Archive for November 30, 2011

Tis Better to Give Than to Receive – Corporate Charity on Facebook

A small bit of good public relations goes a long way. And good public relations often involves a healthy does of generosity. Walmart understood this recently when creating their “12 Days of Giving” campaign under the colorful, homey-designed Holiday Giving tab on their Facebook page. The super retailer claims that it will be shortly giving away $1.5M to community organizations, but first seeks assistance from FB friends’ in identifying such worthy groups. In a time when large companies can easily be associated with Ebenezer Scrooge- over low pay, disallowing unions, limited benefits or sending jobs overseas- Walmart smartly aligns itself with Santa Claus.
Facebook friends are encouraged to nominate their favorite local nonprofit through Walmart’s page and the company is particularly looking for organizations “that are providing basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing and baby supplies,” so that families won’t have to worry about such things, especially during the holidays. It doesn’t hurt that all of those items- except for shelter- are amongst Walmart’s specialty. A good part of the nonprofits’ purchases may occur at the ubiquitous retailer, thus a cycling of the money back into Walmart.

Over 1,700 have liked the Holiday Giving tab, but the positive effects will ripple far beyond Walmart’s Facebook page. This approach to giving back is canny for a few reasons. The total money distributed- $1.5M- will make a nice difference for many groups and their needy benefactors, but is just a tiny drop in the bucket for the multi-billion dollar behemoth. Word will spread organically throughout communities, and wherever free items are being distributed it will likely be as if Walmart is getting the benefits of an official sponsorship. Additionally, Walmart is actively involving its online fan base, getting them chatting in their own communities about the need and benefit of such nonprofit organizations and, by extension, Walmart’s largesse. In this “Black Friday” time of the year, other companies would be smart to replicate Walmart’s association with generosity, concern and the “true” meaning of the holidays.

Walmart Track Social Profile 

Walmart Facebook Page   

Walmart Website

 

 

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The Bad Gift That Keeps On Giving: Staples Seeks Social Buzz from a Holiday Give-Away

Want to drive traffic to your Facebook page? Give people a reason to show up. Like free stuff. Everyday.

After all, it’s the holidays. It’s gift giving time. And Staples is cutting to the chase: giving away a cool electronic gizmo everyday until Christmas.

The holidays are the perfect time to get consumers in the habit of checking in regularly by offering a promotion that refreshes daily. In this case, Staples is giving away a different electronic product each day (from the Kindle Fire to a Dell Inspiron laptop), requiring consumers to check in so they can register for that day’s drawing.

Besides having to LIKE Staples, in order to enter the drawing, consumers are asked to answer a holiday gift related question like “What’s one of the worst holiday gifts you’ve ever received?” in a Twitter-friendly 140 characters or less.

Which brings us to our watch and learn moment: Staples is not only allowing consumers to enter the drawing through Twitter, but actually encouraging Twitter entries by offering a daily bonus entry if you retweet someone else’s “worst gift” story (requiring entrants to include the hashtag #WorstGift and @Staples).

Adding the interactive question gives the contest that viral quality that allows people to feel like they’re not just spamming their contacts about a sweepstakes; they’re actually sharing content – a funny story – which is also a backdoor plug for the contest.

Give people a reason to come back everyday – and a legit excuse to pass along your promo/content/message – and you’ve got daily engagement with viral publicity. We’d say “that was easy” but somebody’s already taken that.

Staples Track Social Profile
Staples Facebook Page
Staples Website

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Dunkin’ Runs on The Sims – Care For a Virtual Coffee?

If America really does runs on Dunkin’, then why shouldn’t the digital world?

Having recently signed up its 5,000,000th Facebook fan, Dunkin Donuts has made a strategic choice to engage the burgeoning playground of social mobile gaming, signing on in August to become a main sponsor for The Sims Social, the hugely popular Facebook version of EA’s hit computer game, The Sims.

Marketers spied opportunities early on to infuse this digital world with real-life products, integrating users’ gaming experience with strategic brand placement. But the truly innovative feature was making the branded items not just peripheral background accessories but part of the actual game. Dunkin’ Donuts’ participation, for instance, allows users to gift Dunkin’ Donuts coffee to other Sims, allowing them to earn points in the game. Dunkin’ would have you believe:

What is good for your Sim, will be good for you.

These branded items are also available only for a limited time, thereby increasing their desirability and usefulness in the game. An earlier, now expired, feature allowed users to “buy” a Dunkin’ Donuts branded lounge chair which, when used by the Sim, would earn him points for relaxation.

