Category Archives: viral marketing

Engage Your Audience With Infographics

In the past few years, infographics have been taking the internet by storm, turning seemingly innocuous blog posts into viral sensations. Beautiful, funny, and charming works of art, they turn boring statistics and information – like “50% of all smartphone owners drink coffee between 7 and 10 a.m.” – into something that’s not only informative, but also easy on the eyes. 

Great news: You don’t need to be a statistical genius or a brilliant artist to dazzle your audience. 

Here are a few simple steps towards making them great.  

1. Find a Viral Topic

Whether you’re trying to detail something as expansive as the history of the internet, or something as simple as the latest Kindle, relevance is important. If you’re creating a comparison chart between the Kindle and Nook, but you completely leave out the fact that the iPad Mini was just released, you’ll be missing out on a huge opportunity to create something that people might want to share with everyone they know – and that’s the point, right?

So think about relevant current events, topics, products, crises, scandals – anything. If people are talking about it, creating an infographic that’s reflective of those events is a simple way will make people far more likely to share that infographic.

2. Keep it Simple

Perhaps the best element about infographics is that, like Twitter, they force us to be concise.

Chances are that if you’re reading a lengthy report or a case study, there’s a lot of unnecessary information.

So focus on the things that matter – the differentiators, the key takeaways, the glaring discrepancies, whatever they may be.

With that in mind, just because you’re focusing on the essentials doesn’t necessarily mean that the infographic has to be short. It can be small, like this one from Hubspot or huge, like this one from Pop Chart Lab.

Just don’t fill it up with tone of useless information. This Kindle vs. Nook chart below is a great example, as it focuses on one thing  the price of books in their respective e-book stores  and keeps it as straightforward as possible.

3. Just Build It

Creating an infographic is extremely difficult and expensive, right?

No, not really. In fact, there are a few free – that’s right, 
free – resources that enable anyone with a few minutes of time, some interesting statistics, and a handful of unique ideas to create things that are as pretty as they are shareable.

One simple (and free) resource for doing so is called Easelly, which lets users create infographics like this and this with minimal effort.

Beyond that, sites like Infogr.am allow users to easily import statistics into a wide (and constantly expanding) range of infographics. Want more? Infogr.am allows you to make those infographics interactive. It’s magic!

Those not your dig? Here are a few alternatives. Still not doing it? Hire an agency.

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Does Mobile Gaming Increase Sales?

The recent Business Development Institute conference that Jason attended featured a number of presentations about mobile gaming. With mobile gaming sales reaching $5.6 billion in 2010, everyone agrees that mobile games are fun, popular, and profitable. However, I think there’s still one question that remains unanswered: Do mobile games actually increase sales?


In 2010, Volkswagen unveiled a driving game called Real Racing GTI to promote their new car. It was “the first time someone launched a car on mobile,” according to Daniel Rosen, the head of AKQA Mobile. The game was downloaded over 6 million times and was the #1 free app in 36 countries. But did it move the needle? AKQA reports that Real Racing GTI led to “over 80% increase in sales leads, test drives and quote requests.” They, and Volkswagen, attributed more than 200 car sales to the campaign.


So there’s one example of mobile gaming increasing sales; here’s another. Jason wrote about RadioShack’s Holiday Hero campaign, in which players could unlock a 20% discount by checking in on Foursquare at locations connected to superheroes, such as a gym. The campaign was backed by funny commercials and videos of holiday shoppers in capes and tights. When the promotion was over, RadioShack found that Foursquare users spent 350% more than the average RadioShack customer during the Christmas season.


Mobile gaming can work for cars and consumer electronics. How about shoes? Fresh Networks ran a Foursquare campaign in London for Jimmy Choo, called the Trainer Hunt. Foursquare allowed a pair of Jimmy Choo trainer shoes to check in at trendy spots around the city. Any Foursquare user who checked in at the same location before the trainers left received a pair of shoes in any style or size. The mobile game became a real-time treasure hunt. The result? During the campaign, daily trainer sales increased 33%.

