaged during the broadcast by asking for opinions during the awards show.

Always consider the nature of the medium. In social, this means acknowledging and encouraging ongoing conversation with customers.

Element 3: Nail mobile

No matter where you place your social campaign, brand messages will end up on mobile. Without a solid mobile strategy, your campaign won't travel far. So make sure that you're ready, and plan ahead for how users might see and share the campaign message.

Most consumers already reach brands through mobile -- either by visiting the brands' Twitter profiles through a smartphone app or by visiting websites on their mobile browsers. Web traffic on mobile has grown almost 35 percent in the last year alone. To take full advantage of the pass-along value of social, weave mobile tightly into the core strategy of the campaign.

5 winning questions to ask when optimizing a campaign for mobile:

  • How might the brand benefit from targeting people using mobile devices?

  • Can we break out part of the campaign as purely social (focused on retweets or "likes") to maximize awareness of the campaign?

  • Can mobile devices load our landing page or media (videos, songs)?

  • If our post-click experience is too complex for mobile, can we offer mobile users a bookmark or reminder?

  • Is the ad creative shareable with a few taps on a smartphone?

For example, Burger King wanted to bring the news of its crispy chicken tenders to busy moms and other family decision makers. Knowing that its target audience might not be at home to see the message, BK placed its ads on mobile social apps that moms were likely to check in their free time while out and about. The brand reached the millions of U.S. moms and family decision makers on their smartphones by targeting the followers of the 100 best family influencers in social, such as @thepioneerwoman and @Oprah.

As mobile ramps up over the next year, campaign success can be accelerated (or stalled) by mobile strategy. Just nail it.

Element 4: Write social creative

With advertising awards, performance matters as much as strategic brilliance. A creative approach validated by the market strengthens your candidacy three times more than a thrilling idea that resonated with no one. In the spirit of wringing the maximum performance out of your campaign, we advise you to write the best possible creative that you can.

These five tested principles of writing for the social stream will get you on your way.

Keep it brief
Brevity is the soul of retweets. As @leeclowsbeard puts it, "Stuffing three messages into one ad does not count as added value."

Generally, keep your text and link under 120 characters to promote sharing (up to 140 characters are allowed). For help with drafting social ads, try Does It Fit (built by 140 Proof CTO @jm3).

Be conversational...
Feel free to use a conversational or casual voice to match the brand's existing social accounts or those of a comparable brand. Your ad is in a social stream context, so let it read as a natural part of the social conversation.

...but keep it professional
This means keep your voice appropriate to the brand and use hashtags sparingly. Jon Elvekrog advises in "5 ways to get creative with 140 characters":

"In the casual world of Twitter, some users have found interesting ways to get around the 140 character limit. However, should you find yourself tempted to write "ur" instead of "your" or "fr" instead of "for," step away from the keyboard. If you're actually going to invest in Twitter ads, whether it's across a network or a sponsored tweet, exercise professionalism through proper grammar and copy choice."

Ask a question
Why does asking a question drive up the performance of social ad creative as much as 30 percent? At 140 Proof, we've seen this time and time again -- irrespective of brand vertical, timing, or targeting. Questions increase not only Twitter replies, retweets, and "likes," but they also increase click-throughs and other engagement. If you're motivated to get your paid social campaign to perform, why not try it?

Test your work
One of the similarities of paid social to search is the ease of running many creatives at once to compare performance. Create and test up to 30 versions of your social ad copy to learn and optimize quickly.

Element 5: Choose your moment

Timing is one of the most overlooked aspects of campaign strategy, but the best creatives and planners consider timing carefully. Smart timing decisions can distinguish a brand from the sea of undifferentiated ads fighting for audience attention.

In Element 1 (own an event), we discussed timing in the context of planning around a major event, but here we're defining timing on a smaller scale, such as days of the week and times of day. Brands can reach customers at critical moments, like the Monday water-cooler hour (following weekend sports events), Sunday mornings (a peak app download time), and the commute hours (to maximize fast food drive-through sales).

For example, the Victoria's Secret Fall TV 2011 campaign focused on continuity in social to support an upfront buy around TV premieres for popular shows like "Glee," "Gossip Girl," "NCIS," "Dancing with the Stars," and "Grey's Anatomy." Victoria's Secret carefully timed its social ad placements to coincide with each premiere. TV fans saw the Victoria's Secret message not only in TV spots during the broadcast but also in social apps in the 48-hour period surrounding each show. When a "Gossip Girl" fan watched the premiere, she saw the TV commercial, and when she turned to social, she also saw the Victoria's Secret social ad, reinforcing the brand's message in a narrow time frame.

