Friday, September 30, 2011

Google Analytics Launches Paid Service

Google has decided to launch a subscription-based analytics service that would provide paying clients with around-the-clock support as well as a service agreement for $150,000 a year. It also provides these clients with certain enhanced features. Several large companies, including Travelocity and Gucci have signed up for the service and some have been using it since this past May.

Along the lines of what we have been discussing in class, this further underlines the importance and value companies place on analyzing and understanding how customers come to and use their sites. In addition, it reinforces the ability to derive a tremendous amount of data from ad spending on the internet and the effort on behalf of digital marketers to try and quantify the results of this ad spending in a different way than has ever been possible with traditional media. The granular detail and specific nature of the data available with online ad spending is likely to continue to drive companies to invest significant time, energy and resources in not only designing and implementing but also analyzing their digital marketing efforts.


Cloud powered facial recognition is terrifying

New facial recognition software co-developed by Carnegie Mellon and Google is able to match your photo to your entire online presence in just minutes. The technology sources your information from the wealth of information that people have made available on various social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and also other web sources such as university and professional/company pages.
Interestingly, the implications of the software go beyond matching a face to personal data. Scientist were able to show that machine intelligence could be applied to the personal data to make predictions and inferences about the individuals. An example was presented where the facial recognition software was combined with another piece of software which predicted Social Security Numbers based on personal data such as age, geographic location, etc. By combining the two applications together researchers were able to determine an individuals social security number starting from a simple, anonymous photo.


Positive vs. Negative Buzz

Consumers tend to find positive information about a product more credible than negative information. A survey performed in August 2010 by Keller Fay Group found that 66% of internet users thought positive brand information was believable as compared to 48% for negative brand information. While a more recent poll showed that negative buzz is gaining more influence on purchasing decisions among internet users, positive buzz is still more likely to affect purchasing decisions.

This finding illustrates the importance of managing brand messages and chatter online. It suggests that as long as a brand or product has significant positive reviews associated with it, then negative reviews will have less of an influence on the purchasing decision.


Service Updates for Google Analytics

Google Analytics had quite a newsworthy day yesterday with the announcement of Real Time services as well as Premium Accounts. I can obviously see the huge benefits of being able to monitor up-to-the-minute data on your website's users; this will be incredibly relevant when running social media campaigns being able to track the waning interest of your tweets/posts. Thinking back on the first class where we briefly discussed attrition rates on email distribution lists, I wonder what the impact of this real-time data will have on the frequency of campaigns that drive users to the website and how that will impact the attrition rate of subscribers to those means of communication. Additionally, for websites that drive sales rather than readership it will be interesting to see how the Real Time data impacts not only the company's ability to tailor campaigns to keep user frequency high, but also to leverage that frequency into increased customer spending.

The article below talks a bit more about this new service, and hints that Analytics may be key to future growth strategies at Google.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Branding and the importance of it in a digital world

A very interesting article was written in The New Yorker this week on Lexicon, a company that focuses on creating brand names for clients. The Blackberry was solely created by ideation sessions, and resulted in huge brand equity, at one time being synonymous with smartphones prior to the iPhone revolution. The article provides interesting anecdotes and argues whether names are more or less important in the modern world (our very own Columbia professor Bernd Schmitt is quoted commenting the higher importance of the product itself versus the brand name). However one feels about the importance of brand names, its an interesting article for all of us marketers-noting the importance of multilingual exploration due to our globalized digital world, plus reminding all of us that the ever-increasing overload of product communication to customers necessitates a new way of thinking. Enjoy!
(oh and if you don't want to deal with paying to read the whole thing, I'm happy to send out the article for anyone who wishes to read it in full)


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Berlin: the best place to launch a start-up?

Over the past year, I've been fortunate to travel to Berlin twice and have been moved by the energy and creativity. My first trip, while meeting a mutual-friend - a founding members of Zalando (Germany's answer to Zappos) - for dinner, I also was fortunate to meet another ambitious start-up entrepreneur, Hannes, who was featured today on the pitching his new company, Iversity.

While the US has several major hotbeds for start-up activity (notably Silicon Alley and more recently, NYC) Berlin's inexpensive living costs and creative culture make the city a breeding ground for those who wish to taking chances. And while NY start-ups probably have better access to financing, Berlin offers places like the Betahaus, which offers an environment to incubate an idea while learning from fellow creatives. If you're new to the start-up world, Berlin might be your best chance to launch, given the creative energy and relatively inexpensive office and labor costs.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Want to Know How VC's calculate Valuation different than founders?

I found this blog posting through techcrunch and thought it was really interesting because it runs through a number of different resources that entrepreneurs can use to help guide them in company valuation. I've never heard of most of these sites, and it is exciting to know that they exist. Specifically, the blog post talks about the vastly different manner in which VCs approach valuation, and how a start up can avoid the legal jargon, and diluting their own control of the company with the advent of VC funding.


The Value of Free Internet Comparison Tools

With Australian firm Pixel Capital's purchase of for almost $140k USD, it is clear that the free online tools (to drive traffic, and ultimately, business) is an extremely valuable tool. The company offers a free version of an online financial tool that can be used for tracking purchases and expenses, and monitoring other financial activity in one's everyday life. With the ownership of the credit website, Pixel Capital can now target the traffic that utilizes those free online financial tools with targeted offers and advertisements. Additionally, the company can provide promotions and opportunities for users seeking specific financial services, and pair their offerings with those needed by the users of the free online tools. An excellent idea, and a good strategy as discussed in class, aimed at increasing qualified traffic for the purpose of ultimately driving users that are qualified and perfect candidates for the financial services.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Phone Has a New Function

If you think that the phone has it all these days—music player, apps, reader, navigator, think again. Google has introduced a new feature to the already multifaceted phone: it can now be used as a wallet.

