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Campaigning With Interactive Social Media Platforms


Social media allows companies to create interactive, in-the-moment and fun campaigns. Companies are engaging their audience and provoking continued dialogue, while also tying these campaigns back to their products. These companies are raising the bar for what consumers can expect from social media campaigns. Companies are utilizing user-generated interactive games, contests, and promotional events to serve consumers, as well as benefit the company. A contest is no longer just “complete a form” to enter, and even billboards are no longer just wall-based stationary advertisements. Instead, companies are spanning multi-platforms and multi-means to get their message across.

Jell-O creatively designed a campaign that connected Twitter with consumer personal sentiment and relied on a specific hashtag as a vital component to their campaign. The concept of “Pudding Face” was established with the call-to-action, “Get Your Pudding Face On.” A billboard located near Times Square, which was called the “Mood Meter” and had a man’s face with a changing smile or frown, was set up to connect to Twitter sentiments in real-time. Whenever the mood turned too sad (meaning the percentage of frown tweets were higher than smiles), Jell-O gave away free pudding coupons to tweeters using #PuddingFace. Consumers felt more connected to the Jell-O brand when Jell-O replied to sad tweeters and gave them free pudding to change their frown to a smile.

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Other companies use the hashtag to promote a business campaign or idea. For example, American Express started a campaign to drive shoppers to small businesses called “Small Business Saturday.” AMEX partnered with Facebook to give the first 10,000 small businesses that registered $100 each in Facebook advertising. The campaign used #SmallBizSaturday on Twitter to remind consumers to shop at local small businesses. Google, Twitter, and FedEx are now among the big businesses that support “Small Business Saturday” and the campaign has acquired over 2.8 million Facebook “Likes” thus far.

Recently launched “Live for Now” global Pepsi campaign utilizes the hashtag, while also calls for consumer action via Twitter. Pepsi, in partnership with Viacom Media Networks, promotes the NOW factor across music and pop culture platforms. Emphasizing the present moment, consumers are encouraged to tweet images with #mtvnow, #countrynow, #playnow, #comedynow to be entered for a chance to win prizes all summer long. Selected consumer tweets are also featured across Viacom’s channels and on their websites. Twitter also will share the campaign and the NOW factor through pop-up concerts and free music downloads based on the trending artists of the week.

Other companies are using innovative strategies that include interactive gaming techniques that engage a captive audience. For example, McDonalds in Sweden used social media to create a game called “Pong” that was constructed on a large-screen billboard. Just by using a smartphone and geo-location information (no app required), one’s phone could be directly connected to the billboard game. After 30 seconds of successful playing, players win a free coupon for a McDonalds food item of choice. Consumers were then asked to redeem their prize at the nearest McDonalds location. This strategy not only marketed the company, but also brought consumers directly into the restaurant to collect a prize. A simple strategy, free food and a fun game can always be a method to bring in a crowd.

MTV has taken the concept of an interactive game even further. They have recently launched a “Teen Wolf” fan-based game/social experience called “The Hunt.” Fans of the series can log into their Facebook accounts and become a member of the show’s high school and participate in activities with characters from the show. With the line of reality and fiction blurred, this innovative social media strategy is very impressive. Like McDonalds’ “Pong” game, a follow-up strategy is implemented to encourage consumers to keep coming back for more (whether it be to redeem a prize or a personalized email reminding one to continue playing the game). “The Hunt” will be one to keep an eye on to see if other companies will mimic and if it becomes a success.

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Whether it is the use of the hashtag or interactive gaming techniques, social media campaigns are becoming more inventive than ever before. Large companies like Pepsi and American Express are catching on, but small businesses can be successful as well. Multi-platform campaigns that use widespread social media tools, such as Twitter and Facebook, can benefit both the consumer and the company: social media at its finest.

What’s your favorite interactive social media campaign? Let us know in the comments!

- Danielle Genet, @daniellegenet

Twitter Chats: The Power of a #Hashtag


Welcome to the next level of Twitter communication, where you and other interested professionals and non-professionals alike can talk about anything to anyone, from any location in the world, at any time. I’m talking about Twitter chats, a platform for open discussion using a hashtag as the key to entry.

(Screenshot of the #socialchat Twitter chat using Tweetdeck. #Socialchat happens every Monday at 9pm EST, and covers topics surround social media marketing)

Twitter Chat


What is a Twitter chat? 

