labs

Ebay’s New Familiar Format, FB & Emoji Unite, New Food App, & How the iPhone 5 Jolted Revenue for Boston Newspaper

 

Top Story: Ebay’s New Format 

In the increasingly popular landscape of visually-focused user-friendly websites and applications, EBay made its first major design change in 17 years by announcing a blatantly Pinterest-like layout last Wednesday.  In an attempt to monopolize on the Pinterst craze of 2012, eBay announced that it will introduce new browsing and shopping experience where users can “Collect” (see “Pin”) products in “Collections” (“Boards”).  You can also “Follow” categories and vendors. EBay takes the design a step further than Pinterest by creating a “Feed” of items that an algorithm determines might be of interest to the user a la Amazon.

 

Design from Pinterest, functionality from Amazon, and, in case you missed it, a new logo pretty similar to another major online player – guess who?

The new layout makes a lot of sense – Pinterest has been shown to be the top social media referral site for ecommerce. And, creating a more elegant, intuitive process for their 105 million active users is good for business: eBay shares were up 1.2% following the announcement.

 

Under the Radar: Facebook Comments Now Support Emoticons

Smiley face to that? When it comes to emails and texts (hello, emoji), we’re fans of emoticons. They’re fun, quirky, and private. Meaning we can post an entire stream of silly smilies and cutesy animals and our recipients will likely laugh out loud. But do emoticons belong in the public realm that is Facebook? The social media platform just enabled emoticons for commenting and reactions are mixed.

We’ve been able to send emoticons on Facebook for a while now, via the private chat feature. But never have we had them showing up in our news feed  And while you still can’t include emoticons in your status updates, you can leave them all you want in comments. Of course, Facebook doesn’t have quite the selection of emoticons like services such as emoji do, but this will still come in handy for turning your 🙂 into actual smilie faces.

While many Facebook users are excited about this new development, we’ve already spotted tutorials on how users can disable the emoticon option. And we understand why. The emoticon feature could become annoying quickly, especially if more options are added. Not to mention, emoticons could certainly take away from the professionalism of a Facebook business page. Let’s just hope they’re not abused too much. And that Facebook waits a decent amount of time before allowing users to update statuses with emoticons.

Are you excited to start commenting with emoticons or do you wish emoticons would remain for private conversations only?

 

Tool of the Week: New FoodSmart App Helps Keep Dieters on Track

On October 7th, the free iOS and Android app, FoodSmart, was launched as a platform to help consumers make healthy choices without forfeiting flavor. The app combines the “communal wisdom of food ratings” with nutritional advice to help consumers make healthier decisions while grocery shopping or making something to eat at home.

The health-centric app is designed with bar-code scanning technology that allows users to scan a particular food item that takes them to a screen that provides a summary of the item, Yelp-like review, and a nutritional scale rating based on how much healthier the item is compared to other foods. The app also provides users with suggestions on related products and recommendations to pair with your specified food.

You might be wondering how accurate the information is – well, the creators gathered health data from nutritionists, doctors, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s nutritional database to create an algorithm as a basis for their rating system. There are about 20,000 food and drink items included in the app, and are all rated on a scale of zero – 100 with 100 meaning that the food is healthier than 100% of the foods in the app. Zero might just be that snickers bar hidden in your desk, in which you probably wouldn’t be referring to the app anyways!

The creators have additional plans to make the app very interactive allowing users to rate items and see how other consumers rated each item. Additionally, there are plans to use adaptive learning to create personalized nutrition guides for each user over time – including storing special conditions like diabetes, blood pressure, and food intolerances. Now that part is pretty cool!

Will you be downloading FoodSmart and making a commitment to TRY to eat it better?

 

Around the Hub: iPhone 5 Release Propels Gazelle Over $35M in Revenue

While most people analyze the impact of the iPhone 5 on Apple, Android, Google and other mobile carriers, there is a whole other industry that loves to see new phone releases; used phone buyers like Boston-based Gazelle.