Google launched a “new” concept, which it calls Google Wallet (although it is apparently a relatively well and widely used concept in Asia and parts of Europe). The idea behind Google Wallet is simple—it is looking to replace your physical wallet and change the way consumer spend by discouraging cash-based transactions. Google Wallet stores the data of your credit card on the mobile phone (or you can transfer from your checking account to the Google Wallet account) in a quest to make transactions easier. They claim this will cut out the time spent fumbling for credit cards, getting discounts on coupons, adding points to your rewards system cards etc. Google Wallet aims to be a one-stop alternative to a wallet—therefore, when you pay at CVS for example, you can use the Wallet to simultaneously pay, add points to your account, and redeem any discounts or offers that could be specifically tailored for you at the time of check-out.

Security of course, is of prime concern with new features such as Google Wallet. It uses a new technology—Near Field Communications software, which claims to be secure and allows activation only through a personalized four-digit code, much like using your ATM pin.

The main problem with this concept is that it is currently very limited in offering—only Sprint’s Google Nexus S phone has the technology. In addition, most businesses are still to adopt the form of payment to process transactions and have not installed the technology widely. Other problems of course are issues around security, especially if the phone is lost or the data is somehow hacked into while a person is actually carrying out a transaction. And on a practical level, you will only have a Wallet until your phone has battery!

While there is a definite future for such a technology with all things progressing towards mobile, security and logistics will remain key concerns that Google will have to continue improving upon.


Financial Advisors benefit from Social Media

As mentioned on my first post, I joined Twitter to follow article of interest relating to the financial industry.  I came across this article on my Twitter feed and find it useful for anyone in SALES and looking to connect on a more personal level with their clients and prospects.

The More Friends the Better

For anyone in business and most importantly sales, we tend to forgot the core of what makes people buy what we are selling.  At times it has nothing to do with the product or service, nothing to do with how great we are at selling, and nothing to do with pricing.  People buy from people they like.  That's very broad, but to like someone you have to feel that person either shares in the same beliefs you do, have a similar background as you, or feel you have their best interest above any other.  Using social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin, allows advisers and salespeople to develop a relationship with their clients therefore ensuring that they remain clients. 

As with any scenario, there exists pros and cons to using social media as a financial professional.  As the article mentions, regulatory supervision is just one, and in my opinion least important, cons associated with social media.  Your words, friends, pictures, and just about anything you post will be available and scrutinized by clients and prospectus. This leaves the salesperson extremely exposed to second guessing and may even propose the clients to sever their relationships.  As I mentioned previously, people like to do business with people they like and can relate to.  How much in common do you have your clients if you have Facebook pictures enjoying summers in the Hamptons, FourSquaring that you are going to dinner at Jean Georges and Twetting how great your new Maseratti is.  Unless your target clients enjoy those things too, this would be negative for the relationship.

In my opinion, Social Media is a great tool to market your skills, products and services but you need to keep in mind that what you allow others to see and read about you will result in others passing judgement.  As a financial advisor, I believe the best use of social media is to gather information not distribute it.  By following your clients and prospects online, you can uncover what time of person they are and use it to relate better to them.  There is an abundance of information about others online and you can gather it to connect with your clients and align your interest with theirs.  By using social media to gather information about your clients and prospects, your relationships with them will get stronger and will be difficult to separate regardless of what product or service you are selling.

Miguel Gonzalez
EMBA 2012
VP - Investments
JP Morgan Chase


Bing and Decide?

This past week it was revealed that Microsoft is trying to determine what the brand positioning for Bing should be.

In June 2009, Microsoft launched a slew of commercials and positioning that positions Microsoft as a "decision engine" not a "search engine". Any consumer knows that any search result yields a lot of information. Google has an enormous footprint on the search market and Bing has a much smaller share. It makes sense that Bing tried to differentiate itself and tried to assist consumers in making purchasing decisions. And, as a consumer, I'd actually have to agree then when searching to make a product purchase I did find Bing to be more helpful that Google.

Clearly the debate over calling Bing a decision engine gives us some insight into the minds of top executives. It sounds like their strategy is not paying off enough in dividends. Maybe they realized how much money is on the table and how they aren't a large enough share. Or maybe the Yahoo! and Bing merger didn't go as smoothly as planned. So now, executives but decide what to do-- keep the old branding or develop new brand positioning. Wouldn't it be nice if they could just "bing and decide"... or maybe google will provide a better answer.

For more on the article:


Want a career in Social Media?

This infographic seems the most appropriate for the class. It shows the growth of social media and various the statics of what it takes to be a social strategist. I think if you are in the class, you already believe in the future of social marketing, but I am sure a little assurance doesn't hurt :)


Saturday, September 24, 2011

A website worthy of its social media traffic?

After class today I googled my company and saw both title tag and meta tag violations. Incidentally, the meta tag highlights our donation pitch which is great news for me (the chief fundraiser), but bad news for our primary online goal (sell tickets to fabulous plays).

Like so many other small businesses, my organization aspires to create a vibrant/engaging/dynamic/“insert hip buzzword here” online presence. Our resources are primarily targeted towards social media initiatives – which are useful for updating our audience about our plays, behind the scene stories, and performance discounts. The end game of social media, of course, is to drive the traffic to our website so they will purchase a ticket or subscription. With that in mind, it is interesting that we put so much effort into our social media presence, yet neglect to keep our own website as relevant, up-to-date, and searchable as it should be.

The article below speaks to this very topic. Organizations will not reach their online potential without a website that can support (and capitalize from) the social media traffic.


More Trouble for Groupon IPO--WSJ

In my job I've worked with Gilt Groupe on event promotions, but I also like to shop there. In fact, between Buywithme, Gilt, Gilt Taste, Ruelala, and countless other online sales groups, I get at least 10 emails a day notifying me of the next sale, the next opportunity to buy.

One place I never buy from is Groupon. It seems that when people talk about an online sales "bubble" Groupon always comes up. I thought it was more about the offerings, but there is a lot more going on--as this article on the IPO and significant managament problems highlights. It seems like quite a leap for the company valuation to include full "booking" costs for experiences...completely ignoring the fact that a significant portion of the proceeds go to partners. That this differential accounting led to a 400 million dollar overstatement of revenues seems crazy, and incredibly misleading. Now it seems that the management side is experiencing problems as well, with the COO leaving after only months in the job---headed back to Google of all places.