Here's how brands should think about choosing the right moment:

  • When is the target customer active in social streams?

  • On which days and in which hours should your ads be seen? Has the brand identified optimal consumption times?

  • Does the campaign revolve around a local event that generates national interest?

For example, if your program focuses on an event like CES in Las Vegas, you'll develop a creative flight timed for the attendees of the show, on Mountain time, and another flight for people who wanted to attend but couldn't.

What have you learned from timing brand campaigns in social ad campaigns, or what challenges are you currently facing?

Element 6: Make the virtual tangible

The challenge of the information age is well-known: Consumers deal with far too many messages for them to process, and most messages are ignored or discarded.

Successful brand planners create strong messages that stand out from this sea of nearly undifferentiated inventory. Meaningful messages are even more important in a purely digital medium like paid social.

An effective way to create a strong message in paid social is to emphasize the tangible. Tom Peters, a thinker on design and business, describes the power of emphasizing the tangible. Peters says:

"If your product is intangible (banking, travel, etc.), distinguish yourself from the masses by emphasizing the tangible to wit, design. FedEx, for example, stands out on the tangibles strong branding, clean trucks, easy-to-use forms. To me a business system, like FedEx's, that works transparently on the surface and offers brilliant simplicity is as much about design as an iMac or a Beetle."

For your online campaign, what's your real-world strategy? If the brand is a productivity software package, what tangible thing can the marketer offer? For the retail space, is there an intangible online benefit of the brand? Combining online and offline worlds strengthens the customer's experience of the brand in a powerful way.

Real paid social campaigns that make the virtual tangible
For the Burger King "King of the Road" campaign, CP+B teamed up with Mindshare to bring the King's epic journey to BK's biggest fans in the Twitter ecosystem and in the real world. The King physically crossed the country, adventuring with fans and awarding Xbox Kinect bundles to the most worthy fans. BK's social ad creative changed daily as the King traveled, hinting at his next stop. Paid social drove an increase of 4,000 followers for the King's Twitter account.

To celebrate Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit, Gillette created a giant greeting card containing thousands of notes of congratulations acquired through paid social campaigns.

In the run-up to the Billboard Music Awards Battle of the Bands, Chevrolet sent six bands on a cross-country road trip, each in a Chevy Cruze, and promoted the musicians' tweets and the People's Choice contest through social apps.

What challenges have you faced trying to make the virtual tangible in your paid social campaigns?

Element 7: Get your hands dirty

At 140 Proof, we believe that success in social requires the right mix of paid and earned efforts. Most brands can't achieve substantial reach in social simply by tweeting, and they lose a crucial advantage when the social effort stops once the creative goes live. Smart brands get hands-on during their paid social campaigns.

When an audience member replies to a social ad, that person trusts the brand will respond. Moreover, 83 percent of Twitter users like getting responses from companies on Twitter. Brand social teams that monitor feedback can multiply the positive effects of a campaign and optimize future paid social efforts.

On the other hand, imagine if a brand launched a social campaign without tweeting a thing. While possible (and you might be surprised how many brands do it), what would happen to the social response? Brands would miss the opportunity to multiply the returns of a paid campaign. Consumer replies that get a brand response often turn into evangelism or retweets, and retweets mean earned reach and greater mindshare. Fully covering a promotion from end to end (paid to earned) is the mark of an award-worthy campaign.

The top three ways to handle campaign feedback are:

  • Thank or encourage the respondent

  • Provide links to more information

  • Highlight the most creative responses to current followers (choosing carefully enhances follower retention)

And don't forget to save screenshots of the best replies and most influential retweeters for your end-of-campaign wrap up presentation.

Getting your hands dirty goes hand in hand with Element 2 (involve the audience). A great campaign that asks for shares and responses should have a representative ready to answer and reflect social feedback. Monitoring feedback doesn't have to be expensive to be effective -- but it does have to be consistent.

Would you like to see deeper dives on any of the concepts we covered? Let us know in the comments.

Vanessa Naylon is a creative Strategist at 140 Proof.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet

"A golden first place trophy" and "Abstract background" images via Shutterstock.

The "which social platform can we ruin next" edict

"If your strategy is terrible, it will be terrible no matter what social network you employ."

Pinterest has become the social network du jour. While Pinterest offers a tremendous amount of value to users, many brands have simply staked claim to their corner of the Pinterverse, without providing any value at all. Some brands have simply snatched up their name to avoid brand-jacking, but others have made actual attempts at engagement -- some good and some uniquely bad.