Whenever a new phone comes out, especially with the iPhone, there is a huge group of consumers looking to quickly unload their current phone for cash, which is where Gazelle has built a very successful business already. And over the last few weeks, with the release of the iPhone 5 they have pushed their yearly revenue over $35 million, up from $8 million in 2009.

Israel Ganot, Gazelle’s co-founder and CEO says “It’s a huge inflection point for us,” and “What’s changing is market adoption of re-commerce, and consumer behavior.” While only 3% of US consumers are believed to use re-commerce sites like Gazelle, there is a good chance a large group of those 3% are early adopters that would purchase the iPhone 5.

If you are looking to upgrade your iPhone 4s 32GB (I used my phone as an example) to the iPhone 5, Gazelle will give you $185 right now, more than half what you need for the new iPhone with an upgrade! Check out what your old devices are worth today!

 

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How Social Media Enhanced the Academy Awards

The 84th annual Academy Awards was a chaotic event to say the least. Between Sacha Baron Cohen dumping “Kim Jong Il’s ashes” on Ryan Seacrest’s designer suit, the cast of “Bridesmaids” presenting their Martin Scorsese drinking game, and J.Lo’s debatable wardrobe malfunction, viewers gave up their regularly scheduled Sunday night programs to see what other vagaries might ensue. While I’d like to congratulate everyone who walked away with an Oscar on Sunday evening (congrats Meryl Streep!), we should also acknowledge one noteworthy contributor to the show’s success that made their “speech” through a different channel…social media!

According to Bluefin Labs, the Hollywood, CA event generated some 3.8 million comments on Twitter, Facebook and other social media websites during its ABC broadcast (compared to last year’s 1 million). This statistic places the Academy Awards just above last year’s MTV Video Music Awards, which produced 3.1 million social media comments. The only award show having received more commentary through social media was this year’s telecast of the Grammy Awards, which had an astounding 13 million comments!

An estimated 57% of the Oscars’ comments were made by women, with the remaining 43% coming from men. Bluefin Labs further analyzed the results to determine that 22% were positive, 16% were negative, and 62% remained neutral.

 

High-traffic moments occurred somewhat predictably throughout the evening:

 

1. The most-talked about moment was the Best Picture announcement for the nearly silent film, “The Artist.”

Last year’s Best Picture: An English dude who couldn’t speak. This year’s: A French dude no one could hear.” – Andy Borowitz author/comedian

I am officially announcing that I am re-making THE ARTIST with sound.” – Alec Baldwin actor

 

2. The second peak of social media commentary took place when crowd-pleasing comedians, Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper presented three awards. Cooper’s mustache created a lot of buzz while fans encouraged The Academy to consider Fey as next year’s host.

Tina Fey should host next year.” – Kelly Oxford writer/famed tweeter

Bradley Cooper is just in from robbing a train. #Oscars” – Hulu online service for ad-sponsored video streaming

3.  Octavia Spencer’s emotional acceptance speech claimed the third most popular spot for social media discussion. Spencer’s comments additionally ranked highest in positivity ratings.

Congratulations to @OctaviaSpencer for her Oscar win! You truly deserve it! God bless!” – Kelly Rowland singer

Yes!!!! Welcome to the family Octavia !! Congrats!!! Amazing!!” – Jennifer Hudson singer/actress

Other unique moments during this year’s Oscars generated additional online discussions, and continues to prove how real-time social media platforms are changing the face of awards show commentary, as well as television watching in general. One such example was the somewhat controversial exposure of Angelina Jolie’s right leg. Viewers immediately shared opinions of Jolie’s wardrobe choice and, almost instantaneously, a Twitter account was created for “AngiesRightLeg.”  The Twitter account currently has close to 35,000 followers and about 30 tweets.

The above statistics and results only reinforce existing research in support of the effectiveness of social media. Clearly, with active individuals across such a broad spectrum, sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. can all assist in amplifying anything – whether that’s celebrity limbs or your brand. Celebrities who utilize social media for public relations’ benefits also have the opportunity to translate the increased popularity of their profiles and pages into potential business success. Advertisements cost $1.7 million per 30-second commercial, but given the popularity of the 2012 award show, it’s likely that this was money well spent.

