Monthly Archives May 2011

Facebook Friday: Weekly Analysis of Facebook Campaigns – Arby’s Chicken Salad Taste-Off

Welcome to Facebook Fridays, our new weekly feature where we look at various Facebook marketing campaigns, and examine what went right, what went wrong, and everything in-between. First up: Arby’s “Chicken Salad Taste-Off” campaign.

How do you launch a new product offering to the masses and utilize social media to help you gain buzz and trial?

Chicken Salad Taste OffWell, if you’re Arby’s, you conduct a taste challenge against a similar offering. So was born the great “Chicken Salad Taste-Off,” which pitted Subway‘s Orchard Chicken Salad Sub against Arby’s Market Fresh Grilled Chicken & Pecan Salad Sandwich and Wrap. (We know which sandwich wins for Most Unnecessarily Long Name. Are you supposed to say, “Yes, I’ll have one Arby’s Market Fresh Grilled Chicken & Pecan Salad Sandwich and Wrap,” every time you order one? But I digress…onto the ins-and-outs of Arby’s Facebook campaign.)

The Campaign:
1. Like gated coupon was given to consumers for the new offering from Arby’s.
2. Consumers were encouraged to try both sandwiches and return to the page to vote for the one they liked best.
3. In order to encourage voting, Arby’s partnered with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and pledged to donate $1 per vote, and up to $25k, to the charity partner.

The Results:
The campaign recently ended and one of the most glaring results was that Arby’s was unable to achieve their goal of 25K votes. The total vote count, according to the Facebook page which housed the application, was just under 10,000. The good news for Arby’s, however, is that their sandwich did receive over 80% of the votes, making it the clear favorite. (Big Surprise there.)

The impact on the page does seem to be pretty significant, with the total number of Likes increasing by 58% from 323,600 to over 510,000 in just the 12 days the campaign was active (according to monitor.wildfireapp.com).

What Worked:
There are a few significant things that worked about this campaign:
Simplicity of offer: A Like gated coupon is a great way to help build a fan base. It is simple for a user to do, and also gives them a reward for this simple action.
Buzz worthy: Arby’s could have easily designed a landing tab for the coupon and any new fan who liked them would receive the coupon, but left out the challenge aspect of the campaign. By throwing down the gauntlet and directly challenging the competition they created significant buzz around the event.
Support: Arby’s also conducted a blogger outreach campaign to coincide with the launch and pushed the story through traditional media as well. This integrated campaign promotion helped drive the results.

And ultimately, the huge increase in Likes was a big win for Arby’s. That alone makes the campaign a success from a marketing perspective.

Where It Fell Short:
The campaign was successful by most measures in helping to drive awareness and trial of this new product, but where it was lacking was in the continued interaction they were requesting from the consumers. To ask someone to not only visit for your offer once, but then return and re-engage, is a tough task for any brand and one in which Arby’s missed the mark.

Takeaway:
The biggest takeaway is to make sure your goal is tied to a simple action from your fans. If you make things too complicated or ask them to take multiple steps, you will naturally decrease your conversion rate, as you lose those who just don’t have the time to complete the second action. By trying to tie your end goal to a single simple action that a user can take, you are more likely to increase your conversions and the engagement with the brand.

BlogHer Food 2011: Takeaways

This weekend I attended the BlogHer Food conference in Atlanta. I came to the conference to learn more from about food blogging from the agency-side and from a blogger’s perspective, as I write my own food blog. It was a breath of fresh air to step away from the agency side of things and meet with other bloggers to discuss food, recipes and techniques, as well as building a network of friends. I told a couple of colleagues that this conference felt more like a community than a place to network and find leads.

