Interactive Marketing

Great YouTube Ad from Samsung

Here’s a great ad for the Samsung Galaxy S II. It’s great because it gets a lot of things done, quickly.

First, they manage to be offensive. That’s a good thing, because invariably you’ll get people who are easily offended to talk about it, and probably share it around. The end result of hysterical people is usually increased awareness – I’m sure Eminem sold a LOT more albums after all those Christians tried boycotting him in the early 00s.

Think the agency that created this isn’t aware of that? They have a paid placement for this video on YouTube, showing the frame with Jesus on a unicycle. It’s brilliant idiot baiting. Because this isn’t an American product yet – they are pushing it in the American market to let us know it’s coming. What better way to get some easy word-of-mouth than to get bunched up Americans bemoaning their ad?

More importantly, the offensiveness has a place in the ad. It isn’t just shocking for the sake of shocking, but works to show the clarity of their screen (even if it does look a little simulated) and at times creates a metaphor for what they want to say, like the Russian dancer “kicking ass.” We’ve had shock for the sake of shock so long, it’s no longer shocking. People actually demand a good reason for the shock given, or else they write it off as what it usually is – cynical pandering.

That isn’t what was done here, and I appreciate it. This moves fast, has a concept, and doesn’t trip over itself trying to be funny at the expense of their core message: “Our mobile product does a lot of stuff well, and looks neat.”

Why I trust designers

My first marketing job was with a website in the pre-dot-bomb era. Back then there was little in the way of reliable analytics, SEO was  as easy as stuffing keywords, and everyone was advertising with banners. Lots and lots of banners.

My boss at the time, whose previous experience was solely in print, fancied himself a designer. As such, it was my misfortune to have to be his go-between with the design department. Whenever they would create a graphic, page or banner ad, he would have me deliver notes about cropping it in some slight way, or making some adjustment to the font. While he would never admit it, he did this so he could put his “stamp” on the work being done.

The worst was the day he actually sent me to them to say, “this banner needs to be more blue.” I remember blinking a couple of times at that, not sure even he would say something so dumb.

“More blue?”

“Yes.”

“There’s something wrong with the particular shade of blue?”

“It needs to be more bluer.”

Yes – he actually said, “more bluer.” It makes me think of this scene from, “Amadeus”:

An idiot trying to give criticism for the sake of giving criticism.

The Lead Designer went crazy when I passed this along, and rightfully so. I calmed him, telling him that yes, my boss was an idiot, and no, I don’t know what the hell that means either. I think this is why I had the job of talking to the Design Team – they respected me, even if it was impossible to respect him.

The point of this story is that marketers cannot second guess designers. When a design is run on a page, marketers can look at the resulting traffic, bounce rates, conversions, etc. to back up an argument that some design choice doesn’t work, especially if it has been run against some other choice in an A/B test. Making such calls based on our intuition and taste, however, is silly.

The designers working for you know what they’re doing. It’s likely they’ve done this for some time. They know what works and what doesn’t, because they’ve seen it work and not work before. Their gut call is worth more than a marketer’s gut call, because they have actually done this work in the past.

The reason people who aren’t designers tell designers how to do their job is they think it’s an aesthetic choice. They may like a font or color for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with sound design. In my experience, when testing what the designer came up with against what the non-designer wanted, the designer’s version always performed better. When you’ve done something long enough, you just know what works.

So if you have trusted designers to do a job, let them do that job. If you know better than them, you should be doing the work yourself. If you can’t, you need to unclench and trust their ability.

And if you really want something, “more bluer,” come prepared with the hexidecimal code for the shade of blue you want.

There’s no right way to do Social Media

Answer this question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

  1. A cab, if you can get one
  2. http://www.carnegiehall.org/
  3. Practice

All of these are right. (Though that last one was more right back in the age of vaudeville.) It’s just a matter of what you mean, and where you’re coming from.

I read a lot of social media “experts” who tell of the “right” way to do social media, and it always cracks me up. They may have a way that works, or know of a company that killed with a particular approach… and then take the next step saying it is THE way to do social media marketing. 

When you hear that, you should be suspicious.


I can understand why they say this. There’s a huge market for people who can provide simple answers. Millions are still trying to figure out how to “make social media work for them,” so if somebody with a blog and a consulting business can step up and give it to them, they’ll get a lot of attention.

As someone who blogs about social media, of course, this could include me. I try not to give that level of sweeping advice myself, and instead focus on the things that people do wrong. Hell, I’ve buttered my bread with other people’s bad ideas for the sake of blog posts for years.