Pinkberry’s Secret: Director of Digital is More Important than Director of Brand Advertising or Brand Marketing!

Who would’ve thought that the importance of a digit­­al presence and especially a strong social media triumphs any other traditional marketing channels. According to Pinkberry’s Director of Digital, Pamela Naumes, in her interview with Business Insider, “the company has decided to really look for a director of digital as their focus, and as their way to show that the social space–the digital space–is one which is becoming more and more critically important for brands moving forward.” The company never hired a Director of brand advertising or a director of brand marketing, because they believed that Social media is the most cost-effective method to reach out to and engage with their customers on a daily basis.

It seems that their plan worked. Pinkberry’s frozen yogurt brand has established a great following of customers online. On the Restaurant Social Media Index, RSMI, they earned the 11th spot, which is the highest of any frozen yogurt chain. They are right behind Chipotle and beat Subway and the Cheesecake Factory. RSMI is sponsored by DigitalCoCo and powered by third-party tracking systems such as Klout and Social Insights, and measures the influence of each brand against others each quarter. It is a great tool for restaurants to see where they stand against each other in the social media world. To view the top hundred list go to ( Finally, to view the full interview with Pinkberry’s Director of Digital with Business Insider go to: (

Now it is time for me to grab my small chocolate yogurt with chocolate shavings and raspberries from Pinkberry!


Facts to Fiction

I was recently reading the article, The next Big Headache for Digital Publishers” which was based on the integration of Wikipedia articles to Google’s News Entries. If Wikipedia becomes the default, it will become the leading source of information on the web, easily winning precedence over news organizations. Why is this newsworthy? Well, I was thinking about information we are exposed to and what that means to our society, our future. If Wikipedia, a website that aggregates and collects information that everyday people submit (no credentials necessary) becomes our default source of information, what kind of information are we gathering? Sure, they have their own team of ‘fact checkers’ but in taking the role of news leader, and with the immense amount of minute-to-minute information, will they continue to be so thorough? Will we base our thoughts and opinions on oftentimes illegitimate or unconfirmed information? Many people argue we do that now- with blogs. The Huffington Post is one of the most popular sources of information- and sure we know they’re opinions, but does that even matter anymore? Have we shifted from a fact based data sharing center--where news organizations, with trained researchers and journalists, are required to report fairly and without bias—into a-one-for-all era.Will neutral and balanced journalism be a dying profession in the next 50 years or will Wikipedia and blogs realize their power and begin to make room for ‘factual information’? Perhaps they will host a ‘Here are the facts’ section so we are encouraged to form our own opinions as well.

What’s next for Google’s search method is critical in understanding how we, regular people, realize and collect information and what type of information that is. Looking forward to seeing how this pans out…and determining whether Google really can change how we think of the world.


Friday, September 23, 2011

e-commerce - what strategy for health and beauty cosmetics?

Any firm which is strong on its original market has to define a strategy for its international development. The question of this development has to be addressed at two (parallel) levels: the first one is to find the most appropriate local channel of "traditional" distribution in each new country where we want to start, in line with the worldwide strategy. The second challenge is to find the most appropriate digital marketing strategy in these new countries - still in line with the worldwide marketing strategy and with the image of the brands.

My company is selling Cosmetics and Hair-Care products. It was created fifty year ago by a pharmacist in France, and our quote is “from Health to Beauty”. The first market is the 22,000 French pharmacies. These pharmacies are independent, privately owned, the products are sold on the shelves but any sale person is very well educated in order to provide strong advises - there is even a legal obligation to get anytime a pharmacist in the store. No comparison with the big drugstores chains in the US where you can find chips and diet Coke next to prescription drug corner. So we had to address the strong question of our distribution strategy when we decided to launch the business in the US. We decided to sell to the Dispensing (Dermatologists) market and we convinced the headquarter to sell as well to the retail/ mass market through “upscale” and urban drugstores like the new Duane Reade with their Look Boutiques.

Very soon the US team understood the tremendous potential of e-commerce in the US since this market is growing fast and can be very profitable - if the additional margin we take from the traditional retailers more than offsets costs of the B to C distribution. The challenge is to convince the top management in Europe, since there the strategy is to develop the proximity with the pharmacies. The Group try to limit in Europe the sales of our products online arguing the lack of individualized advices to the consumers. So we are in front of two different strategies in two main continents which can hamper each other business.

A good plan for our US affiliate would consist in launching first the e-commerce for our most “mass” hair-care brand, and launch as a second step the more “technical” Cosmetics line. In the meantime the team in Europe will see all the advantages of doing e-commerce.


Local Search - A Growing Opportunity

One of the most efficient forms of online marketing is Paid Search. It generates one of the highest ROIs across digital channels and is an effective tool for both brand awareness and customer acquisition. While paid search can prove to be costly for small business owners, a cheaper option is optimizing their webpages for organic search. However, this space has become more and more saturated and harder to obtain the valuable top real estate.

With all this competition, how can a small business break through the clutter? Some say that optimizing for local search is now the low hanging fruit. A recent article in iMedia Connection depicts this situation in the following excerpt:

"Take a look at a search query for "gift shops San Diego," which shows results for Google Places above the routine 10-pack of web page results (an evolution from a phase when several local results would take up 30 to 40 percent of the 10-pack). Because of the convenience, many searchers click here first. This means that no matter how well organically optimized you are, and even if you're sitting on the top organic search spot, you might receive fewer and fewer visits from searchers who seem to favor local results. That's why it's important for local businesses to be optimized for both local and organic search results."

It will be interesting to see what Google will do to change the landscape of search as mobile search becomes increasingly popular. Perhaps local search may become so large that it will have its own sub-segment similar to Google images. In any case, if you own your small business, don't forget to optimize locally.

