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Is the Early Release of Super Bowl Commercials Beneficial?

With the big game on Sunday, it’s almost impossible to go online without seeing something pertaining to the Super Bowl. While I enjoy hearing about the Patriots, one thing that really caught my attention has been all the talk regarding the widely anticipated Super Bowl commercials. I like Super Bowl commercials just as much as the next person, but I was surprised that I am already seeing the full commercials before the game has even happened. Did I miss something? Isn’t the point of paying 3 million dollars so the commercial will have its big debut during the Super Bowl, not weeks before on the internet? Well I really thought about this and tried to figure out the reasoning behind this new marketing strategy. While at first I was rather confused by this approach I do think it can have a positive impact for some companies, but definitely not all.

I just recently saw Chevy’s 2012 Super Bowl ad “Happy Grad,” a simple yet memorable commercial. Although it was posted early on the internet, it is greatly entertaining, which puts Chevy in a good position for when it does air. People are already talking about the commercial, which adds to the anticipation of other viewers. Instead of just being viewed during and after the Super Bowl, Chevy’s ad is being seen before the game has even started. The “Happy Grad” ad has already had 905,921 views on the popular site YouTube. The commercial will have a much longer lifespan than ads that are waiting to air on Super Bowl Sunday. This strategy has also given Chevy the advantage of having a larger return on investment by allowing their commercial to circulate for a longer amount of time on the internet and television. People will constantly be seeing the Chevy brand, giving them more incentive to buy from them. While this is a risky strategy, it works for Chevy because they have a good commercial that viewers find desirable.

While Chevy will most likely see a positive impact from releasing their commercial early, not all companies will get the same outcome. Another 2012 Super Bowl ad done by Lexus is called “The Beast.” Sounds pretty cool, huh? Well don’t let the name fool you because this commercial isn’t that special. When I began watching it, I was pretty interested, but then it became rather predictable and unexciting. I really didn’t find it entertaining and wouldn’t be too excited to see it again during the Super Bowl. While this may be my personal opinion on the ad, I think many people would feel the same way about seeing a commercial in the future that they didn’t even enjoy the first time. For me, now that I have already seen this commercial, I really don’t feel a need to pay attention to it again during the Super Bowl. I think this is a great downside to companies posting commercials that aren’t very entertaining and enjoyable before they are supposed to air. People already know what the ads are like and may not have an interest in them the second time around. Now that this Lexus ad has been around for over a week, people might even be sick of it by the time it actually airs.

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Overall I think it’s a pretty risky strategy to post your Super Bowl commercial before the actual game. You really have no idea how people will react to your ad and once it’s out, it’s out.  Viewers like the element of surprise and seeing Super Bowls ads before the game just doesn’t have that same effect. While some companies like Chevy may see a positive outcome from posting their ad, not all will get the same response. I was really surprised to see this happen this year and while I may understand the reasoning a little better, nothing beats seeing new commercials on Super Bowl Sunday.

Do you think releasing Super Bowl ads early is a good strategy? Will it detract from watching on game day? Tweet us @451Heat to share your thoughts!

Thanks to @bonnielester530 for this week’s post!

Bonnie is a 451 Marketing Marketing Intern. She is a senior at Worcester State University majoring in Business Administration.

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Online Backlash to SOPA and Samuel Adams ‘Hops’ Into Social

Top Story: SOPA/PIPA and the Online Protest

Image via Google

By now, you’ve seen the infographic above and are aware of SOPA/PIPA and the rather voal calls to action from many prominent online companies.  Just in case, here’s a rundown on why many are outraged by the proposed legislation

  • What do they stand for? SOPA is the “Stop Online Piracy Act” and PIPA stands for (deep breath) Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act.
  • SOPA, in the House of Representatives, and PIPA, in the US Senate are both targeting foreign websites that infringe on copyrighted materials
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), one of the major opponents to the bills, argue that “The standard for immunity is incredibly low and the potential for abuse is off the charts.  Basically, sites can be cut off based on “reasonable belief of infringement” – so, event if the claims made against a site end up being false, the site suffers.
  • Supporters of the legislation, mainly in the entertainment industry, feel that the charges brought on by SOPA/PIPA opponents have been blown out of proportion, the definition of infringement is clearly defined, and that the legislation is crucial in protecting their digital assets.