There are also plenty of people with good tips for success, and examples of campaigns that worked. When you see these, though, you have to take them in the context of the company and product that did them.

Old Spice’s success on Twitter and Facebook is a perfect – and common – example: Their success was based on an original and brilliant television commercial. If you mimicked everything Old Spice did on line but didn’t have that winning commercial, I don’t think you’d have the same success.

The only real advice anyone can give about social media is to do it a lot, experiment, and be fluid. (“Wha? Fluid? What the hell are you talking about?” Relax, I’ll get to it.)

If you’re consistently posting on that Facebook Fan Page or Twitter account, and you’re doing what you need to do to build a following, eventually you’ll get it. If you want that to happen faster, it’s going to cost you real money, likely in the form of an ad agency doing it for you.

As for being fluid, be sure you’re aware of what people are talking about, where they’re saying it, how they’re saying it… and keep up with them. The companies that scored big on Facebook are the same ones who learned how to use Myspace before it. The ones who succeeded in Twitter are the ones who learned the value of a hashtag and trending topics. Constant education is necessary in social media marketing – but the ideas for your campaign and your messaging will have to be your own.

Hey, you never know – over time you will get very comfortable with “thinking outside the box,” (which is the most insidiously inside the box expression of all time, but whatever,) doing your own messaging, and wielding these social media tools yourself. Then, you could be inspired to invent an approach no one else ever thought of, and force us to write blog articles about how brilliant you are.

Because there still aren’t any degrees for this stuff, and the majority of social media professionals are just guessing.

Got my GetGlue Stickers

Some of my GetGlue stickers

If you’re into checking into meaningless places or posting meaningless posts, GenGlue is probably for you. The short of it is you check in when you’re watching a show or movie or listening to music or reading a book… I suppose to let people know what you’re into. There isn’t much to it.

But, they do something great: They give you stickers for your check-ins. And I don’t mean digital stickers – electronic baubles that give you limited bragging rights but are otherwise nothing. I mean, they are that, but when you get enough of the electronic kind of stickers, they will actually send you copies of those stickers – as actual stickers!

I just got my pile from them, and they’re very high quality. I was expecting paper with glue on one side, printed with a four color ink jet. No, these definitely cost some money. And yet I wasn’t charged for them. I wasn’t even charged shipping!

It’s a great, fun incentive for using their site, and I applaud them for it. Granted, I got all of mine by gaming the system and taking advantage of the lack of verification check-ins require. (As if I’d actually pay money to go to a theater and watch, “The Lincoln Lawyer” – yeah, right!)

But it is a great idea, and there’s a lesson here: Giveaways keep people coming back to your site. Even if they’re brigands like me.

Bad Creative in an actual Facebook ad

Look at this:

If it “gives men flat abs,” why is there a picture of a hot chick in the ad? Am I to believe this isn’t really a hot chick, but a man? If it’s a man, there’s no way I’m going to do this little known ab exercise, because I don’t want to look like a chick when I’m done! That must be what’s so damn “strange” about the video they want me to watch!

What’s more likely is someone created an ad for something targeting men, and cynically knew men pay more attention to ads with hot chicks in them than pictures of other guys who got results using the product.

Fair enough – this ad probably performs better than another one with the same copy, and a picture of some guy’s ripped stomach.

It doesn’t really matter either way – I don’t click on those Facebook ads any more than, say, anyone else on the planet does. So it will ultimately remain a mystery to us all.

StatCounter – A fabulously useful site

If you’ve ever wondered what the most popular operating system worldwide is, or mobile browser, or screen resolution, have I got a site for you: StatCounter.

StatCounter is about the most useful free web analytics site I’ve ever seen. You can choose from a host of different options to learn about:

Browsers
Browser Versions
Mobile Browsers
Operating Systems
Mobile Operating Systems
Search Engines
Mobile Search Engines
Mobile vs. Desktop
Social Media

If there are results you don’t care to look at, like Digg on your mobile browser popularity report, you can deselect it and just look at the things you want to know more about.

Because you don’t really care how many people are still web browsing with a Sony PSP, do you? Of course you don’t.

You can also create a jpeg of the report you looked at, so you can easily share it around, or use the embed code for your blog.

And did I mention it’s free?

Seriously, bookmark this site right now. It will teach you a lot about how your potential customers might be finding you.

What I love about.me

If you’re digitally hip, you’ve likely heard of this site before – about.me.

But if you’re normal, you haven’t. Normal people don’t care about things like this. They just care about e-mail and Facebook at best. Twitter is one of those dumb things you hate because you can’t get into it. QR codes seem designed to make you feel inadequate because you can’t even install Angry Birds onto your phone without throwing it across the room, much less a QR scanner.