BlogHer Food had various sessions covering topics including recipe writing, social media, branding and search engine optimization. Here are my takeaways from the two-day event:

General Food Writing

  1. Write from the heart. Readers like authenticity. Think of your readers and you will always make the right decision.
  2. According to Amelia Pane Schaffner (@ZTastyLife), when writing a restaurant review,”It’s good to have a balance; excessive ranting is bad. There must be something positive about a restaurant.”
  3. Donna Pierce of @BlackAmerCooks advises food bloggers to be honest and write negative reviews about restaurants.

Recipe Writing

  1. Food blogging is not repurposing someone else’s work.
  2. When adapting recipes, ask for permission from the author/creator of the original recipe.
  3. Useful sites to read for info on ethics and copyrighting : www.blogwithintegrity.com and foodethics.wordpress.com

Social Media

  1. Use social media to promote your brand.
  2. Use the different social media channels effectively.
    • Mrs. Q (@fedupwithlunch): “The power of #socialmedia: you can reach so many, [and more] when you use a hashtag.”
    • Facebook is for conversations.
    • Twitter is for nuggets of information.
    • Be careful when using social media. According to cookbook author David Leite (@davidleite), “It can take years to build a reputation, but it can take two tweets to lose it.”

Search Engine Optimization
This SEO session offered great tips on how to optimize recipes without sounding like a robot.

  1. Have keyword phrases and voice – these are the two most important things about blogging. Write like you are going to write normally and keep your keyword phrase(s) in mind. It will come to you organically.
  2. Want to be seen in Google ? Use Google Rich Snippets, or hrecipe.
  3. Content is king, but structure is queen. All recipes should follow the same structure.
    • Recipe Title
    • Ingredients
    • Directions or Instructions or Method
  4. Name your photos. An example they used is ‘Braised-Lamb-Shank.jpg’.
  5. Optimize your website for mobile using HTML5.
  6. If your blog runs on WordPress, utilize the following plugins:
    • HRecipe
    • EasyRecipe
    • RecipeSEO
  7. If you use Blogger (like me – deecuisine.com), you can optimize your content manually with the HTML editor by effectively using:
    • unordered lists <ul> to list Ingredients
    • ordered lists <ol> to list Instructions
  8. Again, structure is important. It may seem daunting the first time, but after a few blog posts, you’ll get the hang of it.

The closing keynote was inspirational, motivating, and the perfect way to end a conference with these key takeaways, which can be applied to anything beyond a food blog:

  1. Quality is everything and can sell itself. Having quality content will allow you to make a name for yourself.
  2. Stop giving away your value so cheaply.
  3. Think outside the laptop! If you want to be a brand, consider modifying your website to be readable beyond the laptop; use HTML5 so your website is readable on mobile devices.

My favorite quote from the BlogHer Food conference comes from David Leite. “You [food bloggers] are some of the most powerful people in media right now. The first time a blogger posted a recipe from my site I flew into a fury. I wanted to bring out the lawyers I was told very quietly by my publisher — don’t annoy the bloggers. They are too important. But don’t abuse your power. You can use it for good or you can use for evil. You can be seen as great, or you can be seen as skanks.”

Interview: Tony Scalzo of Fastball

Tony Scalzo of Fastball

Fastball and its co-lead singer, Tony Scalzo, first found success with the band’s 1998 hits “The Way” and “Out Of My Head,” which became radio and MTV staples just prior to the rise of Napster and the Internet’s leveling of the music business. But even as the industry changed, Fastball continued to create its own brand of tight, catchy and smart records, quietly resulting in a stellar catalog. Throughout, Scalzo’s blend of Paul McCartney-esque melodicism and craftsmanship with Elvis Costello-style wordplay has filled Fastball’s albums – including the group’s latest, 2009’s excellent Little White Lies – with numerous pop gems. Now, Scalzo is planning his first solo album and has turned to Kickstarter for help in making it happen. At Kickstarter, fans pledge at different levels to assist in funding creative projects of all kinds, from albums to movies, in exchange for certain rewards. The rub: if the monetary goal is not met by a certain deadline, the artist gets nothing.