Speaking of treasure hunts, mobile game maker SCVNGR has achieved success with its Diamond Dashes, citywide quests for a diamond engagement ring. SCVNGR has brought this technology to communities in North Carolina, Montana, and Philadelphia, among others. The marketing company claims that its fun, romantic searches brought “positive TV, print, radio, internet and word of mouth attention” to its retail partners. But what about sales? SCVNGR’s case study provides impressive numbers in Facebook Likes and website traffic, but is silent on financial matters. Still, I bet that all that news coverage of laughing couples chasing clues and solving puzzles was probably worth thousands of dollars in advertising.

After all this research, I’m prepared to say that mobile gaming can, in fact, increase sales. From sports cars to RC cards, and from footwear to diamonds, a number of different brands (and ad agencies) have found measurable success with mobile games. My agency is excited about this technology and working on several mobile projects for different clients. If you want to learn more, or share your own mobile gaming story, then post a comment, tweet us @BRANDEMiX, or write on our Facebook wall.

Getting Socially Mobile at BDI

As Director of Interactive Branding at BRANDEMiX, I attended the Mobile Social Communications 2011 conference, presented by the Business Development Institute. This fascinating event featured both case studies and roundtable discussions about how brands are achieving their business goals by using mobile social strategies and new mobile platforms in their marketing campaigns.

For those who couldn’t make it, I’ll recap the highlights. There were some very cool insights, important lessons, and fun facts that I’d like to pass along.


Corcoran and Foursquare: Check Out A Neighborhood Before You Move In

Matthew Shadbolt from the Corcoran Group started things off.  His real estate company’s goal: going “beyond the four walls” in providing apartment information. Since the most important part of real estate is location, Corcoran partnered with Foursquare to provide New York City neighborhood tips, submitted by residents, to help homebuyers determine if a particular area was right for them. This would let homebuyers “shop like a local, find hidden dining gems for restaurants, [and] seek out local deals and coupons.” Shadbolt made clear that this information was aimed not at tourists but at residents and newcomers. Many real estate sites show you what it’s like to live in a particular house; Corcoran now shows you what it’s like when you step outside.

The lesson: Foursquare wasn’t designed with real estate in mind, but Corcoran saw the potential in combining local reviews and apartment shopping. I’m sure that a number of real estate companies, especially in New York, will follow Corcoran’s lead.

Fun fact: According to the National Association of Realtors, 90% of people start their home search online, “months before speaking to an agent.”


American Express OPEN: Promoting Small Business Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Laura Fink from American Express OPEN showed us how the company is reaching out to small businesses. AmEx created Small Business Saturday, a movement to make the Saturday after Thanksgiving a day of patronizing local, brick-and-mortar businesses. Fink pointed out that Black Friday is for the big box retailers, and Cyber Monday is for online stores, but no one is championing the mom-and-pop shops, which are especially vulnerable in this economy. SBS was promoted through a website and Facebook Page. The first Small Business Saturday, last year, brought a significant increase in sales to small businesses, and American Express is hoping to keep the momentum this year. It’s a great idea—and how many corporations have created a national holiday?

The lesson: Since any American Express cardmember who spends at least $25 on Small Business Saturday also earns a $25 statement credit, the card company is backing up its message with actual savings. American Express, consumers, and small business owners all win.

Fun fact: 41 elected officials, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, declared November 27, 2010, Small Business Saturday.


Foursquare and RadioShack: Rewarding Users For Checking In Somewhere Else

Not surprisingly, Foursquare came up frequently at this conference on mobile social media. Here, Eric Freidman talked about RadioShack’s Holiday Hero campaign during Christmas 2010. A month before the big day, users could earn the badge by checking in at two “Holiday Hotspots”: gyms (where superheroes stay fit), coffee shops (where they recharge), and transit locations (“where they can zoom to unknown destinations”). Anyone who unlocked the Holiday Hero badge received 20% off their RadioShack purchase. This marked the first time a retailer had issued a badge that led to a store discount. RadioShack has embraced Foursquare for some time: mayors of individual RadioShack stores receive a 20% discount, while just checking in gets users a discount of 10%.

The lesson: I think this is a perfect example of “gamification,” using game-design techniques to engage consumers. Lots of businesses offer discounts for users who check in, but RadioShack rewarded users for checking in to places other than RadioShack. This shows just how compelling game mechanics can be.

