Tag Archives: web 2.0

Best Back To School Campaigns, Part II: Target’s Social Checklist

On Wednesday, I kicked off my series on the best Back to School marketing campaigns of 2010.  I sought out campaigns that are innovative, fun and helpful, both to the shopper and the community at large.  In Part II of the series, I will highlight Target’s innovative and extremely useful “Roomates” Facebook app.

Target is a popular destination for college students stocking up on dorm necessities.  To help ensure these coeds get everything they need, Target has developed an interactive checklist accessible via Facebook.  The checklist has three options (“buy,” “have” and “pass”), and includes links to purchase specific products on Target.com.

The best part about this campaign, however, is the roommates option.  This part of the app allows students to share their list with their roommate(s), helping ensure that one suite will not wind up with four vacuums and only one lamp.  The app also features messaging, calendars, and even a bill splitter – definitely something I wish I had in college.

Once the checklist is complete, students can select the print option and bring the list along on their shopping trip.  The checklist is even available on Target.com in a more traditional PDF format.  All in all, this campaign is a helpful tool for college students, as well as an ingenious way to show off the megastore’s seemingly innumerable product offerings.

Stop by our blog on Monday for the conclusion of this series, in which I discuss two innovative and cost-effective alternatives to the traditional college bookstore.

Using Foursquare to Reward Customers

With 1 million users and counting, Foursquare is touted as the next hot social media tool.  But is there a business application?  Should marketers care, or is it just another passing fad?

Foursquare is a location-based social networking service for the web and mobile devices, as well as a game.

The mobile app, calculates your location, and provides you with a list of restaurants and stores in the area.  You find your restaurant in the list, select it, and touch “Check-In Here.”  If you are hoping to locate people, you can include a brief “shout-out” message – “mini college reunion with Rachel and Pam!” -  which quickly spreads to your friends on Foursquare, and also Facebook and Twitter.

This is just one example of why city dwellers are tapping into this new service.  In addition to this friend-finding aspect, Foursquare is also a game.  Users compete citywide to earn the most points each week.  Each check-in earns that user one point.  Extra points are earned through “badges,” awarded to the user after certain events (25 different places checked-in, out four nights in a row, etc.)

As the number of users has grown, the rewards have become more tangible.  A user becomes the “mayor” of a location if he or she has checked-in there more than any other user.  Businesses in turn are rewarding their mayors with real-world benefits.  Local bars and restaurants are offering free or discounted food and drink, and chains like Starbucks and Whole Foods have launched coupon programs for Foursquare mayors.

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Crowdsourcing: An unavoidable evil or a process with quality results?

Last night I attended All About Crowdsourcing, a program sponsored by the AdClub at The Market in Boston’s Financial District. It not only helped me understand how some companies are developing ideas, but also raised many questions about how it may impact  creatives.

The speakers, Edward Boches, chief creative officer at Mullen, and John Winsor, VP/ ED of Strategy and Innovation at Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, first defined the concept: Asking the crowd for the best idea.

Wikipedia, the encyclopedia built on the crowdsourcing concept defines it this way: Crowdsourcing is a distributed problem-solving and production model. Problems are broadcast to an unknown group of solvers in the form of an open call for solutions. Users–also known as the crowd–typically form into online communities, and the crowd submits solutions. The crowd also sorts through the solutions, finding the best ones. These best solutions are then owned by the entity that broadcast the problem in the first place–the crowdsourcer–and the winning individuals in the crowd are sometimes rewarded. In some cases, this labor is well compensated, either monetarily, with prizes, or with recognition. In other cases, the only rewards may be kudos or intellectual satisfaction. Crowdsourcing may produce solutions from amateurs or volunteers working in their spare time, or from experts or small businesses which were unknown to the initiating organization.

Two Examples of Crowdsourcing

1) BBH Labs wanted a new logo. They used Crowdspring crowdsourcing application to set up the project. 1700 entrants sent in designs. they choose one from 30 finalists and paid the designer $1,500. The remaining 1,699 people got a thank you.

2) A Japanese band named Sour wanted help creating a video for one of their songs. They ask people to submit videos and used all of the submissions for one video.

