Shop Small, Make a Big Impact

Small business does a great deal to empower communities and increase employment. I remember during my high school days that it was the small, local businesses that were constantly sponsoring sports teams, helping with fundraisers and awarding scholarships to students.

This Saturday, November 26, is Small Business Saturday. A second annual event designed to encourage consumers to promote small business and make a purchase at a favorite locally owned store.

If you’re a small business owner, there’s still time to promote your company using pre-designed templates for this awesome event. As a marketer, I’m loving their free, easy-to-use tools, including in-store signage and e-marketing. Event coordinators were even doling out free Facebook ads, but those have all been claimed.

So, save some of that Christmas list for Saturday and shop small! Black Friday is way overrated anyway.

In honor of Small Business Saturday, I’d like to give a shout out to some of my favorite small businesses:

Dress Like Flo

Yesterday was a typical day in the neighborhood, with the exception of Beavis, a witch, a cowboy and a princess taking to the streets. Which made me wonder, what Halloween promotions are utilizing emerging media?

Maybe not your typical line of thought on October 31 but that’s what blogging does to a person.

My search for a winning Halloween campaign brought me to Progressive Insurance’s Dress Like Flo this Halloween webpage. Check out Flo’s promo video for details.

For all you trick-or-treaters undecided about what to wear, Flo suggests you recreate her look. The microsite provides a detailed, 10-point explanation of accessories needed to pull off your Flo costume, all the way down to the exact brand of lipstick.

The site offers some pretty cool features, like the three-step process for becoming Flo (makeup, hair and being Flo); a link to purchase the official Flo costume on Amazon; a downloadable logo, nametag and button for those do-it-yourselfers; and an app to help you talk like Flo.

This Halloween campaign integrates the microsite with Facebook and Twitter, encouraging social sharing. Follow the campaign @ItsFlo or #DressLikeFlo to view the latest tweets right on the homepage. Participants are encouraged to post pictures of themselves dressed like Flo on the designated Facebook page. Very engaging, Progressive.

What makes this Halloween campaign so spook-tacular is the fact that in the midst of the dress-like-Flo promotion, Progressive didn’t forget their primary call to action. A tab on the campaign homepage encourages viewers to get an insurance quote in just six minutes. Sure, Flo is a loveable brand character and spreading brand awareness through a Halloween costume is creative, but if no one connects Flo to cost-effective insurance, Flo becomes just another pop culture icon out of work.

Way to go Progressive for making this Halloween campaign all treat and no trick.

An Ode to Email and Etsy

I love Etsy.com. It’s got an indy, crafty feel that makes me want to take up knitting or paper making or some other avant garde pastime. But, when would I have time to write this blog?

So in light of my lack of artistic endeavors, I’m taking my affinity for Etsy and my passion for blogging and combining them for this post, mostly because this company just conducted a marketing campaign worth noting.

Recently, I received the following e-mail message.

Two items are worth noting. First, Etsy scored some major points with the option to update communication preferences. As marketers, sometimes we think we’ve pinned down what our customers want only to find out later, after spending wads of money on related campaigns, that their likes and dislikes changed. Stay ahead of the game with a preference center and ask customers what they want.

Second, Etsy notified customers of privacy policy updates. Privacy is definitely important and its essential that we maintain transparency with our customers, especially in relation to how individuals’ information is shared. This also shows that a company makes privacy a priority and helps develop trust.

Side note: In the past year, Etsy implemented a privacy policy that left many buyers upset about the prospect of their purchase histories being viewed in search engine results. Later, however, these settings were reverted to private as the default.

What’s your policy for finding customer preferences or sending updates on privacy changes?

Metrics for Mobile

Creating websites for mobile devices requires a different thought process than when developing a regular website. So, then, why are website metrics often applied to mobile sites and expected to provide the same insight?

For the most part, the answer lies in the fact that mobile marketing is still new. Mobile technology is continuously advancing and companies have yet to capitalize on all the opportunities available.

To determine how best to measure campaigns in the mobile space, let’s take a look at the type of mobile experience consumers expect to have and how that translates into measurement.