Fun fact: During the Holiday Hero promotion, Foursquare users spent 350% more at RadioShack than the average customer, making the campaign was a heroic success.

I’ll have to save the other informative speakers for another post. Thanks to the Business Development Institute’s Special Events Coordinator Jennifer Brous, Director of Events Maria Feola-Magro, and CEO Steve Etzler for a great event.

Social Media PR Disasters: Chevy Tahoe

In today’s digital world, customers now have access to the same mass communication tools once enjoyed by newspapers and TV networks, allowing regular people to broadcast their messages to the world. And sometimes those messages aren’t very positive.

How do brands respond? My ongoing series of Social Media PR Disasters finds the lessons not only in brands’ failures but also their successes. Today I’ll show you how a brand deftly navigated a disaster and came out looking both smart authentic.

The Brand
Chevrolet

The Incident
In 2006, Chevy promoted its 2007 Tahoe by posting video clips of the SUV, along with graphics and music, and invited fans to create their own commercials. The car company assumed the interactive element would draw a lot of participation, and that anyone who made a video would promote it to their friends.

The Problem
The editing application allowed users to create text that accompanied the images. Critics of SUVs’ notoriously low gas mileage and poor environmental impact began crafting commercials with captions like “We deforested the hills and strip-mined our mountains,” and linking Chevrolet to the Iraq War. The fact that these attacks accompanied official Chevy imagery made the commentary brutally effective.

The Response
As the negative videos became more popular than the positive ones, Chevy’s marketing team had to decide whether to pull them off the site. To its credit, the company chose not to take any action. A spokesperson told the New York Times“We anticipated that there would be critical submissions. You do turn over your brand to the public, and we knew that we were going to get some bad with the good. But it’s part of playing in this space.”

The Result
The carmaker claimed that 20,000 positive videos were made, compared to 400 negative ones. By allowing the latter to stay online, Chevy silenced critics who would have certainly called foul if the company had resorted to censorship.

 

The Takeaway
How can you avoid a social media PR disaster the way Chevy did?

– Acknowledge the conversation. You’re starting a dialogue, so be prepared to give up control. Two months after the campaign, Chvrolet General Manager Ed Peper posted on GM’s Fastlane blog: “Early on we made the decision that if we were to hold this contest, in which we invite anyone to create an ad, in an open forum, that we would be summarily destroyed in the blogosphere if we censored the ads based on their viewpoint. So, we adopted a position of openness and transparency, and decided that we would welcome the debate.”

– Think before you act. The urge to pull down the negative videos must have been very strong throughout Chevrolet’s marketing department. Doing so would have solved one problem but undoubtedly started another – and a larger one, as the story would have shifted away from the videos and focused on Chevy’s censorship. Luckily, Chevy brand mangers didn’t give in to the panic and realized the best course of action was to let the videos remain online.

– Be patient. Believe it or not, the bad press had no effect on sales of the Tahoe. In fact, in March of 2006, AutoBlog reported that “While nearly every other manufacturer suffered a decline in full-size SUV sales during the month of February, Chevy sold 15,431 Tahoes, a 42-percent improvement over [2005].”

Read my recent article on how United Airlines didn’t fare as well in avoiding a similar disaster.

Social Media PR Disasters: “United Breaks Guitars”

Social media has given brands unprecedented access to its customers, but we may forget that the customers also have access to those same communication tools and are able to broadcast their messages to the world.

Sometimes those messages are critical of a company. How do brands respond? Over the next few months, I’ll look at the way brands have missed, or exploited, opportunities for good publicity. This week, what happens when a little-known musician takes on a major airline?

The Brand
United Airlines

The Incident
In 2008, on a United Airlines flight at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, the Sons of Maxwell, a rock group led by David Carroll, witnessed baggage handlers throwing their guitars on the tarmac. When Carroll arrived at his destination, he found that his $3,5000 Taylor guitar had been broken. Carroll pursued compensation from United for nine months, but the company never took responsibility and ultimately denied his claim.

The Problem
Carroll wrote a song about the incident and posted the music video on YouTube. After three days, it had received over 500,000 views. (It currently has over 10 million). The song became a hit on iTunes as well. Carroll promised that two more songs about United’s poor customer service were on the way.