For steps on how to optimize your website for local search :


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facebook Timeline

There's been a lot of commentary this week about the new developments to the Facebook user experience. The bigger headline, however, is the revenue growth that is expected from media content-- music, movies, tv-- incorporated in the soon-to-be released Facebook Timeline.

Fast Company Magazine explores the issue in an article entitled "New Facebook Timeline Is All About Discovery and Explosive Revenue Growth." In truth, the Timeline is actually pretty cool. Fast Company describes it as "scrapbook-on-steroids" of your life (see link below). What is interesting is Facebook's plan on incorporating social apps and tracking of media tastes.

By partnering with media companies like Spotify and Hulu, the hope is to increase consumption by the Facebook user and shared content beyond just personal photos. Just as you once went to your friend's house to browse CD collections, the hope is you will now soon do this on your friend's Facebook page.

It will be interesting to see how this all pans out. Will Facebook be forced play nice with iTunes or will it develop its own media sourcing? What will this mean for our privacy or is it already gone? It all remains to be seen...

Fast Company Magazine:


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A new advertising channel

Traditional advertising methods such as TV, newspapers, yellow pages, magazines and banners are back in past. Nowadays the era of Internet advertising has come and has been spread around the global network at no time.  Each company created its website and started to promote its products there or via global searchers such as Google, Yahoo etc. Now you even can use special sources (e.g. adwords) to post your ad and draw attention of consumers.
  All these channels of information distribution are very efficient and relatively not very expensive, however, companies are still looking for the new channels of promotion. Mobile has become a highly popular source of information. Now consumer carry their smart phones wherever they go and can use them whenever they want. Usually when you are staying in line or waiting for an appointment you can take a smart phone out of your pocket and start look for something on Internet through the cell phone.  However, when we surf and try to figure out locations, restaurants, bars, stores we do not necessarily look for something in particular. Lets say after a meeting I decided to have lunch in a new place, so I went on the Internet through my smart phone and just started randomly choose places. In this case I am likely to go to any place, but all restaurants want to be those 'any places'.
  An advertising mobile channel is going to be launched in order to attract consumers when they are on their smart phones. According to statistics, now people tend to spend their time on the apps more then on their PCs, so may be there is a potential to grow marketing infrastructure through mobile which will be more costless and even more efficient than online ads on PCs. Google has already introduced the way to implement this idea by including an option to drop-down menu for “mobile devices with full Internet browsers.” For using it one has to have an account on AdWords and should follow a regular keyword finding procedure, but will target to mobile users as well. This mechanism is not yet well automated because a company still does not know how much  it should spend regionally. Google can only give a number of ads a company may get for its overall budget, but there is no way to find out how much a keyword costs in a particular region of the country or the globe.
  However, there is a huge potential for the improvement in mobile ad distribution, because a company can catch a consumer when he is on his way, when he is ready for moving and getting to the store, purchasing and consuming. Moreover, frequently it turns out that people are so tightened in time that they simply need to find ANY place that matches their demand, so at this point there is nothing easier than to draw their attention to the store/restaurant/bar.
   Overall, I consider this idea a great opportunity for marketing. A company knows its target audience and can get it when potential customers have a free minute during the day or are going somewhere and have a will to stop by at any point on their way. With mobile ad this is the best time to make them become YOUR customer.

Based on an article


Monday, September 19, 2011

Online Marketing: a huge market still largely untapped

In the current technological environment, consumers have come to expect an ease of access to information which can be met with digital content; this trend is a growing market that advertising and marketing industries can easily capitalize upon. This shift in technology reliance has forced major MSOs to increase their network capacity and upgrade their infrastructures to accomodate consumer expectations for online streaming of traditional news and media, movies, popular TV shows, and sports events.

In 2010 alone, digital advertising revenues from the major sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) amounted to roughly $1.3 Billion. These online sites include specific sports sites (USTA, PGA, etc), ESPN, and Youtube. Even with these numbers, there still exists a large inventory of unsold ad space reflecting only a partial online adoption and "lack of focus" by content owners and distributors. As the industry continues to evolve and more contet is delivered online, we will see increases in online marketing/advertising revenue across the board. Obviously, this is a market that we should all be taking advantage of!



Saturday, September 17, 2011

Social Media Sponsorships in the Performing Arts

A recent study done by social media advertising company IZEA shows that blog posts and videos have the highest value for marketers and publishers. As the market for social media continue to grow, it is not surprising to see that marketer are showing more interests social media sponsorship. According to the study, only 23.2% of the marketers have sponsored an online video, but 50.2% said they would use such a social media sponsorship. Moreover, of all the elements such as quality and sentiment of content, cost-per-click, shares, cost per acquisition and more, quality of a post was the most important measure of success: 80% of respondents saying it was very important or important.

In addition to the activities presented above, there is also a monetary value on the different types of social media sponsorships. Blog posts and videos were the mentions with the most value, calculated to be $114.71 and $112.46, respectively.

As a marketer for classical music and performing arts organizations, the message above shows some opportunities for the market I am interested in. Most major orchestras, opera houses, and music festivals do have some type of online presence such as Facebook, twitter, and many organizations have their own Youtube channel. Given the nature of the product, Youtube has been an effective tool for audience to learn more about the orchestras, artists, and the performances in a “less intimidating” setting (new concert goers do find it uncomfortable and “awkward” being in the concert hall when first going to concerts). However all these tactics only target people who are already aware or interested in the shows, those who are not aware or have not yet had a chance to be introduced by performing arts or classical music are still remain untargeted. Social media sponsorships on blog posts and videos are actually great means for this particular sector because many organizations already their Youtube channel with high quality clips of the performances. While most online ads for the majority of the performing arts organizations remain “pictures or words only”, maybe it is time to think about putting videos out there—a more direct way to introduce the product to those who only surf on web.


The Growing "Work-from-home" Component in the US workforce

A recent study/survey has confirmed the growing interest in corporate America for supporting employees as they work from home. Surprisingly, a majority of Fortune 500 firms have stated that they plan to increase the number of employees working from home, and more than 56% of decision-makers actually believe that working from home makes workers more productive!