We recently spoke with Scalzo about why he’s using Kickstarter to get his solo project off the ground, his views on the Internet and its role in music today, and what it’s like to play a concert in someone’s home.

Flightpath: Fastball’s last album, Little White Lies, came out in 2009. What made you decide that now was the right time for a solo album, and what led you to Kickstarter?

Tony Scalzo: Well, [Little White Lies] was over two years ago. We went on tour with that record, probably put about 45,000 miles on the road. Three or four months of touring, opening up for Sugar Ray for a month. We were totally active. We did lots of radio stuff. A lot of that touring though, we really didn’t make a lot of money, because we were piggybacking with Sugar Ray. It was supposed to be an exposure thing, but unfortunately, the tour didn’t really do us much good.

So we basically struggled through the process of paying for the record we’d made, and our touring [profits] went to paying back the credit card debt we’d incurred recording Little White Lies, which was substantial. And then last year, ironically, having not really put out anything for a year, we played a lot of one-offs all over the country, and we did really well [monetarily]. And we still do that; we’re planning on having a really big summer of weekend shows. It pays the best and we get to stay home for most of the week.

So anyway, I guess about seven months ago, Miles [Zuniga, co-lead singer of Fastball] starting working on his [solo] record. He has lots of songs that he’d been writing over the years. And he got that going, and I watched how well he did on his Kickstarter program to get the money together for his. So you know, it’s a great tool, where you don’t really have to put yourself in debt [to make an album]. The only thing you have to do is honor the rewards that you promise people for donating. Some people see a lot of value in some of those rewards, so they’re willing to throw down and be a part of the actual making of a record. And I think that’s really cool. I don’t know if I’m going to do quite as well as Miles did. I’m kind of behind right now. But I’m happy with the way I’ve gotten tons of support.

Flightpath: How did you come up with the rewards? It seems like you had a list of everything a fan could dream of. It was like, “Autographed CD, check. Unreleased demos, check. Acoustic concert in my home, check.”

Tony Scalzo: Yeah. I went around the whole Kickstarter site to see what other artists were offering and how much they wanted. I just sort of went from there and decided what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t really want to call people and wish their mom a happy birthday, or sing to their mom. [Laughs] That’s cool and all, but it’s not really what I’ve got in mind.

But I have some other cool things, you know, like recording a video of me in my house, singing a song [on request]. I like the [listening] party idea, to get those mid-range pledges all together and have a party. Treat them to some drinks.

Flightpath: You also already have a pledge at the $2,000 level.

Tony Scalzo: That’s true! That was like, the first day, too. So you can imagine, I was like, “Oh, wow, this is going to be no sweat.” It happens to be someone I knew, and someone local, which is awesome.

Flightpath: Have you ever played someone’s house before?

Tony Scalzo: Oh, yeah. It’s usually a pretty special thing. It’s pretty worth it. Miles and I have done a lot of that kind of thing, and actually plan on doing more of it in the future.

Tony Scalzo of Fastball

Flightpath: If this works, do you think you’ll stick with Kickstarter for your next album?

Tony Scalzo: Well, the record, it’s gonna be a long time before this whole thing is complete. I think it’s a little longer than a lot of people might think, too. Miles’ record is still not out, and he got his funding months and months ago. I’m not saying that I haven’t started, ‘cause I have. I’ve done some basic tracks, but it’s gonna be a little while in that studio. Then there’s the manufacturing, and I plan on getting some promotional people together. To really have a campaign, you have to.

Flightpath: That was one thing that struck me in your Kickstarter video. You’re kind of listing all the things that are going into this, and there are some things that I’m guessing you’ve never done before. Stuff like manufacturing the CD, and just being in charge of the whole project in a new kind of way. How do you feel about that?

