A New Kind of Mile-High Club

On my flight home from vacation one year I ended up seated next to a newlywed who was heading home to his wife from a business trip. To celebrate his wedding the guy bought me and the woman next to us a glass of white wine and a snack pack.

Another time, I ended up seated in front of a guy who helped me get my bag in the overhead compartment. We ended up sharing a cab into the city. He was in town for a friend’s wedding and I had an 8-hour layover and was meeting a friend for a few hours. We ended up having breakfast with his friends before parting ways. That encounter led to a 2-second spot in his music video* – turns out he is a Grammy-nominated artist – and a pretty neat contact to have.

These chance meetings resulted in some great travel stories and in some instances even resulted in long-term friendships. But then there are the seat neighbors I was not so happy about. There was the guy who snored really loudly, the woman with the flu, the baby who cried non-stop…and yes, the smoker (long story).  It was during those flights that I wished the airline I was on offered an option to pick who I sat next to.

Enter Seating Programs. When I first heard of these programs I thought: Well that’s pretty neat. I would sometimes like to choose who I am sitting next to. Might as well network while you’re stuck in the air, right?

As this article explains it, Social Seating programs “let you see whether other…executives will be on the same plane or whether someone is flying to San Francisco to attend the same business meeting. Or, they allow you to just peruse passengers’ social-network profiles to find a potential soul mate.”

And then today, I came across Delta’s Innovation Class. This blows the other programs out of the water. According to its website, Delta’s Innovation Class is a “mentoring program at 35,000 ft.” It offers individuals the opportunity to apply through LinkedIn to present themselves to industry experts on a flight. Here’s a video that explains the program very clearly:

While the program is still in its infancy, it seems to me that it has already gotten off to a great start. It is a great way for people to meet potential investors or just connect with someone who can serve as a great resource for your business or start up. It gives many young innovators and entrepreneurs the opportunity to chat with someone that they otherwise wouldn’t ever get the chance to meet.

But looking beyond the perks it gives participants, the program gives Delta a leg up in brand awareness. And LinkedIn also gets some major kudos given that the program is powered through them. There have been articles and tweets and overall general buzz about this. Because that’s ultimately the goal — whether the bottom line for Delta or LinkedIn is to increase their customer base or increase their retention rate or something else, this program clearly plays a part in that. I am eager to learn more about this and see what comes of this. Maybe the next big idea in technology or science or art will come out of one of these meetings.

What are your thoughts on this? Are you a Delta customer or would you consider becoming one because of this? How about LinkedIn? Is your profile up-to-date?

*See if you can spot me in the music video here!

On Idiot Humans and Puppy Love

Who doesn’t like dogs? They give off a sense of warmth and happiness that makes you want to get on the floor with them and roll around and hug them and just feel loved. You can’t beat that unconditional love they are so eager to give. Unfortunately, in today’s society, there are many people who think that dogs feel no pain or have no emotions. Luckily, organizations like Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue help save dogs from, as they put it, idiot humans.

I learned about Badass Brooklyn when I came across this Facebook share by HONY today.

source: HONY Facebook

source: HONY Facebook

The post featured a picture of a dog, named Brandon Stanton, who was rescued by Badass. Now, for those of you who didn’t catch that: the dog is named Brandon Stanton – after the guy who started HONY. For those of you who are unfamiliar with HONY, here is a quick recap courtesy of Wikipedia:

“HONY, which stands for Humans of New York, is a photoblog that was started by photographer Brandon Stanton in 2010. The tumblr blog, which has since also become a bestselling  book, features portraits and interviews of people in New York City.”

As of today, HONY’s Facebook page has more than 2.3 million likes and countless more on other social sharing sites like Instagram. Yes, you read that right…2.3 million likes. That means that Brandon (the human) shared the Badass Brooklyn post on HONY to all of his blog’s followers. Which means that the chances of this adorable dog finding a loving home just increased exponentially. And not just for Brandon (the dog), but for all other dogs rescued by Badass Brooklyn.

Badass Brooklyn did a bad ass (pun intended) thing and named a dog after someone with millions of followers knowing that he would likely share it to all of his followers given the nature of his blog. For a non-profit like Badass, which relies on limited funding and donations, it was a brilliant move and something all companies big or small should consider when thinking about inexpensive ways to maximize their reach!