Twitter chat is a chance for you to communicate with any of the 140+ million other Tweeters out there about anything under the sun. Someone (anyone!) sets a time, a topic and a hashtag for all users to incorporate in their 140 characters. The set hashtag and phrase is what gets a user into the chat (e.g.,  #Renegaderocks, the tag for a chat about Renegade enthusiasts). One of the many benefits of a Twitter chat is that because of the character limit, participants are forced to make their messages short, sweet, and to-the-point. No novel-length opinions allowed!


What are they used for?

Twitter chats can be about literally anything, and start in several different ways. One common form is a scheduled chat. For example, Mashable has provided 15 essential Twitter chats for Social Media Marketers that happen weekly. Additionally, Twitter chats often form at live panels, where a moderator will announce the appropriate hashtag, and attendees can tweet opinions about the selected topic, or pose questions for the panelists. Some of the most popular Twitter chats erupt from TV shows like The Voice, an example that we blogged about just last month. Before, during and after each show, thousands of people (including Christina Aguilera, a judge on The Voice) incorporated #TheVoice into their tweets, creating a trending topic that eventually became a 24-hour chat. 


What can it do for you?

Twitter chats can be useful for both consumers and brands. Participating in chats can aid consumers in forming opinions, voicing thoughts and finding out what others have to say. Brands can also benefit in several ways. First and foremost, these chats provide free and honest feedback from the public. Just a few years ago, companies were paying for a voice from their consumers with surveys and oftentimes their results were biased for several reasons like lack of blinding and measuring the wrong target audience. The public nature of a Twitter chat also builds a brand’s social media presence. With strategically worded hashtags your brand can gain visibility from hundreds, thousands and even millions of Tweeters. Finally, by analyzing the demographics and psychographics of Twitter chat participants, brands can easily get a better understanding of their existing and target communities. Take into consideration brands like Toyota, a company that practices good online presence by hosting several Twitter chats, ranging from discussion with their designers to advocating their philanthropy. By casually interacting with the public about the company, Toyota was able to make themselves open and accessible to Toyota lovers and potential customers alike.


Tips for a successful chat: 

Twitter chats can be constructive and beneficial, but there are several ways that the chats can go south. Take these next few tips into consideration to make sure your first chat goes smoothly: 

  1. Use Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or some other type of social media management program with a live stream to track the hashtag. The original Twitter UI is fine, but not ideal for chats, especially huge ones where tweets stream in faster than you can click the Refresh button!
  2. Don’t worry if you can’t keep up with the conversation. Again, some chats have tweets coming in every other second, so just keep your eyes peeled for what’s relevant or interesting, and feel free to re-tweet the best ones. Retweeting is a way to moderate the chat and may spark more conversation about that particular topic.
  3. Recognize the community: People of all ages and personalities are getting active on social media, and they communicate in different ways. Depending on the audience of the chat (e.g., a chat about Justin Bieber vs. a chat about business culture), you may have to adapt your voice for that particular chat.


Now that you’re more informed about Twitter chats and all of its glory, I leave you with the ultimate Twitter Chat Google Doc. Peruse the 600+ topics (any chat about food is a personal favorite) and start engaging with people who share your unique interests.

Let us know about your Twitter chat experiences! We’d love to hear the rants and raves of your time in the Twittersphere. 

- Jaime Cheng, @Rochambeaux

Dandy Doodles


Think back to the days when you used to actually write on paper. I’m talking about school papers, journal entries, and letters to your pen pals. Okay, are you back there, before the days where everything started as a Word document, a blog post, or an e-mail?  Just how often did your paper wind up looking like this?

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I know, in my life at least, doodling has overtaken many a sheet of paper as I search for an idea... or admittedly just procrastinate. Therefore, it should be no surprise that this blog post starts with the modern-day equivalent.

How often do you find yourself staring at the Google homepage poised for greatness, if only the right inspiration would come? There I was just a few days ago. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button was particularly grating my nerves, as I was feeling quite the opposite. So I clicked. With that single click of the mouse (okay, tap of the touchpad) I opened the treasure box that is the Google doodles archives. 