Were you commenting on the Academy Awards via social media last Sunday?  What was your favorite part of the show?  Do you think social media is changing the face of television commentary? Tweet us @451Heat or share your comments below!

-Katie O’Brien, 451 Marketing Marketing Intern

@KGOBrien

Katie is a senior at Boston College majoring in Communication.

Thanks for the images:

1. www.gradley.net

2. www.laist.com

3. www.hollywoodreporter.com

4. www.blogcdn.com

5. www.cbswbbav.files.wordpress.com/

6. www.laist.com

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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.

Q & A with New Media Marketing Innovator & Restaurant Owner, Justin Levy

justin-lcp-gradsmFor part four in our series of “451 Heat 1-on1’s,” we spoke with the General Manager of New Media Marketing Labs, Justin Levy. Justin, based in Boston, helps businesses understand the potential of new media marketing, including how to use social media tools like blogs and community platforms to listen to clients and drive business revenue. He is the author of a forthcoming book, “Facebook Marketing: Designing Your Next Marketing Campaign,” and the Partner/General Manager of Caminito Argentinean Steakhouse.

To read more about Justin’s experience using social media to the benefit of his restaurant business, his new book, and his experiences working with Chris Brogan and New Media Marketing Labs, scroll on.

What first compelled you to engrain yourself in the world of new media marketing? Did you immediately recognize the potential that these tools could have for your restaurant business?

I have always used these tools as they continued to evolve. It first started out with forums, user groups, chat rooms, IRC and IM. Over the years it evolved into social networks such as MySpace and Facebook. Of course, the number of social networks have continued to grow and now there are a whole host of networks which make up the tools and core of new media marketing.

As it relates to the restaurant. I began experimenting with these tools because they were free and we needed to find ways to extend our brand. Our issue was never a quality of food or atmosphere inside of the restaurant. But, if no one is coming in and buying your stuff, then all of that other hard work doesn’t matter much. We began using new media marketing as a way to grow our brand, build community and leverage that community to spread the word about our restaurant.

Tell us about New Media Marketing Labs and what sort of brainstorming led to the creation of the popular events, Inbound Marketing Summit and Bootcamps?

New Marketing Labs is a social media agency that was founded by Chris Brogan. We opened at the beginning of 2009. At New Marketing Labs, our team works with medium and large businesses to help them use these tools to move needles that are important to them. We do this by helping them to develop a strategic plan with clear deliverables backed by a strong analytics dashboard. We do everything from strategic development to blogger outreach to manning listening and monitoring stations and a host of other activities related to using social tools to fulfill business needs.

Our Inbound Marketing Summit event is a 2 day conference that was formerly the New Marketing Summit. The New Marketing Summit has been around for approximately 3 years and was run by our parent company, CrossTech Media. When we started New Marketing Labs, we acquired the Inbound Marketing Summit from HubSpot and adopted the name. The Inbound Marketing Summit brings together some of the top thought leaders, marketers, brands, and agencies in the industry to discuss using these tools to take strategy and turn it into action. For 2009 we brought the Summit to 3 cities: San Francisco, Dallas and Boston on October 7th and 8th.

The Inbound Marketing Bootcamps are intensive one-day keyboard level training events. Topics typically include blogging, social networks, social media marketing, listening and monitoring, profile development, reputation management, and how all of this ties into business needs. By the end of 2009 we would’ve held Bootcamps in 5 cities as well as our private Bootcamps we do for brands.

You are currently in the midst of writing what should be a popular book, “Facebook Marketing: Designing Your Next Marketing Campaign.” Even social media savvy individuals and businesses seem to struggle at times to grasp how they should be using Facebook to connect and mobilize fans and prospects around their product or service. Will you address how Facebook should be utilized by B2B marketers to have a more effective reach and engage with potential buyers?