What we found most compelling about the reaction to the two pieces of legislation were the “protests” and banding together of many of the major social and search platforms in the US.  We’ve featured some of the most prominent below (click on images to enlarge):

   

  

   

Under the Radar: Super Bowl XLVI Will Have a Social Media Command Center

If you’re a social media user, chances are you’re posting to your Twitter feed and updating your Facebook status every time you’re watching a football game. And come Sunday, February 5, millions of users will be talking about the Super Bowl via social media, about everything from the players to the score to the commercials to the parking. Parking? Well, yes. The city of Indianapolis is expecting 150,000 visitors for Super Bowl weekend and they’ll be using social media to assist visitors with everything from finding parking to discovering the best the city has to offer.

The city will be setting up a Super Bowl Social Media Command Center today and it will remain in place until after the big game on February 5. The digital marketing agency managing the command center will set up advanced search tools and analytics to determine what fans need help and then will jump in and offer assistance where needed.

We can’t wait to see how the Social Media Command Center will manage to help people during the Super Bowl weekend and if it will set precedence for events in the future. Will all large-scale events begin to follow in suit and work to assist visitors and patrons? While we can see this working really well, we can also see people taking advantage of the increased customer service and getting extra upset when they can’t be helped. You know, like when there isn’t any close-by parking and they do have to walk a mile to get to the stadium.

 

Tool of the Week: Facebook Launches Timeline App Integration Platform

When the Spotify’s Facebook integration first launched, people either loved it or hated it. Some users thought it was fabulous that they could see what all their friends were listening to. And others were not happy that their Facebook friends could get such an up-close-and-personal look at their taste in music (perhaps they were a bit embarrassed?). Well, as of last week, there’s even more activity for you to see across your Facebook timeline. Facebook is now using the “open graph” API to allow developers to create apps that share user activitis on Facebook. From Pinterest to RunKeeper to TicketMaster, there are now close to 80 apps that you and your friends can integrate with your Facebook timeline.

Is this a good thing? Well, it depends on how you use Facebook. If you don’t care what articles your friends are reading, how many miles they’re running, what artists they’re listening to, or what food photos they’re taking, then this app integration will likely just annoy you and clog your newsfeed. But if you do care, or want to share your every move on the Internet with your own Facebook friends, you’ll find yourself loving the app integration. Luckily, Facebook makes it pretty easy to keep the integration shut off and to decide who you actually want to share details with. So, unlike the Spotify integration, you won’t find yourself unknowingly sharing your Justin Bieber obsession with all of your Facebook friends. Phew.

Of course, this is only the start with Facebook’s app integration and it’s likely we’ll be seeing more and more apps join in on the Facebook fun in the future. Before long, we might never have to leave Facebook.com. Which is exactly what they want.

 

Around The Hub: Samuel Adams Beer ‘Hops’ into Social

The Samuel Adams beer company has been the subject of social media scrutiny in the past because of its social media presence, or lack thereof. But that all changed in January, with the brewer launching a Twitter account, blog and crowd-sourced beer creation contest on Facebook.

Twitter: The account was officially launched on January 19th, and between then and the morning of January 23rd they had accumulated over 2500 followers and tweeted nearly 350 times. Almost every single one of their tweets is a response to someone who had engaged them. It looks like they were waiting to get their strategy in line before entering the space knowing they would be inundated and needed to be prepared for it. This was smart because if they had joined without a plan in action they may have ruined their chance at a strong account from the get-go. And as they said themselves…

Blog: Along with a Twitter account came a brand new Samuel Adams Blog. What is extremely interesting about this is the choice of content for the first ever blog post, that was written by founder Jim Koch. For the introductory post on the blog, Koch defended harsh words about Sam Calagione and his brewery Dogfish Head written in a Beer Advocate thread recently.