The biggest difference between mobile users and PC users is the fact that mobile consumers are on the go. They want information fast and typically don’t plan on trolling the Internet for hours on their phones. This is why measuring the number of pages viewed or links clicked isn’t necessarily the best indicator of campaign success or engagement.

A better gauge is data downloaded or branded videos viewed. These are specific actions and show time spent with a brand. And, if a mobile consumer is willing to watch your video or download your content onto their phone, they’re definitely interested in what you have to say and what you’re selling.

If you’re marketing to mobile consumers, what metrics do you find helpful? Have you tweaked established website measurements and applied them to mobile?

And the Winner is…

Last week, I polled the masses (Ha! I wish.) regarding what to write about for this week’s blog post. The response: social media in the 2012 presidential race. So without further ado, here’s the winning topic.

In 2008 we saw how effective social media can be in a presidential election. President Obama and his team were able to capitalize on the extensive reach social media offers, as well as the rapid viral spread of messaging in the social space, and turn that buzz into votes.

Today, it’s understood that to conduct a half-way decent campaign, an incumbent must beef up their social media presence to persuade voters and raise awareness, especially among younger Americans. Although it’s over a year away from Election Day 2012, the presidential race is starting to take shape. The forerunners may change in the months ahead, but below is a quick summary of the current top hopeful from the Republican and Democrat parties and their social media strategy.*

Declared Republican Presidential Candidate: Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann’s campaign does have a social media presence, but on the day she announced her presidency, her social sites were quiet. Not a good start social media wise. This would have been the perfect time to engage voters in social channels as the announcement prompts an increase in site visits.

But, Bachmann continues to keep voters informed of her recent actions in Congress and policy views via social media, and she’s making a grassroots effort to encourage small donations. This potentially includes a strategic plan to re-engage these donors later on for additional funding since they haven’t exceeded the $2,500 donation cap.

Current stats: 100,997 Twitter followers and 273,499 Facebook Likes

Declared Democrat Presidential Candidate: Barack Obama

President Obama’s last campaign had a grassroots focus. This time it appears the Obama campaign will institute a more traditional run with increased TV ad spending along with engaging voters in social channels.

Obama did announce his re-election campaign via Facebook and Twitter and hosted a Facebook Town Hall Meeting in April. New this time around is the fact that Obama will actually be tweeting via his Twitter account. Tweets are annotated with a “-BO” designation.

Current stats: 10,359,849 Twitter followers and 23,375,007 Facebook Likes

*Candidates were chosen based on the latest Gallup recognition poll and must have declared a run for the 2012 presidential race.

Blippar: QR Codes on Steroids

You’re probably familiar with the futuristic-looking boxes known as QR codes. But have you heard of Blippar?

Recently launched summer 2011, UK-based Blippar uses the latest image recognition technology to make ads the trigger of virtual content. Here’s how it works:

  1. Download the Blippar app for Apple or Android.
  2. Hold your mobile device up to a Blippable ad.
  3. Blipp it (take a picture) to view content such as games, promotions, Web pages and more.


Users can immediately share via Twitter, Facebook and email.

This is a great way for consumers to interact with a brand and it’s catching on. Candy maker Cadbury incorporated the technology into its candy bars. Chocolate lovers simply blip their candy bar wrapper and a game pops up on the wrapper.  Grocer Tesco began running blippable print ads, which when blipped contain a recipe, store finder and a price-drop promotion.

It’ll be interesting to see how this technology is used in the future.

What do YOU want to read about?

Don’t mix words. Give it to me straight.

It’s simple. Answer the poll below and share what you want to read about next week on Emergent Musings.  The topic with the most votes wins.

Don’t see an option that you like? Make a suggestion in the ‘other’ field with your topic of choice.

Facebook is Changing, Again

Not sure about you, but yesterday my Facebook newsfeed was peppered with rants and raves (okay, mostly rants) regarding the site’s updates. Some didn’t even notice the changes until they read a comment complaining about it, while others didn’t see the need to fix something that wasn’t broken.

Here’s my favorite:

Thank you, Facebook friend, for posting. You know who you are.