When we held our own small crowdsourcing project amongst our team a few years ago, we asked designers, writers and marketers to help us name our newsletter. In the end our final result incorporated ideas from everyone. So, rather than giving only one “winner” a gift card, we gave each contributor a gift card for their efforts. This works on a small scale, but becomes cost prohibitive for large crowds. Especially since many of these projects are endeavored to save money.

While I love the idea of global problem solving, it does raise questions for designers who often waive their rights to the work, even if it doesn’t get chosen. Of course, no one forced to submit their work, but some firms are worried that the process will displace design firms.

The audience had many questions, which made for a lively evening.

  • Are we now going to have to compete for everything?
  • Are we becoming a commodity?
  • Do we owe the crowd something for their contribution?

Ed listed a long list of crowdsourcing websites that provide a place to get ideas, video, and design. I have listed five below.

I found the tips and ideas of the speakers and participants to give me some great guidelines for a running a crowdsourcing project.

Best Practices

  • Ask the right question of the right crowd using the right technology
  • Make sure you have clear rules and agreements to address IP issues
  • The project must have a director to make sure it goes the way the client wants.
  • Use a professional crowdsourcing application of you can, or at least look at their models to learn how to do it right.

Finally, there are come large organizations and projects that have built their business on this model.

Sitting next to me was Stephanie Zellman, owner of Uturn Design. I asked her if she felt threatened by these companies. Were they going to make her obsolete as a strategic designer?  Her response: “No, it doesn’t worry me. There are enough clients out there who value the relationship and quality that we offer. ”

I, like Stephanie, don’t believe creativity can be commoditized. I’m banking on it.

Say No—To Pulling the Blog Plug

It’s taken me a few days to think about how to respond to Wired’s piece, “Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004 Paul Boutin’s call to action not to launch a blog, or to pull one you may already have up and running.  I’ve read the essay several times, put it down, and haven’t stopped thinking about it.

A week ago,  I was praising Andrew Sullivan’s piece “Why I Blog.” If you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.  Many blogs out there contain vital voices which shouldn’t be eliminated or retired; and so what troubles me about Wired’s advice to “pull the plug” is that its a big sweeping statement, and one which should be qualified.

I agree that blogging shouldn’t be done just for the sake of blogging, mindlessly checking-it off on your marketing to-do list.  Blogs should have clearly defined goals and purposes, with an intended audience in mind.  They can be educational and inspirational, and can help you connect to like-minded individuals, businesses and organizations of all shapes and sizes.  And if you’re so inclined, you can still follow the people you’d like on Twitter, Flickr and Facebook no one says you can’t!  It doesn’t have to be an either or situation.

To live in a complex world as we do today, good communication is needed now more then ever.  Newspapers are continuing to report a decline in circulation, many are eliminating and combining sections trying to get the most bang for their buck.  The Audit Bureau of Circulations, reports that readers are migrating to the Internet, where news is typically free.

CMS Watch Analyst, Tony Byrne, has a great piece “In Defense of Blogging” in response to Wired’s essay where he writes, “… if you want to seriously develop an idea rather than share what your pet cat just did or pass along a single hyperlink… this requires a narrative… blogging in the business context has more relevance than ever, in a world where customers want to be able to understand and connect with the firms they patronize.”

Writers Bryan Alexander and Alan Levine describe the advances in “telling of stories using web 2.0 tools, technologies and strategies” in their piece “Web 2.0 Storytelling: Emergence of a New Genre.

I beg to differ with the “pulling the plug on blogs” frame of mind.  I think, if you have a niche audience, are providing valuable content, and joining in the conversation, by all means don’t stop now. The convergence of these great web 2.0 tools are making the user/reader experience that much more worthwhile and are so 2008.

Already Living Web 2.0

Demo Pavilion Enterprise 2.0 Conference Boston, June 2008

Last week as I walked around the Demo Pavilion at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston, sales reps wooed me with all kinds of fun paraphernalia, you know those conference goodies you can’t resist. Of course, there were also white papers, glossy one-page flyers, and business cards.

Enterprise 2.0 Conference Demo Pavilion

There were some great Enterprise 2.0 software applications from an impressive list of exhibitors. After seeing seven demonstrations they became a blur. If you want to know the truth, the interfaces didn’t look very different from one another. But the programs were very cool, bringing together blogs, wikis, and social networks, and more–in one desktop view.

During the last demonstration, the rep gave the best wrap-up of the day. “Voila”, he said. “You see– it’s all one big mashup!”

