Monthly Archives: November 2009

Thanksgiving is here, are you ready?

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Thanksgiving, one of the most social of all holidays, is upon us; bringing families and friends together to celebrate our lives and to give thanks for what we have and are about to receive.

Since the late 20th century, Thanksgiving also meant the official start to the holiday shopping season. Are you ready?

As we’ve previously mentioned in our Shopping Goes Social piece, many retailers are leveraging their social media clout to connect with consumers by offering them something extra they can’t see on a particular retail site or in a weekly circular. Other sites are there to aggregate this information for you – like Black-Friday.net.

Black Friday Page

Want to get a head start on those Black Friday deals? This site simply lays out the ads and deals in advance of the biggest shopping day of the year. You can see preview circulars, online deals of the day and even create your own shopping list.

Know what you’re cooking on the big day? Want the best pumpkin pie or green bean casserole recipe or have one to offer? Several popular recipe sites offer not only great recipes and tips, they also offer real reviews from real people who have made that particular dish. Sites like allrecipes.com are offering a free Webscast to show how dishes are made – you can watch it on their .tv site or from your iPhone.

Watch live streaming video from allrecipeslive at livestream.com

And what would Thanksgiving (or one of my posts) be without the time-honored tradition of the NFL. Since the league’s inception in 1920 fans have been able to skip away from the Thanksgiving table to catch the games. Since the advent of the television, it makes getting up from the table a tad bit easier. As our mobile devices have become more sophisticated, we don’t even have to leave the table to get the scores. But don’t tell my family about that.

NFL Mobile

When all is said and done, it’s all about being with your loved ones, celebrating being together and giving a little bit of thanks. So to everyone out there, have a great Thanksgiving weekend, wherever and however you may be spending it.

Customer Service in the Twitterverse

Written by: Digitally Approved
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John Newton, marketing professor at Emerson College in Boston, believes that the definition of public relations is “getting caught in the act of doing something good.” I’ve heard him repeat this mantra in class many times, and it’s an interesting perspective on a critical marketing tactic.

Social media is the perfect venue to catch brands in the act of doing good deeds on the behalf of consumers or the environment, and many brands have embraced the immediacy of social networks to reach consumers quickly and efficiently.  I recently caught Bose in the act of doing something good on Twitter, and as a Bose customer I now have a new respect for their service tactics and involvement in social media.

Last week I was saddened to realize that my Bose ear bud headphones were broken: sound was only coming from one ear bud.  A little bit of cord wiggle action would help, but they were pretty much useless.  I went to Twitter to voice my sadness:

blogbose3

I decided I’d have to buy a cheap pair of headphones to hold me over until Christmas.  Quality headphones come in handy when living with three roommates and battling the monotony of running on treadmills, but my wallet isn’t exactly in the position to fork over $100 for new Bose headphones.

Lucky for me, @boseservice noticed my tweet within an hour and offered their services.  The resulting direct message conversation via Twitter lead me to filing a replacement order. Once I ship out my damaged pair, I will be receiving a brand new set of headphones for half the price, even though my warranty is long expired.

bose

My experience with Bose was pain free and surprisingly easy.  Instead of defecting from the Bose brand and buying a cheaper set of headphones, Bose offered me a deal to secure my loyalty to the brand and hopefully encourage me to tell people about my amazing customer service experience.

blogbose2

Many brands are on Twitter, Facebook and the like.  But the level of conversational interaction with consumers varies with each brand.  It’s not enough to just post company and product information to your followers or fan page members, there needs to be an initiative that seeks out consumer problems or recommendations and digs deeper to develop a one-on-one relationship with a particular customer.  And this needs to be enacted on a daily basis as part of the company’s social media strategy as a whole.

Social media is a great tactic for brands to reach their consumers, and a little attention to detail can strengthen a brand’s image and reputation among brand loyalists. Bose’s high-end products come with high-end prices, but at least you’re getting what you pay for…and then some.

Shopping Goes Social

Written by: Digitally Approved
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image

The holidays are just around the corner and no doubt you’ll be doing a lot of shopping. If the idea of going into a department store makes your skin crawl, then you are probably turning to the Internet to avoid those snarky sales clerks long lines and virtually non-existent parking spaces.

Have you noticed all the great features that retail sites now have to help you with your shopping experience?  Amazon started it a few years back when they introduced customer ratings.  This helped you decide which particular digital camera to buy based on comments from real people and not just professional critics.  Best Buy recently one upped Amazon by enabling you to ask your friends what they think of your potential TV purchase if you go to their Facebook page.

BB FB pageMeanwhile if you shop on Hot Topic’s website, you can tweet to your friends how you want to look like someone from Twilight this Christmas.  Go to a site like Kaboodle.com and you can entrench yourself in a whole social shopping experience where you can meet people just like you who are looking to make purchases and you can do comparison shopping and create wish lists. Trust us, holiday shopping has gotten a lot easier thanks to social shopping features that most retailers are utilizing this year.

Retailers got bit by the Social Media bug and bit hard. With this new found wild west of marketing opportunities in front of them, retailers big and small are gearing up for a very social season; which includes brand and product Facebook / Twitter sites, populating them with shipping offers and discount codes to developing online promotions and even scavenger hunts that engage as well as connect us to brands as consumers decide on their online expenditures.