First, let's pick on Verizon Wireless a little bit (we will do so respectfully). It seemed to jump in headfirst, only to realize the error of its ways. This particular case was not detrimental, as the mistake was caught in time.

(Disclaimer: The information used in this article is public information with no connection to the brand. There is a possibility the communications highlighted are, in fact, cases of brand-jacking. Nonetheless, they serve the purposes of this article.)

At the onset of writing this article, the Verizon Wireless Pinterest account looked like the above image -- a series of brand-focused "pins" and promotional items. This type of presence does not take into account a variety of components outlined in the social brand design and communication framework. Here are some areas where the brand missed:

  • Lack of story

  • Lack of conversation/curation elements

  • No clear user experience design that could create value and potentially lead users to a point of conversion

  • Lack of strategy

A week or so later, the presence looked like this:

Apparently someone at Verizon Wireless realized it needed a reboot.

What could a wireless company possibly do to add value to this community?

History of wireless

  • Historical photos of vintage wireless devices (i.e., the very first mobile phone).

  • This would add a level of storytelling that would be both interesting to Pinties (a made-up term for Pinterest users) and would be a storytelling vehicle for the brand.


  • Classic moments in cinema where a mobile device played a significant role.

  • This could open up an avenue for conversation and curation, allowing users to add their own pins.

Mobile goes mobile

  • A series of quirky images that humanize the mobile phone and show the many places a mobile phone could go, if it had the ability to "go mobile."

  • This example would invite the community to co-create with the brand in a silly, yet fun exercise in absurdity.

You pin, we win

  • A search for Verizon Wireless on Pinterest shows that users have taken it upon themselves to add Verizon-branded content.

  • The sheer acknowledgment of these pinners would be a social win.

Admittedly, these examples are no stroke of genius (if you want genius, you have to pay for it), but they offer some direction. A truly successful initiative would also take into account the overarching user experience and all of the elements in our social brand design and communication framework. We got a bit carried away with idea three -- have a look:

The "'like' me today, gone tomorrow" model

Facebook "likes," Twitter follows, and Tumblr reblogs -- what are they worth, really? They are certainly worth something:

  • They are an acknowledgement that you are doing something your customers value.

  • They are the first step toward meaningful consumer dialogue.

  • They make you look good in front of your client or boss.

OK, so No. 3 is ultimately not meaningful, but let's be honest, none of us are without ego, and while no one is willing to admit it, it feels good to deliver a report with big numbers.

Last year Wendy's launched a pretty creative initiative on Twitter. The campaign was titled "@girlbehindsix" and was deemed a "140 character game show." The mechanic was unique, and the initial response was overwhelmingly successful. The account acquired 33,000 followers in a month and achieved a Klout score of 72.

Giving away money and prizes makes it much easier to achieve the kind of numbers mentioned above, but this was a feat nonetheless. One questionable element in this initiative is the ability to connect this tactic to a larger strategic objective. What exactly does the brand plan to do with these followers? It is understandable that this was an awareness campaign, but on the surface, it seems there were some chips left on the table.

As you can see there are still more than 26,000 followers here and no activity in months. Will "@girlbehindsix" be making a comeback? If so, when? And will the followers still be around? It is admittedly very easy to play Monday morning quarterback, but given the success of this campaign, we feel that holding it to the highest standards is justifiable.

The "let's get everyone to smoke our hashtag" directive

Let's start by making sure everyone realizes Twitter did not invent the hashtag (#). A Twitter user invented the hashtag in order to more easily categorize tweets about a particular event. Since its invention in 2007, brands have gone crazy with the hashtag. Rather than identifying creative new ways to engage consumers on Twitter, many brands have opted to use the almighty hashtag as their core strategic weapon. Hashtags have become "memetic barometers," or ways to track popular topics. Being on the positive end of a meme can be great for a brand, but attempting to fabricate a trend and ensure a positive outcome is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. One cannot fully blame the brand or its agency for attempting such a tactic, as promoted trends are an advertising product created by Twitter. In essence, promoted "trends" are not trends at all.

McDonalds recently learned the downside of promoted trends by trying to get Twitter users to adopt a brand-created hashtag, #McDStories. I am sure the McDonalds marketing team had the best of intentions, but reality set in when undesirable and disparaging tweets began to emerge. Rather than trying to address these tweets head on, McDonalds took the promoted trend down -- but the damage was done. Here are a few takeaways:

  • Twitter is an open forum, and people love to complain on open forums.