Most of us are familiar with Google doodles, even if we don’t know they have a specific name. A doodle is the way Google modifies their logo to celebrate a special date or person. This practice started back in 1998. Google explains it best:

“In 1998, before the company was even incorporated, the concept of the doodle was born when Google founders Larry and Sergey played with the corporate logo to indicate their attendance at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. They placed a stick figure drawing behind the 2nd "o" in the word Google, and the revised logo was intended as a comical message to Google users that the founders were "out of office." While the first doodle was relatively simple, the idea of decorating the company logo to celebrate notable events was born.”

Picture 1 

Google has come a long way since the days of the Burning Man doodle. Gone are the days where it looks, well, like an actual doodle, as we are now living in the world of HTML5, JavaScript, and Flash.

Some doodles are more memorable than others. Some are reminisced about long after their 24 hour featured life-span, while others fade into oblivion. Some doodles made a big cultural impact. There are many doodles you may have never seen, because some are specific to a country other than your own. Personally, I wonder what the Google doodle will evolve into next, but for now, one thing is for sure… everyone has a favorite. Without further ado, here are my top 5:


5) 30th Anniversary of PAC-MAN

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In my experience, this is by far the most talked-about Google doodle. In fact, Google keeps a playable version here. According to Mashable, the PAC-MAN doodle consumed 4.8 million hours of time, which was broken down to cost $120,483,800 in productivity. Truthfully, I don’t want to admit to how many hours I contributed to that total, but I am happy to say I didn’t factor into the monetary productivity hit, since I was still a student.


4) Scientists Unveil Fossil of Darwinius Masillae

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Find a kindergartener and ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You are likely to hear answers such as “doctor”, “teacher”, and “police officer.” I was the strange five-year-old that replied, “paleontologist,” and often had to explain to the questioning adult what that word even meant. (For those of you who don’t know, a child-like explanation is a person who digs up dinosaur bones.) For many of my younger years, I put a lot of effort into learning about dinosaurs and trying to become an actual paleontologist. Although I have since set aside this goal, paleontology still sparks a glimmer in my eye.


 3) First Day of Spring 2009 - Design by Eric Carle

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I am very thankful that a love of reading was instilled in me during my impressionable childhood years. I don’t know exactly who to thank, but I’m sure my bookishness can be attributed to my family and first grade teacher. Anyway, one of my favorite books was Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I loved the format, and style of the book. This doodle conjures up fond memories of an easier time. As an aside, I recently bought a finger puppet version of this book as the “perfect” first birthday present for my friend’s son. Terrified doesn’t even begin to describe how he felt about the caterpillar puppet. Needless to say, I don’t think this will be on his list of favorite doodles when he’s older.



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This one might only make the list because it’s fresh on my mind. That being said, there is no denying the impact this doodle had. Users who clicked on this doodle were directed to a petition to tell congress not to censor the web, and over 7 million people signed it. I probably particularly like this censored Google image because I love books such as Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World and 1984 in which the government CONTROLS and CENSORS. And while I enjoy works of fiction dealing with these themes, I have no desire to live in a world of censorship.


1) Alexander Calder's 113th Birthday

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I’m an artsy person (notice I didn’t say artist!) and if forced to choose, I would pick Alexander Calder as my favorite artist. I’ve written a couple of reports on him as a matter of fact. I love whimsical, I love bright colors, and I LOVE 3D design. What makes this doodle really noteworthy is the fact that it was Google’s first doodle made entirely with HTML5, so it was the first doodle that really did something. I happily recall my excitement that day as I made the doodle mobile bob serenely. So, the fact that this commemorates my favorite artist, coupled with the game-changing nature for Google doodles, makes this the number one doodle in my book.

Have you been inspired to create a doodle? While there is already a team of illustrators and engineers (called doodlers!) in place at Google specifically for this purpose, Google accepts submissions for future doodles at Also, they run an annual contest, Doodle 4 Google, with the winning doodle being featured on the homepage. Unfortunately, I certainly stand no chance of winning a Doodle 4 Google contest in the modern era of doodle animation, so instead I’ll continue to enjoy the doodles of others in times of procrastination need.

What are your favorite Google doodles? Did you know you can buy customized items with your favorite Google doodle?

-- Allison Rossi

The Corporate Cure


Free People's playful blog

The business section of Sunday’s Washington Post speculated that corporate curation is becoming a popular marketing campaign for many brands. The article, which had appeared on newspaper’s website six days prior, asserted that companies (particularly fashion and luxury brands) are assembling their own collection of Internet snippets.  These “advertorials” combine the affable voice of web editorials with the appeal of stylish ad campaigns.