Funny thing, by the end of the day it seemed as though all was forgotten. There were more important topics to discuss, like season premieres of The Office and Parks & Rec.

That’s what she said.

I couldn’t resist.

Change is inevitable though, especially in the fast-growing world of social media. Facebook must work on bettering itself or a newer shiner social site will take its place. Remember MySpace?

Before posting a Facebook rant, let’s take a look at what’s actually changing.

  1. Revamped Friend Lists: Also known as Smart Lists, automatically creates lists for you based on city, work, family and school and Facebook provides suggestions based on algorithms. Other possibilities include a Close Friends List and an Acquaintance List, enabling you to determine how prominently the group should appear in the newsfeed. You have the ability to create and tweak lists but Facebook put some lists in place as users typically don’t like to take the time to do so.
  2. A real-time news ticker with Newsfeed changes: To make sure you don’t miss out on the big events, the news ticker will adjust content based on what you’ve previously viewed.
  3. Subscribe button: Regardless of whether you’re Facebook friends with someone, you can now subscribe to receive their profile updates. This helps users control their newsfeeds and provides an experience somewhat like Twitter.

There you have it. Will you rant or rave?

Tweets Gone Wild

You may have seen these tweets cross your Twitter feed in the past few months.

From Kenneth Cole: Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo.

From the American Red Cross: Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.

From Chrysler: I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive.

Mistakes happen. They’re guaranteed, and these gaffes are just a few of the many companies have made over the years.

Since tweets at some point will totter on the wild side, it’s important to keep in mind that when it’s you at the keyboard preparing a response, play it cool not corporate. Remember, the best part of social media is that it gives consumers the opportunity to connect with a brand and when an apologetic response is stuffy or methodical, it’s just as bad as not owning up to the mistake.

So, how did the above companies react?

All apologized. Chrysler fired the person responsible, and the Red Cross responded with a clever follow-up tweet acknowledging the mishap and moving on.

To Chrysler, I’d suggest being a bit more forgiving. Canning someone is extreme. Not too long ago American tax payers bailed you out.

A Riddle and Three Favorites

Riddle me this: What has words, images, links and videos, is always changing but stays in the same spot?

Answer: A website.

Welcome to the world of Web design. Where everyone seems to either have a website or is a critic of one. I’m more of a critic, which is why I’ve compiled a few of my favorites. Maybe they’ll inspire your own Web creations or maybe not. Either way, it’s good to know what’s out there.

Favorite #1: Piperlime.com

Piperlime.com

Piperlime not only has great products but this e-commerce site offers one of the best search functions around. Visitors can choose from a variety of search topics, such as price, size, brand, shoe width and color, in handy drop-down menus to quickly find very specific items. Like those hard-to-find carmel leather Frye boots.

The website also includes expert advice; bold, rolling imagery with punchy copy; and excellent navigation tabs, helping users find what they want with very few clicks.

Favorite #2: NPR.com

NPR.com

Maybe it’s the way they organize their homepage content or the creative icons they have for each news section. Whatever it is NPR.com has some of the best functionality and design among major news sites. For one, the homepage smartly balances imagery with story titles. This keeps visitors from feeling overwhelmed by the high number of page options available and the large amount of information commonly found on news sites.

A Twitter feed is also built into each article’s webpage making it easy to see who’s commenting on the piece and what people are saying about it. In addition, the comments feature intuitively enables readers to easily comment, recommend feedback and arrange posts.

Favorite #3: Woot.com

Woot.com

Woot! is the originator of the one day, one deal site. Besides the fact that you can save a lot of dough on some cool tech stuff, this website offers great navigation and integration of social media, including a blog, Twitter feed, weekly videocast and polls. And, a sales snapshot featuring the first deal sucker for that day. In fact, Woot! has its own community with spinoffs like Kids.Woot! and Sellout. Woot! Best of all the description for each daily deal makes typically boring narrative about gigabytes and screen width actually interesting.

There you have it. My Robert-Epert-like take on websites.

Have any killer websites that you think are worth noting? Show some love and post them in the comment box below.

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