The truth is, though, that’s why about.me is such a perfect site for the technically challenged: It is an online business card that introduces you to anyone who lands on it. It’s less of a “social networking” site than it is a social networking Hamburger Helper – it accentuates what you’re doing, but doesn’t add anything to the content.

Okay, bad metaphor. Moving on…

I'm an SEO, a blogger and a zombie killer.

About.me works because it’s easy to get, easy to use, easy to understand. AOL recently bought them, I think because they see the potential behind the online business card and want to grab it up before it becomes expensive.

If you’re a tech geek, it’s great because you can show the various profiles you have on other sites like WordPress, Twitter, Flickr, Linkedin, whatever.

For the luddites in the audience, (see how the word “luddite” is underlined and/or colored differently depending on your browser preferences? That’s because it’s a link – if you’re a luddite, you can click on it to find out what you are!) about.me is easy to use and easy to understand. You simply plug in the URLs of the sites you’re on and like into the profile when you sign up. When you need to add a page link to yourself somewhere, if you don’t have a blog or site of your own, you can leave your about.me page in it’s place.

This is my own about.me page. This took about 10 minutes to sign up, and as you can see it has links to a LOT of different profiles on the web. While it gives me a lot of options for modifying the look, the majority of the screen is whatever picture I want to upload to it. I like that too – it means I get to dominate the look of my page. Where Facebook dictates the entire look of the page, and WordPress practically requires a Master’s degree in tedious coding to make it pretty, all about.me needs is a picture.

Finally, it’s a lot less obnoxious sharing an about.me page than it is a lead gen form or a blog on social media profiles. Sure, you don’t get all the traffic from your profile link to your blog – that’s a strike against it. But if you’re more into sharing your real life with people, you look less like a desperate marketer and more like an actual, real life person.

Check it out – it’s very cool stuff.

Content is more important than technology

With all the social media, SMS, apps and video rolling around the Internet, why are there so few people making a lot of money from their campaigns?

I mean, all these tactics for getting a message in front of someone are incredibly advanced. With all of the traffic available online, and the means to reach them being so easy to create, why is it there are so few stories of small businesses becoming big deals?

Part of the reason is so many businesses are using these tools to spread their message. As a result, most people online have learned how to tune them out. Sure, a paid placement on Facebook could potentially reach millions of users a month. But since they’re all the way over on the right side of the page, and to most people never worth investigating, no one ever does. You’re more likely to get clicks from people accidentally clicking on your ad than people who want what you’re selling.

But that’s terribly pessimistic of me, when the real point I want to get to is this other reason your – and, frankly, most everyone else’s – ads are ineffective: Your message hasn’t kept up with the technology you’re using.

All too often I read copy that is lifeless, directionless, and assumes that if a user sees it, they’re already on their way to becoming a customer. The copy may as well read, “Well, get buying already – we don’t have all day!”

When you build your paid search campaign or you post to Twitter or whatever else you do, do you consider what the person reading it needs? We know what you need: To make money. It’s a given. If you’re advertising, you’re doing it to move some product. But what you want isn’t important – what’s important is how you can help your potential customer. What do they want? Or need? And will your product help them? If so, how? What do they need to do not to complete a sale for you, but to suddenly make their lives better or more complete?

Boiler plate copy explaining who you are,  and what you sell, isn’t important to a customer in need. What’s important to them is the solution you offer. That MUST be the focus of your copy, whether you’re doing print ads or paid search or a sign in a store window.

You can’t ever let yourself forget that the customers aren’t there to help you by buying something. You are there to help them, and if you can convince them that you’re up to the task, they’ll return the favor with a sale.

It’s official: iPhone 4 to be sold by Verizon

After months of speculation and years of wishing, a provider other than AT&T will be selling the Apple iPhone 4. The phones will be available February 10th, with pre-orders starting on the 4th.

iPhone on Verizon

I think everyone kind of saw this coming, frankly. As I’ve often said, I’m not an Apple person, but I do see the appeal and they do make quality electronics – so I’ve never, ever understood what they were doing lashing their oars to AT&T – arguably the worst cell phone provider in America.

When Verizon started offering data plans for the iPad late last year, the writing was on the wall that Apple had found a new partner.

This is actually what should happen with every handset: A device – or versions of the same device – that can be used on multiple carriers. Think about that, the idea of buying the actual phone you want, then deciding on the carrier you want. This is the way it works in Europe, and they’re very happy with it.