That is exactly the intention of the book. This book is being written for businesses and will, hopefully, provide them the concepts, strategy and tactical information needed to bring Facebook into the fold of their marketing plans. The book will provide a basic overview of features, deep dives into some of the tools that are important for businesses to understand, a review of some of those brands that are considered the “best in class” through their use of Facebook, and how to build a marketing plan that has Facebook as a main component of it.

Every social media marketer seems to have a slogan, or a concept, that they espouse when describing how best to use these tools for business (i.e. “listen to engage’, etc). What is your go-to?

While I have a lot of ways that I tend to explain how I believe these tools should be used by businesses, I tend to return to topics surrounding how these tools allow business to become humanized. Also, that we tend to want to do business with friends. By showing the human side of your business, it allows you to develop these personal relationships with your customers. In turn, they become fans of your business, product, or service and carry forward the message.

I also think that listening and monitoring is the most important thing that any business can do, especially when they’re just starting out. Conversations are taking place all around their brand, products, services, executives, competition and industry.  It’s up to them if they’re going to be part of that conversation.

What have you found to be the most useful social media tools for marketing your restaurant? Why do you think this is the case?

The most successful tools for our restaurant have been our listening and monitoring station, blog, video blog, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, and Flickr. Each of these tools allow us to have two-way conversations with our customers and fans. They also allow people to connect with us on a more personal level and get to see some of what goes on behind-the-scenes at a steakhouse. Tools like Yelp allow us a mechanism for feedback about what our customers like and don’t like.

What kinds of advice do you give to people who are just beginning to get involved with social media?

Start reading as much as possible. Subscribe to blogs that you find valuable and start following those people who you learn from on networks such as Twitter. Also, don’t think you need to start everything at once. You should lay back for a minute and observe everything that is going on and then set a plan on how you want to engage. If you don’t have a clear plan of how you intend to use these tools and what your measures of success are going to be, it will be hard to determine if you’re using the right tools in the proper manner.

Chris Brogan is obviously a very popular figure on the social media web. Can you tell us what the most important thing is that you’ve learned from Chris?

I’m constantly learning from Chris. I’m extremely fortunate to get to work every day with someone that I consider a mentor and a friend. Probably the single most important skill that I continue to learn from Chris is how to build community with trust at its core. In everything that Chris does, one of the reasons he’s able to be so successful is due to how hard he has worked to build and nurture his community. He gives everything he has to his community.
For more information about Justin Levy, visit his blog.

Marketing to a World with a Short Attention Span

Steve Rubel of Edelman Digital recently wrote an article for Fast Company reporting that people are spending a record amount of time on social networking sites: Twitter and Facebook, etc.

These sites are so attractive of course because they offer streams of brief information updates. Because these “pipelines” of brief status updates enable us to consume information quickly, many people are neglecting other news outlets. Traditional news websites present well-researched, quality information in well-thought-out formats, but, this sort of information takes longer to process than the quick snippets available on social networking sites.

People’s desire for ever-speedier information and communication is further evidenced by the demise of voice mail. Boston Globe correspondent Beth Teitell wrote an article about how people overwhelmingly prefer text messages to voice mail because they “can’t stand the endless prompts just to hear a longwinded – and often pointless – message.” With impatience for voice mail increasing, a market for services that transcribe your voice mails to text has erupted.

With the reach of online ads on mainstream news sites declining due to the decrease in website traffic, marketers are having to adjust their promotional strategies.

But, these streams of constantly updating information are posing quite a challenge to marketers. How can they break through these streams and reach their target audiences in real-time?

To make their messages stand out, some marketers are posting messages frequently, thereby increasing their visibility. However, these frequent status updates often come across as spamming (a big social media “no-no”). Other marketers are fairing better, by building a presence on all key social networks and integrating information across the different platforms. They’re using social media to build relationships with their current and prospective customers. They’re listening to them, engaging them in conversation, and making them feel as though they belong to their “brand tribe.” And, of course, they’re empowering them to be ambassadors of their brand.

It’s a point that we continue to hammer home, but it’s an important one. New communications outlets require new communication strategies.