  • Twitter users are not your fans, they are Twitter users.

  • Paying for a promoted trend does not make it an actual trend.

  • Proper strategic planning that considers every user scenario could have forecasted the situation McDonalds found itself in.

  • If you are going to try and get people to tell your story, you might want to consider the stories they might have to tell.

Take a look at a safer, more community-centric approach to promoted trends:

In this example, Bing embraces an effective tactic: getting people to tell their own stories in a contextually relevant way. Though one of the tweets employs undesirable language, it is not aimed at or directly associated with the brand -- plus, it lends credibility to the conversation, as it is unencumbered expression (brands need to be OK with this, period). In social brand design, the people who follow your brand are as important as the story the brand puts forth.


Back in 2006 at Podcamp Boston (organized by Chris Brogan and Christopher Penn, with the help of C.C. Chapman, Bryan Person, Steve Garfield, Whitney Hoffman, and others), the digital marketing landscape was different. After a meeting with Dick Costolo and Brent Hill of FeedBurner, they told me that one of their staffers, Eric Olson, was going to the same event (an event my co-workers at the time chuckled at). But the conference -- with the help of Mitch Joel, Jason and Melanie Van Orden, Justin Kownacki, John Havens, Eric Skiff, Julien Smith, Doug Haslam, Scott Monty, Kristen Crusius, and many more in attendance -- marked a turning point in my perception of media and communications.

Today, though the nature of storytelling has changed, human nature has not. Modern communications must take into account both traditional principles of humanity and human behavior in an age of social technology. The social brand design and communication framework is simply meant to be a reminder of all necessary considerations when devising a social marketing initiative. Print it out. Hang it in your office -- it could save you from an unfortunate marketing mishap.

Adam Broitman is chief creative strategist, Something Massive.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Men with thought bubble with social network sign" image via Shutterstock.

Enable rich advertising formats

Standard mobile banners can be flat and boring, and guess what -- they carry flat and boring CPMs along with them. Rich media advertising formats garner higher CPMs and offer more interesting engagement potential for brand advertisers, which means you'll get the most return for your new mobile traffic. To boot, rich media and full-page ads experience a 45 percent and 50 percent increase in click-through rate, respectively, when paired with in-stream video.

Here is an example of a rich media experience that encourages action -- a video interstitial combined with an "add event" option.

Embrace mobile video ads

We can't stress this enough: It is absolutely critical that your mobile property can accept mobile video advertising. Because video has emerged as the single most effective way to influence target audiences, it is in high demand from advertisers and can therefore be a great source of revenue. I often say that the online advertising industry "screwed up" advertising by not having video involved from the get-go. If top publishers cooperate, we won't make the same mistake in mobile. If your mobile site already features video content, in-stream video ads are also a great option -- they boast an average completion rate of 87 percent and can earn as high as an $18 CPM.

Partner with a premium mobile ad network

When you're shopping around for a mobile ad network to help with monetization, remember that in mobile, quality is essential. You want to make sure that you work with a company that will not only be able to sell at a higher CPM, but will also know how to run more relevant campaigns for your audience. Ultimately, "premium" networks have the best potential to help you capture more revenue from your traffic.

Confused by the sheer volume of options that are out there? MobiThinking's guide to premium networks provides a basic breakdown.

Build traffic through awareness

As publishers know all too well, half the battle in building traffic for your new app or mobile website is getting the word out.

To gain more eyeballs, you can start by building marketing strategies that employ search engine marketing tactics. This is a no-brainer, tried-and-true approach that has worked for many publishers.

Another easy solution is to promote your mobile version or app on other relevant desktop sites. For example, VentureBeat uses Mobile Theory's "Overpass" ad technology to promote its iPhone app on its regular desktop website, as well as other business-related properties. Rather than build a separate mobile site to promote the app, VentureBeat chose to partner with an ad network to grab the attention of mobile users and funnel traffic.

Bing is another example: For its iPad app launch last year, in addition to its other marketing strategies, it included a mobile ad campaign to spread awareness, running full-screen expandables in iPad. Within 48 hours, it was the No. 1 most downloaded app in the iTunes store -- not too shabby.

Scott Swanson is CEO of Mobile Theory.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Smart phone with credit card" image via Shutterstock.



to leave comments.

Commenter: Customer Service Chat

2010, January 30

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Customer Service Chat

Commenter: Business Plan Writers

2009, November 03

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Business Plan Writers