This demonstrates the tight-knit bond of the beer community, where they value their craft over rivalries with competing breweries. This also shows how fully invested in the social space the company now is, and that they are willing to push out original and possibly controversial topics.

Facebook: Samuel Adams has a decent size fan page (about 134,000 fans) with a fairly strong amount of engagement, but in the past had been lacking any really unique content. This changed when they partnered with Guy Kawasaki to create the ‘Crowd Craft Project’ – a beautifully designed and executed Facebook app that lets beer drinkers help create the next Sam Adams beer.

The app lets you choose different settings for types of yeast, hops, malt, body, clarity and color to create your ideal beer. The app lets each person submit one brew, with the top beer will be announced on February 5th and it being debuted in Austin and Boston in March.

What do you think of the SOPA/PIPA online backlash? Do you have your Facebook timeline yet? Will you be tweeting during Super Bowl XLVI? Tell us what you think of the Sam Adams social strategy? Follow the feedback with #451Labs hashtag and tweet us at @451heat.

Thank’s to @maxesilver, @susie, @halleyalice for contributing to this week’s #451Labs post!

 

Social Media Becomes More Social: My 2011 SXSW Experience

-Joselin Mane, Director of Social Media Strategy, 451 Marketing

Every year, technology innovators and early adopters from around the world converge upon the city of Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest interactive festival (the first in a series of festivals focused on interactive technologies, music, and film, respectively). This year, the 20,000 in attendance represented a veritable who’s who of Social Media and Digital Technology.  Surprisingly, it was my first year attending the festival, but it more than lived up to the hype.  The overarching theme – new technologies that take social networking offline and convert online interactions into real-life behaviors.  Applications that can help businesses and individuals capture value in their day-to-day social networking. (I can’t say I was surprised – I’ve been going to, promoting, and hosting hosting TweetUps for the past few years that have made this same online-offline conversion).  Here are a few of the applications and companies that caught my attention at this year’s festival.

Addieu is a free application that enables you to connect with someone on all social networks at once.  I really liked this application and met one of the founders while I was in Austin. “With just a few taps, you’ll be friends on Facebook, following each other on Twitter, and sharing your location on Foursquare.” Bye-bye, business cards.

 

 

 

Hurricane Party was an application that I saw in action many times while I was in Austin.  It’s a free iPhone app that helps friends find, share, and create spontaneous parties – “Life moves fast – hurricanes move faster.” Hurricane Party serves to replace email chains, voicemails, and confusing group chats with a single place where you can discover where your friends are going while simultaneously letting them know your plans. Hurricane Party can help businesses by increasing visits on a slow night, raising awareness about a new item on the menu, or promoting an event. For me, what really stands out about this app is the map view, what they call a “Forecast” – you can see parties around you with different colors indicating how many people have signed up.

Car2go is a company in Austin similar to ZipCar with one major difference: you can leave your car anywhere (well, anywhere in Austin, that is). Whenever you need a car, you can book one of 300 Car2go’s in the city, drive where you want and for as long as you want, and simply park the car at your destination – no need to return to a pre-determined spot.  Also unlike Zipcar, all the cars are the same make and model – smart fortwo. These cars are so small they could be parked almost anywhere –  two of these could be parked side to side in the same space a normal 4 door sedan would take up.  Again, I love the simplicity of the map view which allows you to see where the closest vehicle is in relation to you at any given moment.

Yobongo is a place for people to share ideas, talk about what’s happening, and connect with interesting people nearby. Basically, if someone asks a question, people using Yobongo can answer them as if they were a friend. I’m actually in a group with the founder of the application. Unfortunately, this app is currently only available in San Francisco, Austin, TX, New York, NY and Long Beach for TED conference.