Tony Scalzo: Well, I must say — this is important, because this is the new world, right? And you know what? Having done really well in the old world [Laughs]…the new world, for musicians and artists having to deal so much with business, it distracts. There is such a thing as separation of left and right brain, and it takes away. I’m not writing [songs] for the last couple of weeks. I’m playing a lot, because I’m doing gigs, but I’m dealing with [trying to finance my album]. I do have those [business] fears, which I think is legit. You end up becoming a record exec instead of a musician.

I’m a musician; I’m a songwriter. That’s really all I’ve ever wanted to do. I play my songs, and that’s really all I care about.

Flightpath: In the Kickstarter video, you talk about how with today’s digital technology, anyone can make records in their basement, or wherever they want, for really cheap, but that you’re used to working in studios to create better sounding recordings. And you can hear it on the Fastball records. With tracks like “Wind Me Up,” there are layers of harmonies, guitars and strings.

Tony Scalzo: It’s true, man. I have to be honest. If anybody thinks that I can just go and make a record in somebody’s kitchen on substandard mics and all digital, and do the kinds of things [I want], and reach the standards that I have with Fastball, they’re just wrong. There are fans that are going to be short-changed.

Why should the quality of music go down with the technology going up? If I want it lo-fi, I’ll do it. But the stuff I do, I really want all those textures, and I want fine lines. I want those values in there. It’s super important to my fans. I know that. That’s why they like Fastball.

Flightpath: Can you talk a little bit about how you’re approaching the writing and the creation of the album? It’s the first time you’re really doing it on your own.

Tony Scalzo: Yeah, and at the same time, I have a team of a few people, including the guys in my [solo] band, that I’m working with. We work out a lot of the songs in rehearsals and at shows. These new songs can be heard live. I do play them live. They’re not recorded yet; they’re only in demo form. One of the rewards, which I think is cool, like we talked about, is the demos of all these songs. You get to hear the evolution of the album.

So I work all that out with the band, but I call the shots, as far as the final word. But it’s great to bounce ideas off people. I can’t just run in and play all the instruments. I’m gonna get a lot of ideas from the musicians that are gonna play on it. There’s already a couple of tracks that are underway. We’ve got drums, bass, acoustic guitar and scratch vocals on three songs. So, we build on those, which are gonna be the nucleus of the record.

Most of the songs are written, but not all the songs are completed. I think that I’m gonna be running around last minute, writing lines and filling in things. That’s the way I’ve always done stuff, and that’s the way Miles has always done stuff. We both get to an impasse and say, “Okay, I’ll see you in about 10 minutes,” and run off somewhere and try and figure it out. And one of us comes in and makes it work. So, I’m looking forward to that stuff. That’s the real energy of creation. That’s when it really feels like you’re doing something.

Stephen Belans is producing it. I’m actually gonna be using Joe Blaney [to] mix it. He’s done Keith Richards’ solo records, he did Combat Rock by the Clash. He’s just an awesome guy and I’ve been wanting to work with him forever. I’ve got George Reiff playing bass on a couple of tracks. He plays with Jakob Dylan.

Flightpath: Will Miles play on it?

Tony Scalzo: Actually, a couple of the songs are collaborations with Miles. Some of them are Fastball songs that never made the grade or whatever. I’m putting a couple of those in there. Some of them are just from these last few months of writing.

A lot of it’s gonna be along the same lines of what people expect from me. Hooky melodies. I don’t really like to go off into Radiohead land. I think there’s too many bands doing that anyway, and I like to hear a tune.

There’s a band called The Belle Brigade, and they’re incredible. They sound like Simon & Garfunkel meets Fleetwood Mac, circa ’75. I’m going to be using their record as a textual template. You sort of bring records to the studio, and you A/B them with what you’re doing. “Does it come close to this? Are we getting in that zone?” In Fastball sessions, we’ve always tried to make things sound like the records we love.

Flightpath: Finally, as a musician, how do you feel about the Internet? On one hand, it’s kind of responsible for the destruction of the industry with file sharing, yet on the other hand, it’s given artists new ways to promote their music or even with Kickstarter, to fund it.