While data is showing strong productivity for many workers as they telecommute, the added benefit is the perceived value that employers are supporting the work-life balance. In the past 10 years, workers in the US have been growing frustrated with companies that push for higher hours, and try to squeeze more and more productivity out of the workforce. Thus, allowing employees to work from home supports the work-life balance, confirming to employees that their firms value the personal lives of workers.

This trend supported more than 26 million workers in the US in 2010, with more working from home in 2011 thus far. The trend is helping companies cut costs, improve efficiency, boost productivity, and encourage morale and employee satisfaction. Hopefully, this trend will continue and become a strong component of the US workforce! For more, visit


Infographics On Steroids

Infographics seem to be more and more common, and more and more beautiful and bloated nowadays. This one done by Ad Age (with MBA Online and data provided by Magid Generational Strategies) is a good example: After staring at it for ten minutes, I was still having a hard time drawing any meaningful conclusions, maybe because it's very tall and the key is at the there's a lot of scrolling required to remember what all the icons mean. But it sure is pretty. I noticed that MBA Online provided some code for embedding the infographic in your own web site, which certainly makes sense from an SEO perspective. More and more, web marketers seem to be adding infographics to their mix of digital assets, and I wouldn't be surprised if users start to get a little bit of infographic overload.


How to Leverage Social Networking to Get Your Next Job

How to Leverage Social Networking to Get Your Next Job <---Click Here

I find this article as a great starter to my blog since it sets the tone for future posts. Most people know the importance of Facebook and Linkedin for networking purposes, but I will introduce you to more creative ways to utilize social media to find your next job.

Twitter, in my opinion, is a media site that is under-utilized for job search. When people think of Twitter, they think of postings which include what they are doing at that time, re-postings of interesting articles, etc... (Similar to a blog). It was only recently that my wife introduced me to Twitter as a resource for job searching. Consider this, to be considered an insider in the industry you are looking for a job in, you must stay connected to numerous websites, magazines, and forums. The easiest way and most efficient way to to do this by opening a Twitter account and following all these magazines, websites and other news articles relating to your target industry. For example, I can now via Twitter follow and read articles relating to the financial industry on the New York Times, WallStreet Journal, Barrons, Seeking Alpha, and Bloomberg. In addition, Twitter allows me to follow industry personalities such as Susie Orman, Jim Cramer, and Warren Buffett. All this information is available to read through my Twitter application on my Blackberry whether I am on the bus going to NYC or at my lunch break. Having access to all this information was impossible prior to Twitter.

My next blog post will cover the very unique way to use Linkedin for job search.


Consumer behavior is shifting

I am working on Social media project at work. We are trying to use social media i.e. Face book and Twitter to tap online market. I was doing some research and found this very interesting article done my Mckinsey. Article talks about shift in Consumer behavior. Smartphone and social networks are changing the way consumers are reacting to marketing promotions and platform


How Social Media is Transforming Fashion Week Coverage

An article cropped up on a couple of days ago about how social media transformed the coverage of Fashion Week, which recently invaded New York City. What was once considered a niche event of interest only to those directly involved in the fashion industry has suddenly become newsworthy to the general public. Even publications like the Wall Street Journal are in on the act.

Several different explanations are cited as the reasons for the increased coverage via social media platforms: growing demand from readers for play-by-play updates, sneak peeks backstage, and firsthand raw footage and/or images that give followers all over the world the sense of really being there.

What I really find most striking about this article is how obvious it all seems. It’s almost unbelievable that it has taken this long for the fashion industry and the journalists that cover it to catch up to the growing dominance of social media, especially given the proliferation of fashion bloggers and photographers, many of whom have managed to cultivate international fan bases (Ex: The Sartorialist).

However, what I did find interesting was the mention of the new challenges and opportunities that the addition of social media presents for reporters. One of the reporters from the Wall Street Journal commented on how difficult it was to find a balance between capturing those play-by-play moments that readers are most interested in, while also not missing or being distracted from the actual event. Although nowhere near the level of these reporters, as a freelance dance critic myself, I can definitely relate to how challenging it can be to be taking notes and analyzing parts of the performance, while simultaneously trying to get a sense of the show as a whole and also have the opportunity to enjoy what I’m watching. Throw in having to take photos and video while uploading the content to Facebook and Twitter while also keeping an eye out for the next look coming down the runway and you have yourself one incredibly overwhelming job.

Despite these new challenges, as there are virtually no constraints on the amount of content that can be uploaded through social media, reporters now have another outlet for all of the information they gather that didn’t make the cut for the physical newspaper or magazine. Although the information shared through social media doesn’t translate directly into dollars, the reporters in this article agreed that their involvement with social media sites has changed the way the general public views their publications. The popularity of Facebook and Twitter allows them to reach a wider audience and establish stronger ties to their readership.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Gamification Summit NYC 2011

I attended Gamification Summit in NYC over the last two days. There was great talk and discussion on how gamification is rapidly growing and impacting many important aspects of businesses, including consumer engagement, performance enhancement of enterprises, driving behavior, loyalty/engagement programs, and many other innovative and emerging marketing methods. For those who are not familiar with the term, in a nutshell, gamification is using game mechanics and dynamics to change behavior in a non-game setting. We talked about it in class, but location-based applications such as Foursquare, SCVNGR would be great examples of using game mechanics (i.e. badges, rewards, leaderboard, levels) in a real world.

Most talk involved how gamification is becoming increasingly bigger part of social media marketing. According to Garner Group, more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes. In fact, by 2015, 70% of the Global 2000 largest companies will be using gamification. As you can see from the graph above, spending on gamification as part of social media marketing is expected to explode over the next half decade (source and more info).

One of the speaker was the CEO of 42 Entertainment. I'm sure Professor Kagan is familar since he is in the entertainment industry. Check out their case studies -- including pre-launch of Dark Knight -- and see how they used gamification to drive up interest and consumer engagement prior to launches. Mashable also has a good information as to how to gamify your marketing efforts.