In his book, How to Do Everything with Web 2.0 Mashups, Jesse Fieler defines mashup like this:

“…a mashup is generally categorized by presenting specific information without forcing the user to click through various screens and urls. The mashup, not the user, performs the synthesis of the data so everything is presented at once. One way of describing mashups is to think of them as managing complexity.”

The rep’s comment got me thinking–most of us have been using mashups more and more in our daily lives, sometimes without realizing it. Amazon, eBay, Flickr, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and YouTube are common every day examples. Or when you click on the video on cnn.com for breaking news, storm watch on weather.com for the latest weather forecast, or video traveler on tripadvisor to see the places you want to visit.

There was a lot of discussion at the conference about the naysayers back at the office who take the “no use” for web 2.0 position, and they’re not ready for social media in the workplace. I think If you were to stop and look at your day, you’re probably using more applications then you realize!

Tell me again, why wouldn’t web 2.0 and social media streamline how you live and think at work?

Navigating the Web 2.0 World

Nearly every day I find myself encountering new Web 2.0 related terms, sites or tools. I admit it…at times it can still be overwhelming. I’ve found it helpful to keep a running list of sites I find of interest – particularly when it comes to B2B marketing. Last I checked, my Web 2.0 favorites list was approaching the 20-mark.

I recently, however, learned that the folks at GoToWeb2.0 have done something similar – although to a much greater degree. They’ve created a 259-page document on available Web 2.0 sites and tools. The document, entitled “A Comprehensive Directory to a ton of social networking sites” represents much more than social networking sites. The detailed listing of Web 2.0 tools can help you both operate and market your business.

Some of my favorite tools in the Directory, which are listed with site links and descriptions include:

  • GritWire can help you organize your feeds, content and other daily web reading all in one place.
  • AskItOnline is an online tool that allows you to efficiently create surveys and have others take them.
  • Serph is a tool to help you track the “buzz” about whatever and whomever you want.
  • Skrbl is a web whiteboard that allow you to write, see, edit and share notes.

Please share other Web 2.0 tools you’ve found useful.

The Place Where Web 2.0 and 21st Century Literacy Come Together

kids and computersLast week, 7,000 people converged on San Francisco to attend the Web 2.0 Expo, and since then there’s been a lot of talk about it across the blogosphere. With that kind of turn-out I was thinking, Web 2.0 really is a hot topic. But then the new Forrester Report, Global Enterprise Web 2.0 Market Forecast: 2007 To 2013, threw a monkey wrench into the picture.

As you review Forrester’s report, keep in mind the findings are primarily focused on Enterprise Web 2.0 applications for big companies. “In 2008, firms with 1000 employees or more will spend $764 million on Web 2.0 tools and technologies. Over the next five years, that expenditure will grow at a compound annual rate of 43%.”

Forrester’s forecast indicates less then 68% of small businesses have any intentions of implementing Web 2.0. into their businesses. Forrester also points out that their analysis of Enterprise Web 2.0 doesn’t include consumer services like Blogger, Facebook, Netvibes, and Twitter. Sarah Perez writes on Read Write Web, “Large software vendors, are integrating Web 2.0 into their offerings with features such as wikis, blogs, RSS technologies, social networking and mashup tools, by 2013, few buyers will seek out and purchase Web 2.0 tools specifically.”

Web 2.0 Tool Kit

Forrester says much of the Web 2.0 tool kit will simply “fade into the fabric of enterprise collaboration suites, and that by 2013, few buyers will seek out and purchase Web 2.0 tools specifically, Web 2.0 will become a feature, not a product.

Ah, suite software. Sound familiar? You’re probably thinking been there done that–end of story. But wait, this is where I think the report get really interesting.

Right now it’s reported, “people between the ages of 12 and 17 are the more avid consumers of social computing technology, with one-third of them acting as content creators. By 2011, Forrester believes users of Web 2.0 tools will mirror users of the web at large. Over the next three years, millions of baby boomers will retire and the younger workers brought in to fill the void will not only want, but will expect similar tools in the office as those they use at home in their personal lives.”

Ah hah, younger workers will expect similar tools! And why would that be?

21st Century Literacy

According to the 21st Century Workforce Commission National Alliance of Business, “The current and future health of America’s 21st Century Economy depends directly on how broadly and deeply Americans reach a new level of literacy-‘21st Century Literacy’ that includes strong academic skills, thinking, reasoning, teamwork skills, and proficiency in using technology.”