Tony Scalzo: I think the Internet is awesome, and I think we’re just trying to figure out how to optimize it. I get a lot of new music off the Internet, off of things like Facebook, especially. Just that one little vein of social networking really provides the bulk of my informational intake. I find out about new bands, I find out about local stuff. Also Twitter, you can put up links that get out to a lot more people a lot faster.

With Kickstarter, so many people are throwing down and showing support. They can also help by just sharing the link. So that’s awesome. I think there are ways to really optimize with Kickstarter.

You can view all pledge rewards and donate to Tony Scalzo’s album at his Kickstarter page. For the latest on Fastball, visit their official site.

Getting the Like is Only Half the Battle

“A Facebook Like or a Twitter follower has no value to a brand until they are activated.” – Zuberance CEO, Rob Fuggetta

This quote was made during a recent panel discussion put on by Zuberance and Big Fuel. The panel was titled “How to Turn Word of Mouth Marketing into Sales,” and focused on utilizing a brand’s advocates as their best marketing tool.

Turning a customer into an advocate doesn’t always happen automatically, and as marketers, it is not our job to produce the great product or create the great service. Instead, what we are charged with, especially in the age of social media, is utilizing tools and platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to encourage this activity and help our client’s bottom lines.

So how do we encourage this behavior and turn more consumers into advocates?

  • Utilizing a platform to create a shared experience

    This speaks to giving relevance to a conversation between consumers. By allowing them to have a shared experience, you give them something to talk about and connect with that they are passionate about. A great example of this concept was the JetBlue “All You Can Jet” program.
    This platform allowed customers to purchase a ticket for a one-time fee and use it to fly as many times as they wanted on any of the Jet Blue routes during this period. The program utilized Facebook as a place where consumers who had participated in the promotion could congregate and share their adventures with each other, or propose the way they would use the ticket once they purchased it.
    This sense of community developed to the point that the members launched their own event that was attended by over 200 people in Las Vegas. Jet Blue did not set this up, but instead the consumers themselves organized and hosted the event on their own.
  • Create content of value

    This means that in social you can’t use the platforms as a sales channel only. In fact, one of the panelists even went as far as to say in his mind that a brand has to earn the right to talk about their product.

    Instead, your content should be something that provides value to the consumer. Huggies traditional media focuses on the product’s value proposition, i.e. best absorption, most comfortable, etc., but in the social space their content is centered around being a resource to help moms with potty training. They focus on helping to solve this problem and develop a relationship with the consumer by being a resource on this issue.

  • Don’t pay, but thank

    Social Media is all about transparency, and if you are given a recommendation by someone but later find out it was bought you, feel shilled, and it harms the reputation of the person making the recommendation. However, it is important to thank a consumer once they do advocate on your behalf. This shows other consumers that you appreciate the action taken and they might be more willing to engage in that action themselves.

  • Allow the advocate to feel invested

    To further the concept of thanking the advocate, you also have to make sure that they feel their feedback is important as well. By opening up the lines of communication through the social channels, you allow the consumer a feeling of importance, and if you take that even further and utilize that information, you provide them ownership. If you feel like you own something, you most likely will want to share it.

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p class=”MsoNormal”>Building up a large number of likes or increasing your followers is a great accomplishment in the eyes of most brands, but being able to turn that community into an energized group of advocates is where the real value lies.

For more insights from the panel check out #NYBAS on Twitter.

Google Searches and Finds “Dear Sophie” and “It Gets Better”

Occasionally technology can surprise the living s%&t out of you and make you feel totally connected – to your inner most human – by dialing up the emotion and forgetting all else. Google’s recent advertising and YouTube spots, “Dear Sophie” and “It Gets Better,” illustrate the potential to sell a story better than ever before.

