Archive for December 19, 2011

The Food Network Cooks Up Social Engagement

We’re living in the middle of the “look at me” age. Everyone’s a celebrity. Or was. Or will be. Or will be again. How about you? Had your fifteen minutes yet?

This collective desire to see and be seen is refracted and magnified by social media, which turns the banality of ordinary life into a kind of performance art. We don’t just bake Christmas cookies – we announce our intentions, document our attempts and display our results to the world. Or at least we’d like to. (It helps if the world is actually watching.)

Not to worry. The Food Network can help with that. Their new Facebook app “Holiday Central” is a festive seasonal offering that invites users to post a photo of their best holiday dish on the Food Network’s Facebook wall – all in hopes of getting selected to be featured in the app’s recipe gallery. Yes, you too can be a food expert and bequeath your holiday-themed culinary insights to the world! Just like Paula Dean! But go easy on the mascara, okay?

Giving people a chance to show off online is one of the keys to social media engagement.

On the other hand, maybe this app isn’t about exploiting the desire for social media celebrity at all. Maybe it’s simply that food is one of those things we’ve always just wanted to share. After all, food was social way before media was. And there’s something about it – the communal-ness of it, that makes us want to talk about it, celebrate it, and, yes, pass it along.

Combine that impulse with the attention getting power of social media and this is one online holiday promotion that might just be, um… the perfect recipe.

Food Network Track Social Profile
Food Network Facebook Page
Food Network Website

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The world’s best Facebook Page written by 80-Year-Olds

First things first. We love the Boy Scouts of America. The hikes, the badges, the jamborees – we’re big fans. Which is why we were so disheartened to find their online engagement strategy so, how shall we say… ill-prepared.

The Boy Scouts have a little over 167,000 friends on Facebook. That’s a fantastic number if you’re a carpet cleaning service in Des Moines, but if you’re a 100-year old cultural institution with 62,226,396 in membership whose primary demographic is young men (young men who’ve been growing up online, we might add) then, yes, someone has failed to earn his, um, engagement badge.

But wait, you say, maybe the Boy Scouts have better things to do than post on Facebook. After all, don’t the Boy Scouts embody a kind of robust counter-cultural tradition that has little to do with acquiring virtual friends and everything to do with making actual friends in the real world?

Yeah, okay.  Maybe.

But then we took a closer look at some of the posts on the Boy Scouts’ Facebook wall. To wit:

Time for some Tuesday Trivia! Name the illustrator who, in 1923, was commissioned to illustrate the 12 tenets of the Boy Scout Law for use on calendars published by the Brown & Bigelow company.

Really?

In truth, there’s a part of us that finds this kind of tone-deaf anti-hipness a little charming, even refreshing. Except that if you’re going to be on Facebook why not engage with your demo in a way that enables a conversation they might actually want to have? Because if you’re the kind of organization working to promote camaraderie and civic virtues among the next generation of young men, it behooves you to engage with the next generation. On the internet. Because that’s where they are, and, unless one day we all really do have to learn how to survive in the forest, it’s where they’ll continue to be.

So long live the Boy Scouts of America. Just don’t let grandpa write the Facebook copy anymore.

 

Boy Scouts of America Track Social Profile
Boy Scouts of America Facebook Page
Boy Scouts of America Website

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Avoiding the Pepper Spray (and Other Reasons Consumers Like Giving Stuff Online)

In this age of cut-throat sales and shoppers armed with personal assault devices, getting and receiving gifts online might just be the safest way to get through the holidays without a trip to urgent care.

If the mayhem on Black Friday tells us anything, it’s that good deals never fail to attract attention, and while there’s certainly nothing new about brands offering special promotions to increase sales, social media, by its very definition, offers brands the chance to exploit a different dynamic: the opportunity to join a circle of friends, to actually participate in a social network.

We’ve noted before that other brands have been gaining traction online by becoming the facilitators of interaction between consumers. The bold move was asking consumers for the chance to interact with other consumers on their behalf – asking them to turn over the Rolodex, and start a dialog with a consumer’s own contacts.

But what we’ve consistently seen is that if the deals are good enough, consumers have been willing to participate. Restaurant.com, for example, recently launched its Feed It Forward program for the fourth year in a row. According to Restaurant.com’s Facebook app:

Feed It Forward enables individuals to give FREE $10 Restaurant.com eGift Cards to friends, family or anonymously send random acts of kindness to the Restaurant.com community. Over the past three holiday seasons, Feed It Forward participants nationwide have gifted more than $32 million in dining experiences.

LIKING Restaurant.com opens the app which then asks you to allow Restaurant.com to post their free $10 eGift card to your friends’ walls. If you agree, you choose who gets the gifts. The receiver gets a $10 gift card and the sender gets the satisfaction of sending a free gift. And Restaurant.com, of course, gets to its product delivered to a wider audience thanks to an ever-expanding network.

Giving is the new receiving.  Unless we’re talking about pepper spray.

Restaurant.com’s Track Social Profile
Restaurant.com’s Facebook Page
Restaurant.com’s Website

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The Coupon Just Got Smarter. And a Whole Lot More Social.

The days of redeeming a simple face-value coupon may not be over. But they’re numbered.  Here’s why:

Hertz just released its Share It Up! Facebook app and they’re pitching it like this: “This coupon grows in value for you and your friends the more you share it up.”

Here’s how it works: Once you activate the Share It Up! feature, Hertz gives you a digital coupon for $20 off a car rental and starts a countdown clock indicating how long until the coupon expires – in this case about 11 days. You can either redeem the coupon by booking online, or you can do what Hertz hopes you’ll do and “Share It Up!” (And since they insist on using an exclamation point, you know it’s about to get interesting….)

This coupon, you see, is theoretically worth up to $50 off a car rental. A substantial savings. But in order to activate its $50 potential, three more increments have to be “unlocked” – a $30 level, a $40 level, and, don’t get ahead of me, the $50 coupon. Each $10 level must be activated by passing on the coupon to your social circle. Share the coupon with someone else and if that person also shares it, the coupon’s value goes up.

“1 more person must share this offer via the Share It Up! button to unlock the $30 coupon”

By giving consumers a choice – to take the lower amount and opt out or keep passing it on for greater savings – participants feel empowered while also being drawn into a kind of game that requires minimal effort and offers increasing rewards. The app also features a well-designed and intuitive progress meter that tracks how much of the coupon you’ve unlocked and how much further you have to go.

We’re predicting these kinds of dynamic coupons, in which the full potential value of a special offer can only be accessed through greater social interaction, will be a widely replicated hit.

It’s time your coupons found some friends.

Hertz Track Social Profile
Hertz Facebook Page
Hertz Website

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