What is 21st century literacy? The report from The 21st Century Literacy Summit defines it this way:

“21st century literacy is the set of abilities and skills where aural, visual and digital literacy overlap. These include the ability to understand the power of images and sounds, to recognize and use that power, to manipulate and trans­form digital media, to distribute them perva­sively, and to easily adapt them to new forms.”

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has called for schools to adopt a 21st century curriculum that blends thinking and innovation skills; information, media, and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) literacy.

Every generation has its skeptics, the ones who don’t believe in making changes in the way we work, live and communicate. But while they’re busy debating it, our youth are out there increasing their literacy in information and communication technologies.

Will you be ready to work with new younger colleagues? Will your company be able to compete in the global economy? If not now, then when?

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New media makes its footprint: looking into 2008

footprintAs B2B marketers we’re preparing to close the first quarter of 2008, and are knee-deep into our 2008 marketing plans.   These plans may include traditional marketing elements - such as tradeshows, print advertising, white papers or speaking engagements – but now more than ever, new media tools are making a footprint across today’s B2B marketing structures.

I came across a recent study by MarketingProfs and Forrester Research that demonstrated this very point.  The purpose of the study was to understand the issues that today’s marketers are facing and the resulting trends that are likely to emerge as we continue into 2008.  Based on the perspectives shared by executives and marketing managers across a broad range of industries, the study found a continuing escalation of the focus on “new media” – tactics enabled by and based on Internet technology – and a somewhat less pronounced emphasis on traditional tactics.    Particular findings from the study that I find to be the most telling include:

  • Email is being deployed more often than any other tactic (used 84% of the time)
  • Use of online video and search marketing is expected to grow the most (55-56% each) into 2008, while traditional tactics like broadcast/print advertising, direct mail, and tradeshows are expected to decline more than 20%.
  • 50% of respondents plan to increase spending on Web 2.0 media (52%) and Webinars (51%).

Traditional media approaches are quickly becoming most appropriate for branding/advertising, while new media tactics are emerging as key elements in corporate communications strategies.  Blogs, online video, and other Web 2.0 media tools can successfully communicate brand and messaging.  As marketers, we continue to be held responsible for returns on spending.   When defining your marketing strategy, it’s key to set clear program objectives, determine and execute appropriate tactics, and effectively measure results.   As the MarketingProfs/Forrester study summarizes, “Marketers who have yet to add digital approaches such as online video, podcasts, search marketing, Web 2.0, and webinars to their repertoire might consider experimenting to see if these can be successful additions to their marketing arsenals.”

Intranets and Web 2.0: their common denominator

fractionCollaboration and conversation are at the heart of Web 2.0. We’ve seen how technology tools like blogs, wikis, podcasts, and webcasts engage people and encourage participation. Nonetheless, many companies remain hesitant to adopt Web 2.0 for a variety of factors – whether it be lack of time, knowledge, bandwidth, or resources.   Companies, small and large, are struggling to effectively integrate conversational marketing and social media into their marketing programs. Corporate America does, however, appear to be testing Web 2.0 technology in at least one means:  the Intranet. 

Ann All from itbusinessedge.com recently blogged about this very topic.   In her blog, she discusses how companies are embracing Web 2.0 in their intranets to encourage collaboration and data-sharing.    Reportedly, the winners of Nielson Norman Group’s top ten best designed intranets are making liberal use of Web 2.0 tools.  NNG’s director of research states, “the rise of social networks and multimedia content is emerging as a driver of intranet innovation.”   

Companies like software enterprise maker, SAP, have introduced Web 2.0 elements such as video, while others like Coldwell Banker are getting much more personalized with realtor data on their intranet. Companies are investing more resources in their intranets and getting more sophisticated in their design. 

I’ve been exposed to a variety of corporate intranets across a wide array of industries – whether high technology, financial services, biotech, hospitality, or retail. Despite their many differences, the one common denominator of these intranets has been their purpose: helping employees to communicate more efficiently.   It is evident that the two (Web 2.0 and the Intranet) share common interests – making the visitor experience more real and personal.

If you’ve seen or heard of good examples of Intranets embracing Web 2.0 technology, please share!