I chalk that up as another win for Socialism, myself. Because in free market America, the carriers essentially hijack handsets, forcing you to take their contract in order to get the technology you want. Never mind the iPhone – what if Sprint has the best Android phone in your opinion, but you want Verizon’s coverage. Why shouldn’t you be allowed to switch the two up?

Of course, this didn’t happen and isn’t likely to anytime soon. This industry knows what side it’s proprietary contracts are buttered on. What I’m interested in is seeing how long it takes for AT&T to finally get chased out of the cell phone service market.

My money is on AT&T selling their provider interests to some Korean company that gives it a shiney new name and brand image. This would be great, because Korean’s don’t mess around – they’ll also fire those morons that have been running AT&T, replacing them with some very serious people in management.

People who, for example, would have never screwed up Apple so badly they’d eventually leave.

12seconds.tv Shutting Down

12seconds.tv

12seconds.tv, the micro vlogging site, is closing it’s doors this month. All of it’s users received an e-mail today (included beneath this post) from founder Sol Lipman saying goodbye.

I have mixed feelings about this, frankly. Last year I posted about the reasons I felt 12seconds never took off like so many people thought it would initially. After that I used the site more, and found I rather liked it – even though my initial criticism was, I feel, correct: People who post video want more than 12 seconds worth, YouTube has a larger potential viewership, and most people aren’t brave enough to constantly shoot video of themselves.

http://embed.12seconds.tv/players/remotePlayer.swf
12erator: The Song That Best Captures How I Feel Today on 12seconds.tv

Above: An example of 12seconds’ embedding code not working. Among all of the other points I made in my initial review of the site, this one is still the most annoying to me. Ah well – what do you want for nothing, right?

Still, the concept for 12seconds did grow on me. After a few months I managed to shoot some bits at least I was happy with. It seems the real magic of 12seconds was that, since you’re only on the spot for a short amount of time, you can only make yourself look so stupid – so go for it because how bad can you possibly make yourself look in 12 seconds?

The problem is, with 20% of social media users actually producing content, far fewer of them are willing to regularly broadcast video of themselves. Not when a Tweet or a Facebook update takes less effort and doesn’t make them self-conscious. It’s a subtle issue that they could never have gotten around, as it was baked into the concept of 12seconds itself.

Actually, given the recent news of Twitter’s updated page, and how they were going to partner with 12seconds.tv among other sites, I thought they were doing better. I had even planned on using them for a project coming up in a Twitter/12seconds hybrid campaign. I guess I’ll be going back to Vimeo after all.

What’s strange to me is that no other site stepped up to buy them. It seems like the kind of concept Facebook would be all over, getting more users to post free content and hopefully make a run for all that YouTube traffic. Perhaps Twitter would have found it more useful, as the only major site that doesn’t have it’s own in-house video solution? Perhaps the site didn’t seek out any offers, and simply wanted to lay it to rest rather than sell it?

Hopefully there will be more details in the coming weeks. Suffice it to say, though, you’ve just lost one more use for that dusty webcam on top of your monitor.

Dear 12ers,

Nearly 3 years ago, David Beach and I decided to grab a beer at a local pub and talk about startup ideas.  I told him a dumb idea and he told me about one called 10seconds.  I said, “we should do that one.”  He said, “okay.”  And that was it.  That is until we figured out that 10seconds.tv was already taken.  12seconds sounded pretty good to us too.

We set out on a journey that would take on a wild ride of ups and downs.  We experienced birth, death and (Beach) even battled cancer.

Today we are announcing the end of 12seconds.

Why?  As you probably know, everything has a life cycle.  12seconds is in its twilight.  After all the new product launches and attempts at a revenue model, fundraising with VCs and late night coding sessions with Jacob hunched over his monitors – it’s time to call it.  It is time to end 12seconds.

However, if 12seconds had a bucket list it would have filled it up with amazing life experiences!  We launched an innovative micro-vlogging system, built crazy mobile apps, created revenue with legit sponsors, we were nominated for awards and had the best users on the Internet – our beloved 12ers.

12seconds is not a failure – it is a life well-lived.  It really is about the journey.  I know this because I’m at the destination.

You’re thinking, “holy crap I made like 1000 12second videos, what do I do?”  Later this week, we’re going to release a download tool for you to capture those moments in time.  It will be available until we pull the plug – on October 22nd.

If you have any questions or want to say goodbye, feel free to reply to this e-mail or click here (goodbye@12seconds.tv) to wish us all well.

There were a lot of team members and users who made 12seconds an incredible experience.  I can’t possibly list them all here but you know who you are.  Finally, to my co-founders Beach and Jacob – I love you guys.

Sol Lipman
Founder