 

 

Beluga is an app that helps groups of friends stay in touch on the go. For instance, you could use it to plan a night out or just share updates and photos. In Beluga, ‘pods’ are private groups of friends. Within a pod, all members see all updates, photos and shared locations, but no one who is not a member of a pod can access its data.  Even though a very similar service called GroupMe won this year’s breakout award, most of my friends opted to use Beluga because instead of giving out your phone number you provide an email.  Beluga was great tool to use in Austin because it was an easy way for me to privately talk to my friends and determine whether it was worthwhile to travel across town to an event. It was also great to know where everyone wanted to meet for lunch. There were times when Beluga users became very active and many popup notification messages would appear in a very short period of time. However this didn’t happen too often. And even though the groups were create at SXSW, I am still active with 2 of my Beluga pods.

LevelUp (a SCVNGR property) works with businesses to create the best deals within a city.  Each business has three levels of deals: good, better and best. When you use a deal on LevelUp, you’ll “level-up” to get access to the next level deal at that business. You get introduced to the best places in town with an unbeatable deal that gets better as you use it. Think of it like getting rewarded for becoming a regular at the places you love. Currently it’s only available in Boston and Philadelphia. I haven’t found any deals that have appealed to me but I will keep checking it.

Foursquare isn’t new to the scene, but there are some interesting developments in the application.  As before, by “checking in” via a smartphone app or SMS, users share their location with friends while earning virtual badges and points. Foursquare’s new version has 3 major changes: “personalized recommendations” which now makes it easier to look at friends’ check-ins/tips to get ideas of good restaurants in a given area; an updated point system to reflect more of the things users are proud of; and, most importantly for business,  six new ways to reward user loyalty: Check-in Specials, Friend Specials, Flash Specials (e.g. the first 10 people to show up after 5 p.m. get a free drink), Swarm Specials, Newbie Specials, Mayor Specials and Loyalty Specials.  Foursquare had many custom badges for SXSW in addition to many promo’s. Interestingly enough, my friends’ activity on Foursquare didn’t seem to be as high as I would have suspected while I was at SXSW.

Last, but definitely not least, Gowalla (a local Austin company) is another “check-in” location-based app that does more than just “check-in.” You can take photos, comment on places friends go, and share highlights from your life.  You may also find virtual items left around the world like digital souvenirs. Many items are redeemable for real-world rewards such as apparel, movie tickets, gadgets and more.  Check in with Gowalla on your phone to stamp your Passport at each place you visit – kind of like stamping your passport in real life. Since Gowalla was a local Austin company, there were more local brands using and promoting them.

So, how are these technologies helpful for businesses?  With an integrated PR, Social, and SEO strategy, fear of diminished foot traffic fades away. It’s no longer cool to just sit at home on a computer and socially network – the new social media is actually social and applications foster meeting up with other users, enjoying special offers at business you love and discovering new places and venues with your friends.

“We catch fish using fishing rods, nothing else"

Recently, while at an event, I had a discussion with a marketing director at a large law firm here in Boston. The subject of online lead generation was brought up and here was his knee-jerk response:

“We are not interested in online lead generation at the law firm, because we’re primarily a business to business law firm and we only get business from known referrers.”

I found this response odd, as most of our clients are in the B2B space, but not surprising. Many people are not privy to the current data and trends surrounding social media, online marketing, and purchasing behavior for the B2B buyer. I immediately informed him that we work with many law firms, accounting firms, and consulting firms in the B2B space. I supported my statement by sighting recent data and statistics from reports and studies by Forrester Research, MarketingSherpa, MarketingProfs, and B2B Magazine. I stated that nearly all of the data and qualitative analysis suggests that B2B buyers of technology and/or services are influenced by social media, and that most B2B marketers plan on increasing their online marketing spend in 2009.