“Dear Sophie” tells a dad’s story of the life and times of his daughter, Sophie, through the prism/functionality of the Chrome browser. It is nimble, poetic and sensitive. It is more a scrapbook than a piece of creative, just as memories are almost always more emotional screen grabs than historical playbacks. The spot shows Sophie as a dynamic life force and growing through life stages right before our eyes, just as Google has.

Ultimately, “Dear Sophie” is supremely moving, touching and filled with heart. All the more amazing? This is a commercial for nothing more than a web browser. Not bad for a company that refused to do commercials of any kind up to this point.

The spot Google created for the “It Gets Better” project, an organization whose mission is to prevent/end teen gay, lesbian, and trans-gender suicide by providing a context full of life experiential hope. It is real, if not raw, and frames the promise of “life getting better” by a breadth of people who have “lived the life and earned the right” to share the message of “it gets better”. Pro-social activist “celebrities” including Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert and Woody from Toy Story are featured in the spot.

It is hard to imagine Google telling its story of human engagement, purpose and information clarity better than through these emotionally rich, wonderfully framed spots. Sure, it is a risky way of telling a functional superiority story – the things Chrome does – but if your name is Google and your mission is to change how the world gets information, how do you not put it all out there?

Twitter and Social Media Create Community Around Death of Osama bin Laden

osama bin laden facebook twitter

Much has already been written about the death of Osama bin Laden and how the news and discussion of it spread quickly over the Internet. “Twitter traffic spiked to more than 4,000 tweets per second at the beginning and end of President Obama’s speech…announcing the death of Osama Bin Laden,” said Twitter’s Matt Graves. While this is not as high a rate as the Tweets surrounding the Japanese New Year, it is still mind-boggling, considering the time slot (late Sunday evening is not high trafficked real estate for any form of media). But what does all this really mean? Why was the first thought for so many people – myself included – to head to Twitter and Facebook?

At their core, Twitter and Facebook meet a need that most successful brands and products have mastered the art of selling: they give people a place to belong. While everyone is different, we are social creatures by nature. For sports fans, a favorite team is more than just something to read about or watch on television; it becomes something you identify with, and by extension, makes you feel apart of something. People become brand loyalists to things as varied as PlayStation, Original Penguin or Android not just because they like the quality of the product, but also because they gain entrance into a community. With Twitter and Facebook, the experience is pure community in the form of digital socializing. This is not a groundbreaking notion, of course, but understanding what makes them resonate with people offers clues as to why they were destinations when the news broke.

Many sites are saying that the “news” of bin Laden’s death spread on Facebook and Twitter, but that’s misleading. People went to Twitter and Facebook to feel involved and connected to those around them when it mattered most; to see others’ comments, jokes, and opinions, and to share their own. Maybe it’s semantic, but to say that Facebook and Twitter were just places where “news spread” undervalues what Facebook and Twitter bring to the social landscape.

Social Media Marketing 2011 Trends and Best Practices

2011 Social Media Marketing Trends and Best Practices

Everyone knows by now that social media in general and social media marketing in particular is incredibly fluid and dynamic. With that disclaimer, I want to introduce a new Flightpath deck entitled ‘2011 Social Media Marketing Trends and Best Practices.’

Some of the ideas and concepts contained herein date back 2008 and publication of the breakthrough book ‘Groundswell,’ by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. Some of these innovations were introduced by Facebook last week. Some of these points are common sense and some of them are open to debate.
It breaks down as follows:

PART 1: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY – With facts, stats and observations about the overall SM landscape

PART 2: SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING MECHANICS – Presenting overarching themes for development of Social Media Marketing campaign

PART 3: KEY CAMPAIGN COMPONENTS – With practical, usable guides to things like Facebook Ads, effective Facebook Promotions, building a Twitter following, and key social media campaign measurement stats

We welcome your comments on the deck and hope you’ll share it with friends and colleagues that may find it to be of interest.

Follow this link to download the deck.