As we’ve reported before, social gaming is a huge new frontier, not just for the increasing numbers of Facebook users who log-in daily to play, but for the brands that users encounter in the real world. Wisely integrating a brand into a social mobile game allows users to essentially enact the brand’s value proposition just by playing the game.

The benefit of the branded product or service is actually fused with and reinforced by the game itself allowing real consumers to vicariously experience the benefits of the product in the digital world.

 

 

Dunkin Donuts Track Social Profile
Dunkin Donuts Facebook
Dunkin Donuts Website

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Playing with Engagement: Ford and Jenny McCarthy Make A Rather Lame Attempt at a Social Mobile Game

What do Jenny McCarthy, Words With Friends and the Ford Escape have in common? It’s a good question. And one we’re still pondering.

Social mobile games are an increasingly popular way to reach consumers. Traditionally, brands have gained exposure through banner ads, display ads, video interstitials, in-game branded virtual items or branded sponsorships.

But Ford recently tried a new spin on social mobile game marketing by staging and then live streaming a Words With Friends competition on Ford’s Facebook page. Billed as a chance to “challenge Jenny McCarthy to the largest Words With Friends game,” it also served as Ford’s official launch of the redesigned 2013 Ford Escape. Makes perfect sense, right? Let me explain.

For those who haven’t already become addicted, Words With Friends is a kind of virtual Scrabble that can be played on Facebook, Apple devices and Android phones. Players compete against other friends in their social network by adding words to a virtual game board and scoring points. Ford linked up with social mobile game maker Zynga to stage a massive version of the popular game at Hollywood and Highland Center – an outdoor shopping mall and popular LA tourist zone. The idea was that, in front of a live crowd on Tuesday, November 15th, sometime TV celeb Jenny McCarthy would face off against EVERYONE watching and playing online.

Given that about a third of Americans own a smart phone or web-mobile device, social mobile games have the potential to be huge opportunities for marketers.

In this case, the whole thing looked close enough to a game show (contestants, live audience, a game board, a countdown clock) but lacked that one element that makes a televised game show compelling – namely any semblance of what the hell is going on. It was quickly apparent for those of us trying to play along from home, that any hope for online audience participation was basically nil. We were sending our suggestions into the ether.

Which might help explain why the online audience on Facebook rarely topped 1,000 for most of the hour-long event.

As the game went on, a picture of the new Escape was gradually revealed on the game board and at the end, the vehicle was unveiled on stage.

According to an official Ford comment on the Words With Friends Facebook chat, “This [was] first time ever that Ford has revealed a vehicle through a social game!”

May we submit a word? L-A-M-E.

Ford’s Track Social Profile
Ford’s Facebook Page
Ford’s Website

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Better to Give or Receive? Either way it’s good for eBay.

As we’ve noted, holidays and season changes are great opportunities to increase social media engagement and boost online traffic by offering tie-in promotions and exclusive deals. But eBay’s going beyond the usual LIKE-us-and-we’ll-give-you-a-bargain idea. They’ve come up with a gift-giving contest that gives eBay direct access to participants’ friend lists, sorts through them, and posts virtual “gifts” to friends’ Facebook walls. Interesting? Indeed.

eBay’s calling it The More the Merrier and we’re very keen to follow just how many more consumers engage with this new Facebook tab. It works like this: a user hands over her Facebook friend list to eBay so it can sort through and determine which are her top ten Facebook friends (based on the number and frequency of Facebook interactions). eBay then automatically assigns each of those top ten friends a “virtual gift” from eBay’s preselected Top Gifts of 2011, and those virtual gifts are then posted on the friends’ Facebook walls based on information gleaned from the friends’ likes and posts.

Users will then have the chance to manually change either the friends or the gifts that eBay assigns, but it’s designed so that users can let eBay sort all that out just by accessing their friends’ posts, likes, interests and photo tags.

eBay will then conduct a weekly drawing from now until December 11, and then a daily drawing from December 12 to December 16, in which selected winners will receive the ACTUAL gift they were given virtually on Facebook.

At every level of this contest, eBay has orchestrated a system that requires not only access to consumers personal connections, but also facilitates and requires interaction between those connections. Of course, your ten friends have to LIKE eBay in order to “accept” their virtual gift and become eligible to win the real thing. And as an added incentive, the sender can only win anything if her friends “open the gifts”.

Whether this gift from the social media marketers is more Santa-like or Grinch-like depends on your perspective, but it certainly is an interesting use of social media to embrace the ancient practice of communal gift giving.