The Post sited Louis Vuitton’s Nowness and the Harley Davidson Ridebook as two buzz-worthy examples of corporate curation.  Here are a few other brands that are dabbling in advertorials and unorthodox content development.   

What do you think of these editorial/advertising hybrids?  If brands are open about the information they’re curating, can they become key influencers?  Please leave comments below.

Free People – The whimsical design and joie de vivre photos echo the spirit of fun fashion bloggers— both stylish and accessible.

Cleanest Line – Patagonia’s blog reads like an adventurist’s journal with a bit of environmental activism sprinkled in the mix.

The IKEA Blog – With quirky comics, product demonstrations and even clips of “Futurama,” the furniture superstore curates creative and eclectic content.

Open Forum – American Express eschews the typical self-promotion of other credit card companies by including timely business news stories and tips.

Secret Life of a Benefit Gal – While this makeup brand spotlights its products, the down-to-earth demonstrators and nifty tricks are reader-friendly.

Nicole Duncan

The (new) Final Frontier

For the space lovers, history buffs and event junkies who do not have tickets to Cape Canaveral for the  final shuttle launch, rest assured.  NASA will stream live footage on its website while the popular media site Spacevidcast will up the ante with an interactive component that allows users to ask the astronauts and engineers questions via Skype and Facebook.  Viewers without access to the live footage can utilize Twitter by following the Atlantis crew or one of the 150 Twitterers chosen by NASA to watch from the VIP box.

Although U.S. officials maintain that space-faring expeditions will continue, for many the retirement of the four remaining shuttles marks the end of the Space Age.  Thirty years ago when the first shuttle launched, the communications channels were a vastly different landscape.  Telephones were restricted to businesses and residences; people sent messages through snail mail; and encyclopedias were the best vehicles on the information superhighway.  Now the products of the one revolution will shepherd out its predecessor— a simple reminder of the dynamic (and often unexpected) nature of progress.

As you watch this historic event from a live stream on your 3G smartphone, consider how much has changed since 1981, and think of the possibilities that have yet to come.

Nicole Duncan

The Buzz About Google+




Google has finally entered a serious contender into the social sphere with its launch of Google+, the new project that turns the established search giant into one, collective social network. Known as “Google’s answer to Facebook,” the program introduces some new and improved ways to share and connect with people. Here are some of the coolest:

The Circles+ feature is a new approach to the well-known friend lists.  Unlike Facebook or Twitter lists, Circles+ allow users to make several different friend groups for sharing different content. Now, close friends, family, and professional connections can be organized as such. Plus, the company has added a little fun with animation accompanying the creation of a circle.

Sparks is a new content feature. Users can choose certain topics like fashion, health, or entertainment and the engine recommends interesting and relevant content based on the information from other Google products like Google Search. The idea is simple- make it easy for people to explore their interests and allow them to share it with their friends. Sound familiar to Twitter?

Hangouts are a new way to group chat. Instead of inviting one person to chat, a user can just start a  “hangout” and let other friends join. The best part is that the chat screen shows whoever is currently talking, so although you could be in a group with 10 people you will only see one person at a time.

Google+ has been in the works for over a year, and the final product is well designed and innovative. The company has already dominated the search field, but until now has never made an impact on the social sphere. Is Google+ serious competition for Facebook and Twitter? We’ll find out.


-Laura Burns

Where is the love?

When it comes to social-networking behemoth Facebook, you don’t have to look far to find the love.  Users write sugary messages like, “miss you xoxo,” on friends’ walls; they compliment pictures; and they hit the “like” button as if it’s click competition.  Research has shown that such positive interaction produces oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” in users, meaning the feelings are real, even if the platform is virtual.

But what about other community-sourced sites?  Are they oozing with affection and adulation?  Not necessarily.

On Wednesday, Wikipedia will launch WikiLove to encourage more positive interactions among editors.  The initiative, which has been in beta testing, allows contributors to post friendly comments along with images of barn-stars, beers or kittens to the editor’s discussion page.  The 10-year-old online encyclopedia found that editors who had received negative feedback were 69 percent less likely to continue contributing.  Conversely, users were 78 percent more likely to increase their load after being praised.