The Response
After just 18 hours, United began offering apologies through Twitter. However, the airline’s Facebook Page made no mention of the incident, and the Page’s press release tab, an obvious platform for communicating the company’s official response, provided no additional information. The United Airlines YouTube channel quickly filled up with negative comments, which the airline neither replied to nor removed. Eventually, the airline made amends by donating $3,000 to the Thelonious Monk Jazz Institute (at Carroll’s request), but that action didn’t indicate an improvement in baggage handling or a change of policies.

The Result
Carroll’s second song, a faux love ballad for a United customer service rep, was less successful but still a modest hit. His third song, in which Carroll describes being contact by other passengers who had had poor experiences with United, was more conciliatory. Carroll eventually began giving speeches on customer service to corporations around the country. He even flew United again – though on a flight to Denver to give a presentation, the airline lost his luggage. And Social Media Today, following an analysis of the story, concluded that “United Airlines did follow the first rule of crisis communications by apologizing and trying to make amends.  It’s their failure to leverage and integrate their online channels that is at issue.”

The Takeaway
So what are the lessons from “United Breaks Guitars”?

Drive people to your own turf. United had the platforms to control the flow of information, but neglected its own Facebook Page and YouTube channel, letting critics take over.

Respond immediately. How many views must a critical video get before a company responds? Carroll’s song became popular so quickly that many companies would have struggled to keep up. But United had at least some of response before two days had passed.

If necessary, make the change: Look at how Delta changed its baggage policy for military personnel after an Army reservist posted a video about having to pay a fee to check a fourth bag on a flight home from Afghanistan. Other airlines quickly eliminated their own fee. The entire story took only a few days to be resolved.

As “United Breaks Guitars” shows, while great customer service rarely stays with us, bad customer service drives people to vent their frustrations online. Some of the most vicious – and popular – content on the internet involves consumers taking their revenge against brands that have wronged them. But brands can swing public opinion back in their favor by acting with speed, grace, and humility.

Your Brand- Will It Blend?

This morning’s email brought me the Top 5 viral video advertisements of 2007– The advertisements that were most successful in attracting online viewers, as ranked by GoViral, the online marketing agency. It’s a subject I am fascinated by since everyone wants to go viral and its harder than you think to achieve viral status, particularly for commercial purposes.

I should know, I think that BRANDEMiX viral videos (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=brandemix&search=Search) are hilarious but viral, they are not. Not even mildly contagious.

They are-
The Cadbury Gorilla Drummer

Launch online: August 2007
Views on Youtube: 5m + lots of other user generated versions

Smirnoff Green Tea Partay

Launch online: August 2007
Views on Youtube: 3.4m

Ray-Ban – Catch Sunglasses

Launch online: May 2007
Views on Youtube: 3.2m + user generated content

Lynx/Axe – Bom chicka wah wah

Launch online: August 2007
Views on Youtube: 3.4m

So, when I went to see the Best of for ‘07, I was was even more puzzled by most. Great songs, pretty girls, humor (particularly Ray-Ban) but still. And the trend of real Global Agencies making what looks like User Generated Home Movies?

There is one on the list that I do think is genius- for building a brand, a cult, and sales.

It’s a campaign called “Will it Blend”
According to a series of 30 second to two minute infomercials demonstrating the Blendtec line of blenders, especially the Total Blender. In the show, Tom Dickson, the Blendtec founder, attempts to blend various items in order to show off the power of his blender. Dickinson started this marketing campaign after doing a blending attempt with a box of matches.

Nothing could be less sexy than a blender, so the fact that this campaign- by the founder, has dramatically increased sales and built such a strong following is really impressive.

Impact

The phrase Will it blend? has become an internet meme on sites such as Digg. Dickson has revealed that the campaign has been a great success for Blendtec. “The campaign took off almost instantly. We have definitely felt an impact in sales. Will it Blend has had an amazing impact to our commercial and our retail products.” Dickson has made many national television appearances, including NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 30, 2007, on which he blended a rake handle in mere seconds.

Here’s the latest- Blending an Apple Iphone


Check the rest out:








Branding for Business Results- That’s what I’m talking about!