Ebay’s Track Social Profile
Ebay’s Website
Ebay’s Facebook Page

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Buttering Up The Consumer Base – A Homey Facebook Presence for a Down To Earth Brand

A powerful brand that stands the test of time must be continuously cultivated, and in this Internet-friendly era that means keeping a reign on the company’s online image through its website and especially its social media presence. Land O’Lakes, associated with wholesome American goodness from the traditional native American woman on the product packaging, to the company’s location in the northern heartland city of St. Paul, MN., surrounded by said Lakes, does a solid job of this with over 20,000 fans on its Facebook page and many attractive points of engagement for its home ‘n’ hearth appreciating fans.

While their FB wall contains a homey mixture of company-offered recipes, questions about the consumers’ favorite recipes, random comments of praise for a product, and even the odd complaint- addressed, of course, by Land O’Lakes’ fan page ombudsman- things get even more Little House On The Prairie in some of the other page tabs.

The most blatant- and clever- buttering up of Land O’Lakes fan base is found in the My Eggstraordinary Dozen tab, an application by which fans pair 12 Facebook friends, respectively, with each of Land O’Lakes 12 unique characteristics, with the results being then quite prominently and artfully displayed. In one canny move, the company is complimenting its fans on their choice of friends, likely turning at least several of the surprised and flattered 12 friends into L’OL fans, and associating these very good qualities with their products, all in a very active, engaging manner. Certainly a recipe worth noting.

Land O’Lakes Track Social Profile
Land O’Lakes Website

Land O’Lakes Facebook

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The Gap between Holiday Music and Good Music – Joy to The Online World, It’s the Season of Free Like!

 

Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away but that hasn’t stopped Gap from throwing down the Holiday shopping gauntlet with its just released Facebook tab: Joy It Up Mixtape.

We’re just slightly confused by a few small things, such as

Is it Holiday Season yet?

and

What does this music have to do with the Holiday Season that apparently is upon us?

Gap’s mixtape is an inoffensive sampling of respectable indiepop but let’s be honest, it’s seasonal in name alone; almost none of the music has anything to do with the Christmas or New Years… so that leaves us horribly torn between our expectation of seasonal music and our preference for good music. Ultimately our conclusion is that seasonal music might be bearable a few days a year… but free music is good all year round. On the other hand:

What does The Gap have to do with music?

Well, maybe it’s the joyous feeling of music that they want to evoke and connect with their clothing. What we can say is that drawing an online crowd is increasingly competitive. So it’s no surprise that offering consumers something of value, like an exclusive deal, or in this case, exclusive entertainment, has become a popular way to build that coveted online audience. Also it is true that:

Seasonal changes, holidays and major cultural markers are perfect opportunities to expand your presence online.

Gap’s Track Social Profile
Gap’s Website
Gap’s Facebook Page

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Driving Engagement In Low Gear: Jaguar’s New Facebook Tab Is In The Slow Lane

Somewhat of an under-performer on the information super highway, Jaguar’s Facebook audience of 450,000+ is quite large for a spotted cat, but relatively small for a major car brand.

So the release of Jaguar’s hip new Facebook Tab: XF 2.2 Coast to Coast holds promise to boost them into the Social Media Fast Lane… however we were underwhelmed with the questionable execution and generally clunky on-road performance of the Tab.

The new Tab is meant to follow Jaguar’s XF 2.2 diesel-powered car as it chugs across the entire United States from the east coast to the west. All very promising – getting to follow the progress of this transcontinental journey as we get to watch them “put the Jaguar XF 2.2′s fuel efficiency to the test.” As a concept, this has lots of potential for engagement and interactivity. This’ll be great, we thought. Surely there will be video. And photos. And Tweets. Perhaps a crazy road-trip style misadventure with a moose… or something. All available through their Facebook page.

Unfortunately, except for some pictures, (and some tweets) which are being posted to the Jaguar Facebook wall, there’s very little content here. Besides a map of the country showing the basic route and the car’s current location, there’s really nothing to explore on the new tab, and even the link that promises to “keep me informed about the latest news” simply routes us to a very intimidating squeeze page.

In an apparent attempt to keep things interesting, they’re using a vehicle designed for British roads, with the driver seated on the right.

These kinds of live on-going event/promotions are great ways to merge the physical world with your online space, drawing in new traffic as buzz and anticipation build, and allowing social media to do what it does best: focus attention on (and build an audience for) a happening, event, spectacle or attraction.

If you’re going to Go Real – don’t forget to Go.

Unfortunately, we are still far from a world where we live entirely online. The internet is insatiably hungry for evidence of real, tangible, interesting experiential stuff – like driving cross-country in a bad ass car! So come on Jaguar… let’s get some gas in that Tab and get it moving.

Jaguar’s Track Social Profile
Jaguar’s Facebook Page
Jaguar’s Website

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