The WikiLove initiative will include a small heart as a way to offer positive feedback to various editors.  This feature hearkens back to blogging platform, Tumblr, which also utilizes a heart button.  Founder David Karp designed Tumblr to foster an appreciative environment by allowing for re-posts rather than comments, which can veer toward sarcasm and criticism.  Additionally, Twitter encourages friendly decorum through retweets, @ mentions and recommendations like #FF (Follow Fridays).

Given these successes, Wikipedia seems poised to join the be-friendly-feel-good league.  However, it is possible that the little red heart button will go largely ignored.  After all, Wikipedia is no Facebook.
Nicole Duncan

Chatroulette gets no love from Apple, too much from everyone else

  Well, we’ve done it. Chatroulette was officially banned by Apple today from the app store for “too much user generated content that is pornographic.” Or so says Business Insider. I can’t actually read the newly released App Store Review Guidelines, or anything else for developers because you need a special password, which is only provided after Apple approves your developer status. Transparency fail.

UPDATE: “Apps that contain user generated content that is frequently pornographic (ex “Chat Roulette” apps) will be rejected” (Section 18.1 Pornography in App Store Review Guidelines) Thank you Mobile Crunch.

Chatroulette has just undergone an overhaul from their previous format, one that supposedly is a more PG version of their once X rated experience. Compared this winter to Twitter and Facebook as the next big social media property, Chatroulette is facing some serious questions after today’s announcement, can it come back from this recent overhaul and banning? The number of users has been steadily decreasing, the percentage of X-rated content increasing. I guess it will depend on how much users mind being mooned by strangers, or how much that is part of the thrill of the unknown-  either way I’m guessing we’ll be seeing a lot more of Chatroulette, and each other, very soon.

Bespoke Analytics for Custom Communication



Social media strategy and metrics are difficult pure and simple. Much of the time, a brand’s social media presence is initiated as an afterthought, an add-on to the brand’s overall marketing strategy. Traditional marketing strategies are more often than not, too shallow for social media because broadcast voices are impersonal and closed. Staking a claim on the social web and then tossing out brand messages from that platform does not make for effective social media marketing.

To create a truly relevant presence through social media, brands need to find out where their target is living online, who is leading them (you always gotta find those popular kids/social influencers/trust agents/what have you), and then figure out how to engage these influencers. This cannot be done without doing LOTS of initial research and continuing to develop post launch ad to custom tailor our communication in real time, in accordance with both the insights we gather while “live” and the data patterns we notice over time.

Last night Marshall Sponder, a SEO and web analytics expert, spoke at the 140 Characters Conference MeetUp in NYC about using real time analytics for real time communication. Marshall referred to a high number of missed opportunities he’s seen for brands that have ignored real time data and that have neglected to continually analyze and customize their methods for gathering and interpreting the data. Additionally, Marshall honed in on, well, honing in, stating that to truly understand how their real time engagement works, brands must TAKE….. THEIR….. TIME…… and customize. Marshall reminded everyone that even though trustworthy real time communication is (seemingly) off-the-cuff, over time and the patterns we record when pulling regular data will point to distinctive insights about how to optimize our engagement methods.

Marshall discusses this in detail (with a focus on geo-location tools) and with a case study on his blog.

Jump to Brian Solis’s recent post about Behaviorgraphics. Brian describes a long list of types of communication styles and he also argues for enhanced engagement with and customization of our data.

“Genuine engagement is inspired by the research and data we accumulate as we analyze the social web and the specific activity and people who define our markets and audiences. We are now required to tailor our stories and distribute them specifically in the channels that cater to the technographics and socialgraphics of our customers. In order to truly earn relevance and prominence within our communities, we also need to connect information and objects dictated by the personality traits of those influencers who in turn activate and move markets.”
Read the rest of his post here.

That said, we need to spend more time listening to our consumers as we develop (and redevelop) our social media strategies and stop treating the concept like an afterthought. The more data we gather and the more time we spend analyzing data from this sphere of communication, the better our brands will engage with it and the more effective our communications will become.

Join Bode!

Bodeposter1_2   For those of you (like me) who love to ski and/or love to watch skiing check out the microsite Nike launched featuring Bode Miller.  The site, Join Bode!, features interviews (with send-to-a-friend options), an interactive landscape (allegedly the home of Bode), and information on the World Champion Skier and Olympian.  I love the design, and Nike did an excellent job of representing the renegade skier without coming across as cliche.
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