Advertising with a Social Cause

I was born in Colombia and lived there a few years before my family uprooted to the United States. The country has gone through many years of civil conflict and despite efforts from the government and other parties, there is still much unrest in the country. The purpose of this post is not to get into the politics of the matter, but rather to show how marketing and advertising can be used for more than just making money.

The other day, I came across this article in The Miami Herald. The article describes efforts by Colombia’s Ministry of Defense to try to get guerrilla members to defect. Since 2010, the Ministry has joined forces with Lowe-SSP3 ad agency in Colombia to launch holiday campaigns that target guerrillas through emotional and disruptive ads  — the purpose of the campaigns being to hopefully cause them to defect, or at least consider it. According to the article, when the campaign was first launched in 2010, commandos put Christmas trees deep in the heart of guerrilla territory, complete with lights and a message that read: “If Christmas can make it into the jungle, you can make it home.”

This year, the campaign used the love of mothers to reach out to them. Here is an excerpt from the article describing the efforts:

“Working with the mothers of recruits, the firm has blown up baby photos of rebel fighters and emblazoned them with the message: “Before you were a guerrilla you were my child — This Christmas I’ll wait for you at home.”

Those posters are being plastered on village walls and hung in the jungle. At the same time, the campaign includes television spots and a web page, www.eresmihijo.com, featuring real mothers.”

You don’t have to be from Colombia to realize how amazing these campaigns are. They go beyond your everyday advertising of products and reach out to individuals at a human level. Check out this campaign video:

In case you don’t speak Spanish the video is available with English subtitles on the agency’s website: http://www.lowe-ssp3.com/our-work/madres/

I am curious to see the effect of these videos on the number of defects for the year. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure they play a role for many in their decision to defect.

Do you know of any other campaigns that focus on social causes like this? Which ones are your favorites?

Social Media For the Win

I recently ran into a snag with a reservation on American Airlines. I had booked a flight and put it on hold for the free 24-hour hold but when I went to purchase the ticket, I was told that my reservation had been cancelled because another ticket had already been reserved in my name.

After venting about it to my coworker, we decided to try and get the issue resolved via twitter. Within minutes of our tweet, one of my coworker’s followers had re-tweeted it and American Airlines had responded to both of them asking that I send them a direct message. So I did. And my problem was fixed. And I was happy.

You see, what American Airlines did was use social media as a real-time customer service portal. It saved me time and they saved face on a matter that could have gotten ugly. It took all of five minutes to get the issue sorted and I thanked them via direct message and directly to their twitter account. It was a win-win-win scenario. I got my problem fixed (win). They had a happy customer (win) and they got their happy customer to tweet about it in a positive light (win again).

found here

Social media, when used correctly, can really drive business and help with the bottom line. This (semi)recent Forbes article explains it pretty clearly. Social media is everyone’s job at a company. Yes, you may have one person dedicated to getting content out on social media, but the strategy and content creation needs to go hand in hand with a company’s overall marketing strategy. You can’t rely on one person to do it all.

You may recall that American Airlines recently did a full overhaul of their brand. And it seems that social media was clearly a large part of the strategy. And a good part. They use social media (not just twitter) as a forum for interacting directly with consumers – sometimes they post quizzes and fun facts and sometimes (like in my case) they offer customer service stewardship. This didn’t happen haphazardly. This happened because the marketing team made sure to include that as part of their overhaul. And so far it seems to be working – not just because of what happened with me; take a look at their online presence for yourself.

What are your thoughts on social media and its role in the marketing mix? Do you have any stories to share about your experiences with a company and its social media interactions?

Foxy Advertising

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Seth Godin about the next viral music video. The video was posted to YouTube on September 3, 2013. As of today, the video has received more than 46 million views and quickly rising.

So what is this video that so many people have watched? Well, it’s a music video by a Norwegian comedy duo about the sounds different animals make with a focus on what the fox “says”. That is pretty much the video in a nutshell. But you really have to watch it to fully understand the viral-ness of it. Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

Most people stop there. They take the video at face value, maybe share it with their friends, get a good laugh, and move on. Like a virus, these kinds of videos spread until they don’t. But companies could stand to gain from some of these videos if they are smart about it.

Case in point: This commercial from the television network Fox (also below).