In closing, check out this video to see gamification at work! In the days of social media and digital marketing, I believe FUN is a must!

- Sam Ahn


Online Marketing for Hotels

How does an independent hotel differentiate itself online in an industry that has largely become commoditized? Although a little to standardized, the hotelier digital marketing breakdown for 2012 has some interesting incites on the relevance of different distribution channels for the industry, and shows some awareness of the problems OTAs pose for hotels.

Yet, it fails to address how hotels can compete with online intermediaries whose core competencies are precisely online marketing, and who are able to allocate large percentages of their operational expenses to digital distribution. The OTAs have continued to capture large percentages of room night revenues and have become some of the most recognizable travel brands. So, does it really matter if in 2012 a hotel allocates 20% of its online marketing budget to redesigning its website or 25% to SEM, if the conversion happens on Expedia’s site?


Augmented Reality to drive Machine Learning

An interesting article on how the growth of Augmented Reality will further advancements in machine learning. As we demand more from AR applications, computers will need to get better at understanding more about our very unstructured world. Right now AR can layer information over our field of view to help us find the closest subway station or tell us more about a specific monument but tomorrows AR using screens embedded in our glasses or contact lenses will be able to apply a digital layer over many more things that we come in contact with. Imagine looking an interacting with a AR-enabled movie poster, or seeing someone Facebook profile when meeting him. These are examples of the types of AR applications we have to look forward to. And as our appetite for a more interactive environment grows so will the computational capabilities of computers needed to provide these future technologies.


A movie with many lessons, one being - Responsibility of online social celebrities

Original posted on my tumblr account here

In midst of the craziness of work and school, I found some time to go catch the movie Contagion yesterday. I believe everybody active on the social networks should watch the movie. There are tons of lessons to be learned from the movie, but the one that I took away to be the most important is the responsibility of an individual that has a huge social following online.

Now I am not going to spoil it for all of you who haven't watched the movie, but to set the context, the character played by Jude Law in the movie is the Guy Kawasaki (not the best comparison but that's what comes to mind) kind of influencer in the movie. He has a video blog where he claims to be the source of the truth that is hidden by the government. There is a crisis in the world and he seems to be the one that uncovers it before anybody else and his blog following jumps to 12 Million unique visitors a day. Not to mention, now he becomes the center of attention of many in the government since he could stir things up at the time of crisis that could lead to a full on panic. However, until the first half of the movie, this character is honest to God individual, that is here to serve his followers and bring them the truth, as bitter as it maybe.

The twist happens when the crisis hits full on and certain hedge fund managers realize that this character might have some information that they could benefit from (hedge fund managers portrayed as blood sucking parasites - again. Wonder why? :-)). He is enticed by the potential to stray a group of his followers with the information that, instead of containing the panic, could lead to more panic. At first, he disposes of the proposition. But as it gets clear that there might be a point where the situation of crisis might be averted by some sound judgement calls from the administration, this character decides to monetize his following.

Now here is the lesson for those active in the social networks. Today, you might have a following of individuals that come to you for knowledge of what is happening in the world. And today, you might just share the news about Google launching +1 and Microsoft launching Win 8. But there will come a time, a time of crisis, where the same followers will look at you to give them the true information, along with some guidance. Now, if you have nothing to provide at that point but just an opinion, please state that it is an opinion. But under no circumstances betray the trust of these people. You are not just doing disservice to your followers but to the entire premise of social network.

So my recommendation, go watch the movie. It is a great movie, and you will learn a thing or two about the animal instincts in humans in the time of crisis. And please, be honest to you the people that look up to you! Do not try to monetize being a role model.

Thank you!


The Migration of Video Content to Digital

An article in eMarketer yesterday that discussed the adoption of online and mobile platforms by sports leagues is a reminder that video content is increasingly transitioning to digital platforms. Many of these sports leagues are finding that digital viewership is not cannibalizing traditional viewership as audiences use different screens depending on the time of day, where they are, etc. and many will also multi-task and use multiple screens as once. The gains from adopting online platforms can be great as evidenced by the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues each of the top four sport leagues received from paid content, advertising and other revenue from their digital properties in 2010.

In the case of sports, the evidence is pretty strong that digital platforms are not replacing traditional platforms. This makes sense intuitively as sports is something that people prefer to watch in real-time and offering content on more platforms captures more viewers such as those who are at work and don’t have access to a tv or those in different time zones and countries. I think a similar argument can be made for news broadcasts. On the other hand, I find it difficult to make this argument for traditional tv shows (except for shows like American Idol) although I have not seen clear evidence that suggests that tv viewership is being cannibalized by digital platforms. In this respect, I do sympathize with tv content owners.

However, whether we like it or not, everything that we do is moving towards being digital including watching tv and sports is an example of this. The question is how quickly this will happen and whether we as marketers can successfully monetize and measure it.


An Opportunity Missed?

It was interesting that Amazon missed such a colossal opportunity—to capitalize the growing online retail market in India. The key would have been to alter their business model to adjust for consumer preferences and understand how consumers purchase online. A doppelgänger, Flipkart, has managed to do just that and created a system where customers could purchase online and yet pay only on delivery, either by cash or by card. Low labor costs, of course, have been immensely invaluable in setting up such a system of collection and delivery. Flipkart also doesn’t rely on the traditional courier services—instead they have their own delivery department, making it easier and more comfortable for the customer to interact with the company, especially in cases where they are not familiar with online retail.

The key will be to keep up with competition—everyone seems to be joining the “e-commerce” platform and creating products and services that are similar to already successful and established ones. Currently, Flipkart’s biggest threat still remains Amazon—but the key to success will lie in which is able to understand and cater to the Indian consumer in particular.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Online Travel Phenomenon

Online travel has become an increasingly popular industry with even Google launching its travel engine for flights and hotels (, Online travel agencies are trying to differentiate themselves on something other than just price. Expedia launched its flash sale site with Groupon for its "Getaways" experience and Orbitz is focusing on its Facebook page launching giveaways for luxury vacations. In addition, Kayak has released a Mac application that lets users plan their vacations. The end goal of these initiatives is to both increase awareness of their brands and hopefully engage and acquire new customers.