The past few years alone has brought the modern-day shopper light years beyond the weekly circular and television ads. Even banner ads seem so yesterday when online communities such as I Like totally Love It and the aforementioned Kaboodle present and encourage a philosophy of how much more fun it is shopping with friends.

iltli

A spate of recent articles reflect the increasing popularity of the social shopping trend; a piece by Reuter’s, Nicole Maestri talks directly about companies keeping up with consumers thirst for social media, while AdWeek’s Brian Morrissey reported that the secret to brand social popularity is discounts.  All of this ties nicely into a recent statistic that comes from the Brand Experience Study stating that 97% of people’s digital experience had an influence on whether or not they purchased that particular product or brand. That’s pretty strong stuff.

Facebook and Twitter have become the social media outlets of choice for retailers that are trying to generate additional buzz around their product offerings this season according to a new Shop.org report. Brands that have jumped into social media with both feet from early on like Best Buy with its Twelpforce and Target with its Daily Deal are building a loyal community of followers and participants. Retailers that utilize social media to further brand themselves will only grow as they welcome more consumer interaction in the way products are sold, purchased and marketed.

Target Daily Deals

From free shipping and discount codes to a forum for discussing new products and accessing real-people reviews, consumers have a remarkably interactive connection to how to research and purchase, unimaginable just a few short years ago.

Shopping has not only gone social, it just got a little more exciting!

Thank You to our Veterans

Written by: Digitally Approved
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armed_services

Today is not just another Wednesday, it’s Veterans Day. Yeah, yeah, most government offices are closed, some of you even get the day off and we don’t get mail. But, it’s really the one day of the year where we American’s say a special thank you to all of the men and women who have served our great country in the armed services. A great opportunity to get social if there ever was one.

There are plenty of ways to give your thanks but here are some that are just a few keystrokes away.

On Facebook:

FB vetsVeterans group

Veterans FBVeterans

On Twitter:

FINF_100207_sm_web_bigger@helpingveterans

mil_bigger@supportmilitary

Hey all you West Coasters (especially you in SoCal), hit up your local Hooters today through Friday where 20% of your purchase (food, drink, merch) goes to the Yellow Ribbon Foundation. Also in full swing is ‘Operation Calendar Drop’. Guests can buy a Hooters calendar to be sent directly to a service member overseas.

Have a great day and Thank You, Thank You, Thank You to ALL of our Veterans and those who are currently serving in our armed services.

Emphasizing the ‘social’ in social networking

Written by: Digitally Approved
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The primary goal of most social networking sites is to explore the connections between people, thoughts, and ideas.  In addition to this, some users emphasize the competitive aspects of these connections; who has the most followers/friends, who makes the most comments, etc.  Additions like Facebook and Twitter mobile apps have expanded on the competitive and interactive nature of social networking, but have yet to incentivize its users.  Foursquare.com a newish social networking site encourages the competitive nature of its users, but instead of focusing on the mass of connections like the aforementioned, it has a more social goal by asking the question, “Where are you right now?”

Foursquare is a combination of a couple of simple functions.  First, users update by “checking in,” indicating where they are and what they are doing. This allows people to find their friends, but also to find and learn about their friend’s favorite spots.  Second, it tracks specific user’s use of the service.  Here’s where the competitive aspect comes into play; if a user goes to a specific place more than anyone else within a two month period, the user is deemed “Mayor” of that location.  Furthermore, it doles out “points” to users for posting on the site and bringing friends to locations.  These points allow users to receive “badges.” Each badge represents a different completed feat, such as going to new places with new people, traveling long distances, or repeatedly checking in from a particular location many times.  Third, it allows businesses to offer the “mayor” free (or nearly free) stuff in return for checking in from that business so many times.

foursquare page copy

From a business standpoint, it offers small business owners (and corporate businesses for that matter) who may struggle to find ways to effectively advertise or market, capitalization on free and effective publicity. The promotional freebie idea elevates the marketing to a new level: “Come to my store, tell everyone you’re there (perhaps your friends will follow and buy more of my stuff).  Do this enough times and I’ll give you freebies.”  Many companies, such as Sporty’s Pub and Grill in Minneapolis and Sweet Republic in Scottsdale are embracing this. Businesses in cities around the world including London, Amsterdam, New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver are offering freebies or steeply discounted items for Mayors.

foursquare phone pic

From the user standpoint, in addition to assisting social interaction, the services rendered will consistently attract new users.  In order to receive free stuff, users are required to demonstrate their commitment by going to businesses, checking in, and bringing friends. Furthermore, the competitive nature of the network allows for a more active web aspect than just “this is where I am, and this is how I feel about it.”  All of these components keep users coming back for more.

This reconciliation of the social web, human contact, and consumerism is revolutionary.  Instead of “Hey, Check out these great pics’ from the bar last night!” It’s, “We’re [insert specific destination here], come meet us!”  Within 24 hours the pics’ will likely still end up on Flickr, Photobucket or at the very least Facebook or TwitPic; thus strengthening the connection between what we do in person and what we do on the web.  Plus there’s the added benefit of maybe getting a free somthin’ somthin’ out of the whole thing.

Foursquare is indeed another relevant piece in the jigsaw puzzle of the modern social makeup, a new force that brings consumers and commerce together in mutually beneficial ways.