Fox took the song and used it to advertise their Fall show lineup. I’ve seen this from other companies as well. AIG used a viral home video posted to YouTube to make this commercial for their retirement services a few years back. While some companies (i.e. Dove) create their own videos which then go viral, not all companies have the same success.

Which is why I think what Fox and AIG (and other companies) did was creative. They took a video that was already liked by the public and then used it for their own advertising. What these companies (and their advertising agencies) clearly understood was that the online community was loving a specific video and so they rode that “viral” wave to their benefit. While this can backfire sometimes, I think the concept is smart. And in the case of Fox, it couldn’t have worked out better…I mean, could they get any more literal?

Original Content

I went on a week-long vacation last month. My main goal was to get away, enjoy the outdoors, spend time with my boyfriend and generally “disconnect” from the real world. My days were spent outdoors attempting to be “one with nature” but, that idea of disconnecting didn’t happen as well as I’d hoped. While I did manage to keep my everyday life at bay (i.e. work, school, routine), I managed to somehow discover a new show on Netflix called “Orange is the New Black.” I spent evenings back at the hotel watching all 13 episodes of the first season.

I had heard about “Orange is the New Black” from a few friends and had read about it online. But I didn’t quite get what all the hype was about. And then I watched it. And now I am hooked.

But this post isn’t about the show. It’s about the bigger idea here. It’s about innovation.

Prior to watching the show, I had thought of Netflix simply as a streaming service that provided previously aired tv content and movies at my convenience. While that alone is a novel idea, it just didn’t draw me in much. I mean…Blockbuster was cool, but their lack of innovation led to their demise. And after the Netflix snafu a few years back, my perception of the company wasn’t exactly pristine.

Fast forward to my vacation, and I am now officially a Netflix subscriber. What took me so long, right? But really, “What took Netflix so long!?”

I subscribed to Netflix because now I have a show to look forward to. One that isn’t offered anywhere else. It has an amazing storyline and most importantly: it is original content. This isn’t the company’s first foray into original content; recently they also aired a U.S. version of House of Cards. And that target audience ate it up.

Why does this matter, you ask?

Well, Netflix just blew past its competitors (namely, Hulu) and has begun competing with the likes of HBO. This Forbes article sums it up pretty well. While Netflix will continue to provide various titles (albeit curated) for its subscribers, it now offers something for that other group (like me) who doesn’t necessarily see an added benefit to paying for shows that don’t interest them much. By focusing on innovation and making their way into original content, they have grown their consumer base and really proven that a company can cater to a variety of customer segments. They got me, didn’t they?

What are your thoughts on the Netflix strategy? Do you see any areas for improvement?

Digital Marketing 101

When I first started this blog, I was determined to make something of it. But I was unsure about where I wanted it to go. Thanks to my digital marketing class this past semester, I have had the chance to share my thoughts on topics relating to what I work on and what I am studying. As our last assignment this semester, we were asked to list the top five key points that would help a person who is not so well-versed in digital marketing. While there are many intricacies to digital marketing, the following five points provide a good big picture.

1. Know your audience. Knowing who your audience is and what they like helps guide the direction of your digital marketing plan or campaign. Ask yourself who is buying your? Why are they buying it? What websites do they frequent? The more insights you can get, the better picture you can paint of your consumer.

2. Have a strategy. Just like you would with traditional marketing, you need to have a strategy. You can just start using social media willy-nilly or advertising all over the internet. Know what the plan is and use it as the guiding force for your campaign or overall digital branding endeavor.

3. Set goals. Measure. Think about what you are looking to get out of your digital marketing strategy. Do you want to increase overall brand awareness or number of shares for a specific campaign? In marketing, we call these key performance indicators (KPIs). Having these in mind, you can measure your progress and identify areas for improvement, which can lead to better planning for future goals.

4. Make it relevant. This goes back to knowing your audience. Don’t talk about things that wouldn’t interest your audience. Also, don’t start a conversation or advertise about a topic if it doesn’t somehow tie back to your product or service.

5. Social media and digital marketing are not synonymous. This is where people get thrown off. Yes, social media is a part of digital marketing, but digital marketing is not just knowing how to use social media. Digital marketing includes online advertising  (i.e. Adwords and AdSense), website optimization, and email marketing among others. Use the array of tools available to you and don’t just think you’re covered with social media.

What are some key takeaways you recommend? Is there anything you have come across that works or doesn’t work for you?