Among the clutter of online travel there are a few standouts. The usual suspects include Tripadvisor and Travelzoo. Hipmunk was mentioned in class but here are two that I wanted to share with you:

Autoslash -
This website allows you to lock in your lowest rates for rental cars. Once you book on this site, it automatically searches for lower rates than the one you've locked in until your travel date. If a sale appears later for a lower rate, it automatically cancels your previous reservation and locks you into the new rate. Amazing right?

Plnnr -
This site instantly helps you plan itineraries tailored to your taste. Pick the location, date, theme (outdoor, with kids, best of), intensity (here to rest, here to see everything), and luxury level, and a day by day itinerary is crafted for you. Further fine tune it by preference weightings and you're off to a great start.

Other diamonds in the rough include wanderfly, gogobot, and gtrot. With travel becoming much more social it will be interesting to see which of these sites gain the scalability to become the next facebook for travel.


Social Media Marketing 101: Platforms for achieving the right objective

It's natural that when one thinks about social media - the number one response is Facebook, followed by Twitter. But as social media becomes more and more prevalent in our society, it's important to consider the objective one is trying to achieve thru a social media platform.

Will you be happy with brand exposure - or desire communication back and forth with your customer? Drive traffic to your company's website - or maxmize search engine optimization?

For example, most people know that Twitter allows a brand or person to communicate with its customers or fans by analyzing individual's own tweets, but Twitter can also act to drive traffic to your site if done carefully.

Interestingly enough, beyond Facebook and Twitter - YouTube continues to rank high across all objectives: brand exposure, customer communication, search engine optimization and brand awareness. Why? Video remains to be a powerful medium that cuts across all forms of communication. Use it to showcase your brand via "advertising" thru videos or mini TV ads. Or instead use videos (thru the hyperlinks) to rank your brand higher in search engine results.

Regardless, the intent of whatever social medium you choose - it is important to not choose just the current "fad" but the platform that helps to meet the objective you are searching for.

Now stop reading this blog and go post something on Facebook! =)

Link to article:


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An OPTional Facebook

Facebook constantly experiments with new features plugged into it's interface in order to increase consumers' interest or at least keep it stable. No matter whether this or that change is preferred by facebook users, the company does not seem to try do a research on their expectations. However, this absence of action is not necessary because a consumer has a choice whether or not use a new 'button'.

An article "Facebook launches subscribe button for following anyone's updates" is mainly a new tool on facebook that helps you to subscribe any updates from any person who may not even be your 'facebook friend'. Now instead of clicking on somebody's profile and guess what he or she might be posting at the moment you simply can follow any updates this person posts. This idea does not seem to be new though. On Twitter you can do the same thing and be aware of everything that is on mind the person who you follow. At the first glance, the whole Twitter's concept is copied and inserted into facebook platform. We just take the core of the platform and transform it into the part of even better core of another platform. So now every person you want to 'read' will be posted on your news feed page. 

However, Facebook went a little bit farer than simply copying stuff from Twitter. It sorted out news for the subscriber that he/she wants to follow. Lets say, I want to know how is the best friend of my boyfriend doing and I don't know him in person, I might subscribe for only the statuses he posts, but I want to see neither the games he shares nor the pictures he puts in his albums. A good feature for those who want to follow real people, not the brand. Here I mean that if I am a big fan of Madonna I may 'like' her page and follow all updates that appear on her page, but this doesn't mean that I follow particularly Madonna. This means that I read those updates which accompany Madonna's brand, not her personally. So in this case subscription is slightly different thing from 'Like' button.

Is this idea good? Well, as long as it is optional, which under facebook terminology means that everyone who is not interested to be subscribed may remove this function from his/her page, so that others cannot follow his/her updates. On the other hand, you may not subscribe anyone so that you do not mess up your own news feed page. I feel neutral to this idea and even see how it can benefit those who necessarily want to be 'online' with every person they even are not acquainted with. Moreover, it can benefit those who are subscribed because one should be proud of the fact that lots of unknown people will to read his/her posts. However, here I see a huge flaw. Facebook positions itself as a platform which is designed for those users who want to control their own profiles. Well, this doesn't not sound control. Lets say, I do want to try and feel that a bunch of guys are interested in my updates, but what if somebody who is even not my facebook friends subscribes me in order to find any compromising info? What if a company I am going to apply is interested in following me swearing in my posts? Of course, users are warned that they better don't post compromising photos on facebook or be pc in their status updates, but most of them do not mind doing that. There are plenty of opportunities to know what a person is just by subscribing him on facebook. 

As for me, I am not going to remover this button from my page. Not because I don't want to have followers (I guess everybody wants to be recognized), but simply because I have nothing to hide. And when one has nothing to hide he is usually at a lower risk of being compromised.  


Ad Networks, the hidden cost for advertisers

You can't skim articles on digital related ventures without stumbling across something about an ad network. That's essentially a company that will buy or sell advertising inventory online based on demographic or psychographic characteristics. For example you might work with BET Digital Ad Group to target African Americans, or Modern Living Media (part of Value Click) to target individuals looking for home improvement. Then, after a while you wonder why you'd even go to an ad network instead of an ad exchange -- which has access to inventory on all these vertical platforms.

In the recent article from Ad Age "Let a Thousand Ad Networks Bloom" the author encourages the advent of more and more ad networks. More and more choice should increase the competition and drive down prices. And, all of this choice is advantageous for companies that want to to increase their brand awareness or who have the technology to track the effectiveness of such campaigns.

What no one talks about is how much work it is to use ad networks. Have you ever tried to work with one? In order to tell if your banner ad for a cherry red shirt results in a sale you need to pixel (or add tech code) on your company's conversion pages. Imagine the time and resources requires to open up 100 various conversion pages and dropping Ad Network X's pixels on it. It is labor intensive and a small typo can render all the results invalid. What's worse is what happens when you decide that you dont like the results of working with network X? You've gotta start all over again and add 100 new pixels to your conversion pages to work with network Y. This becomes a vicious cycle and one that takes immense work for your employees. Ultimately all of this hard work and use of resources doesn't provide companies with more choice for their ad dollars. Instead it makes it more difficult and locks you into working with just one network (what a great business strategy).