Here was his second response:

“Well, we don’t want that type of business that you get online”

Huh? It was like someone claiming that they don’t want the business they get from public relations, advertising, direct marketing, or even networking. In my response, I explained how one of our professional service clients (that offers audit, tax, consulting, and wealth management services – with over 400 employees) is averaging over 20 new business leads per month, and has generated over $600,000 in new contracts that directly resulted from, and are tracked by, our efforts over the last 6 months. I also cited how when I have made purchasing decisions for our 20+ person agency in the past, I was greatly influenced by product reviews and advice/referrals from individuals in my LinkedIn groups, as well as from content that I downloaded online and from search results on Google. He still wasn’t buying it and so I moved on.

fish-stocking-1Later in the day I asked myself, “Why wouldn’t someone want this type of business (from online sources)?” I thought about what he said and equated his statements to something like “We catch fish using fishing rods, nothing else. We don’t want to try using nets, fishing boats, or any other means because we don’t want the type of fish that you catch using these tools.”

Thinking in these terms helped me to understand that there really was only one answer to my question… It wasn’t that this marketer didn’t want this type of business (as I am sure the firm’s leaders would agree); it was just that this person didn’t want to engage in an activity that he didn’t fully comprehend. This is a very common issue among c-level marketingfishing execs.

My conclusion led me to another question—with social media adoption (for general usage) among B2B buyers growing at a much higher percentage rate than that of B2B marketers (for marketing purposes), wouldn’t it make sense that the marketers who embrace this shift in purchasing behavior at an early stage also be the ones that realize the greatest benefit (i.e. the largest “catch”)?

My advice to any person in a senior marketing role is to educate themselves as quickly as possible on the current trends, data, and purchasing behavior of the B2B buyer and how the Web is influencing and impacting their purchasing decisions.

If you don’t like change, you‘re going to like irrelevance even less.”— General Eric. Shinseki, retired Chief of Staff, U. S. Army

Selling the C-Suite on Social Media

One of the popular questions I get asked is “How do I build support for a social media campaign at the C-level?” To get decision makers like your CEO and CFO behind a social media campaign, you must have a well defined objective. Ask yourself, “Whabosst do I want to get out of my campaign?” Do you want to enhance customer service, corporate reputation, brand personality? Or, do you want to generate new leads for your business?

Your social media strategy will vary depending upon your objective. But once you have a concrete objective and strategy, you will need to be able to articulate to the higher-ups how your company will be able to demonstrate the campaign’s effectiveness.

The question about how to measure the return on investment (ROI) for social media participation comes up in every workshop I deliver. The fact is, you can measure ROI in a number of ways:

Participation: The extent to which users engage with your content. For example, blog comments, Facebook wall posts, or YouTube ratings.

Traffic: The number of unique visitors versus repeat visitors to your Web site.

Influence: The number of users who subscribe to your content. For blogs: RSS feed or email subscribers; Twitter followers; or fans of your Facebook page.

Authority: The quality of inbound links to your content

Unfortunately, regardless of your social media campaign’s objectives, your C-level bosses will still probably scratch their heads at these measurements because they will not be able to connect the spend with quantifiable results. The fact is, we can’t attach a dollar value to a conversation, visit, link, comment, or a friend request like we can do with advertising and ad equivalency ratings.

So, you have to convince the C-suite to look at it another way. One way I like to think of ROI is the Risk of Ignoring. Conversations about your company’s products or services are going to take place online whether you are aware of them or not. Many consumers increasingly expect that their online ruminations will be monitored and responded to in real-time. By joining social networking sites, you can listen to your clients, engage them in conversation, address their questions and concerns, and empower them to be ambassadors of your brand. Otherwise, you risk ignoring your clients and prospects and risk losing them to competitors.

But, as a social media marketing advocate AND as a small business owner who understands the importance of watching the bottom line, the way I like to measure the ROI for social media participation is by the number of quality new business leads generated. At 451 Marketing, we generate business leads for our clients by monitoring the Web for mentions that relate to their offerings, engaging current and prospective clients in conversation, and providing them with helpful information (i.e. white-papers, podcasts, webinars, wikis) that we develop to address their needs. When an individual expresses a need for one of our client’s products or services or downloads content, we turn their contact information over to our client as a qualified business lead. If our client’s sales team converts that lead into a win, that’s a measurable dollar figure that they can take to the bank.