So ultimately while maybe more choice is nice, it is a bit ironic that it actually creates less choice.



How to Create a Viral Launch Page

I am currently working on a web start up that I hope to launch in the next 6 months. We are doing extensive market research and starting to grapple with the biggest question that it seems almost every web start up faces: now that we feel we've identified a service that people will actually (hopefully) want to use, how do we reach users and build a community? And then once we've actually gotten a sizable user database, say, 100,000 users or whatever metric is appropriate to your particular service/product, how do you get that to grow to 1 million users? The digital marketing landscape is an intimidating and potentially expensive and problem-fraught area for new websites to tackle. Do you pay for Google Adwords? Too expensive or not appropriate in the early stages of a new site?

And then you read about the sites that have gone from 0 to 10,000 users within their first week of launching. One of the ways these sites have built an initial frenzy of excitement, collected email addresses, gained PR, and built a "brand" even before activation of their sites has been through viral launch or landing pages. A launch or landing page for a start up typically includes anywhere from a name, email address box, and perhaps a photo, all the day up to a product description, signup forms, social media links, and more. Some are mysterious and exclusive, others informative. Ultimately, however, they allow a new site to start marketing to customers and building a user database before even having something to offer them. If the launch page is done properly and gets the right attention and PR, its like running a race by getting a couple laps ahead of your competition before the start gun goes off.

There is an absolutely phenomenal post on viral launch pages for those of you who are currently working on or planning to work on your own website or just curious, courtesy of Smashing Magazine:


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gaming as an Online Communications Strategy for Nonprofits

Confession: I still have, and use, a TV/VCR…that I purchased with the money from my bat mitzvah, thank you very much. I’m a complete luddite.

Thankfully, working in fundraising at a nonprofit theatre, most of my donors prefer a handwritten note to an online interaction. As the industry expands efforts to communicate with the next generation of theatre-goers and philanthropists, a lot of interesting innovations are cropping up. Nevertheless, I fear that industry is still dominated by tragic facebook posts like: “First rehearsal! Are you excited?” or “Gonna be a great show. Buy tickets!” The engagement is low, the educating information is non-existent, and the call-to-action is boring. I think the main culprit in these poor posts is that nonprofits embrace online media because it’s seemingly free and “anyone can do it” ... and the strategy stops there.

I read an interesting article today (link below) that introduces a new strategy that some nonprofits are exploring: gaming. This direction definitely is engaging, the call-to-action is a bit more interesting, and the opportunity to be informative is high although has the potential to carry the boring weight of an educational game (but, c’mon, who didn’t love Oregon Trail!).

My jury is still out. These games are certainly expensive to create, and I wonder if this is the best way to stretch nonprofit dollars. But, anything that helps to broaden the online audience in an engaging, memorable, and meaningful way is worth exploring.

That said, I don’t know if a game where a Stage Manager has to corral a room full of “method” actors really tells the story my donors want to experience.


Digital marketing meets CPG

The use of QRC codes to enhance marketing communications direct to consumers is now being utilized in the beverage industry. Not only is this valuable to bring the next generation of soft drink 'under-the-cap' promotions, but this allows for a higher degree of consumer understanding and targeting. Plus with the codes showing up all over alcohol packages, the possibilities for engagement with captive (and buzzed consumers) could make for some very interesting promotional campaigns!


A Truly Digital University?

U.S. News and World Report published its Top 20 universities and liberal arts schools today. As expected, our Columbia ranked in the top 5 (#4 to be exact..), but where does it stack up in the digital space, specifically social media?

Lucky for us, Mashable took the liberty of surveying the top universities and providing some high-level stats on the competition. Here's a sneak peak at what they found:

  • Facebook: It's no surprise, Harvard has a massive Facebook following (~699K) followed by Stanford (226K). But after these two giants, the numbers trail off. Duke comes in third with 88K. Columbia comes in towards the lower half with about 25K Facebook "likes".
  • Twitter: Harvard and Stanford are the top two as far as Twitter followers for the main university page.. but would you believe that Columbia doesn't have a main university handle? There are a number of smaller Twitter accounts for the university (@CU_Spectator, @GoColumbiaLions) but no central university account. Odd, no?
  • YouTube Videos: Where Columbia does fare well is YouTube videos (619 as of today), putting it fourth after MIT, Stanford and Yale respectively.. But there are only about 4,200 subscribers. What's the point of generating so much content if nobody wants to watch it? Feels like there's an opportunity here.

For a full view of the article, as well as the liberal arts stats, check out this link.


Niche News?

An interesting article ran in the New York Times this week entitled "News Trends Tilt Toward Niche Sites." The premise follows that Internet giants like AOL and Yahoo have discovered beat-specific news targeted to specific segments is more successful online than general-interest news items. Well, duh?

At first glance, one may assume this is another example of Chris Anderson's Long Tail theory. Smaller audiences for sites like College Humor and Gawker have proven more influential than mass audiences for, say, AOL's homepage.

What the article fails to address is that perhaps people simply don't consider AOL and Yahoo trusted "news sources." or, ironically, the have rightlyfully earned their real estate.

It also disregards the fact that mass media, itself, is not without niches. Rarely does traditional media succeed when attempting to be all things to all people. Charlie Rose is a far cry from the View. The target audiences and tastes maybe more subtle, but are, no doubt, present.

New media's belief that they are constantly reinventing the wheel is self-serving and a bit tiresome. It's surprising that the New York Times, of all places, as bought into the hype.

There were literally hundreds of newspapers across the country at the turn of the century (19th not 20th!), each with their own spin and demographic. Maybe the debate is more about distribution and less about content.

A good story is a good story. Plain and simple.

"News Trends Tilt Toward Niche Sites: