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Matt Rainone

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Notes from the EDGE

On Tuesday, we attended the annual Ad Club EDGE Conference at Royale. Per usual, it was an awesome showcase of some great 40 mg levitra thinking, inspirational speakers, and a taste of things to come for the next 12 months in marketing innovation, and technology. And it was by far the classiest collection of folks that have ever stepped foot inside the old Roxy at the same time. The day started off with a quick application demonstration from DJ Patil (@dpatil) and Andre Charoo (@acharoo) of @color. Color was the official app of EDGE, and though it's still not out for Android (I felt slightly left out), it was very cool to see all of the photos come together from the event as the day progressed. If you don't know Color yet, check it (and the $41million they raised a few months back) out here:  http://www.color.com/press. After the Color demonstration, the day was split into 3 sessions, STORY TELLING, TOOLS, and GAMES. Since it was a long day, and people love sound bites, I'll be brief with the recap and give you just that. STORY TELLING Every brand has a story, and being able to clearly articulate your brand story is paramount when trying to get consumers interested in it. One of the best stories of the day was from Johnny Earle from Johnny Cupcakes. He went from hustling candy bars in school to hustling t-shirts at worldwide locations simply by living by the mantra: reinvent yourself constantly, take risks, don't sell out. Boom, sound bite. Up next, Deb Roy from Bluefin Labs scared the pants off of privacy advocates everywhere when he showcased their latest project which maps and links conversations going on throughout the social space to various media channels. I couldn't do their technology justice, but you have to check it out here: http://bluefinlabs.com/. When discussing Timberland's brand story, Jim Davey opined: 'Brands are becoming more and more like media companies and the best stories win.'? Just  think about the opportunity that YouTube alone offers brands who want to disseminate content. Social media and the internet as a whole offers brands the opportunity to take marketing content from a traditional ad and build upon it through multiple media sources quickly and cheaply. Though it wasn't necessarily a marketing story, Sean Carasso, from Falling Whistles told us all a remarkably inspirational story of resilience and hope. Check their story out here: http://www.fallingwhistles.com/main/. TOOLS The Tools session focused on both tool developers and brands who are using existing technology to create improved brand interactions. Companies like Smarterer (way cool, check it out: http://smarterer.com/), and Locately (http://www.locately.com/) are developing solutions while brands like Harley Davidson, The Boston Globe, and Boston's own Taranta Restaurant are using current technology in new ways to improve their consumer's brand experience. To see what they're doing, check these out: Harley Davidson: http://www.harley-davidson.com/en_US/Content/Pages/HOG/HOG.html Taranta Restaurant: http://www.marketinglagniappe.com/blog/2011/05/15/qr-codes-utilized-by-taranta-as-a-marketing-lagniappe/ The Boston Globe: sorry no visuals for those not in attendance, but those who were did receive a sneak preview of the new BostonGlobe.com (this could be big) GAMES It wasn't all fun and games during the games section of the conference. It was also educational and thought provoking. Amy Jo Kim (@amyjokim) from Shufflebrain led off the session with some sound advice, 'don't automatically think of badges and points, think of user experience.'? And when exploring game development, she encouraged the audience to map out the desires of consumers based on the social engagement axis ' is the desired behavior tied to expression, exploration, competition or collaboration? Map that out, and then start game design. Additionally, brands like Zipcar and Perkstreet Financial shared how they've applied gaming mechanics to their business to drive consumer engagement and sales. At Zipcar, gaming is a core part of their experiential marketing efforts, while Perkstreet is redefining how the financial industry offers rewards (and that's saying a lot since the financial industry wrote the book on loyalty programs and rewards points). We're excited to apply all of the learnings from this year's EDGE conference and are already looking ahead to next year. What do you think will be on the Edge in 2012?

Red Cross Continues to Excel at Disaster Relief

It wasn't a flood, but it could have led to a flood of bad publicity. Not an earthquake, but you could feel the rumble of email complaints coming in. It wasn't a tornado'?¦oh, enough with the disaster puns? Okay. On Tuesday, one of The Red Cross's social media managers accidentally posted a tweet that referenced #gettngslizzerd (that's 'drunk'? to all of you non Far East Movement fans) with Dogfish Head (that's a type of beer to all you Bud Light Drinkers ' me included). Though it was supposed to be to his personal account, a small error using Hootsuite instead posted it under the Twitter handle of the 130 year old humanitarian organization. Yikes. This was about to be something featured on the top stories on Yahoo.com as a 'social media disaster'?. Come on, you can see that headline. Something that would have used more bad disaster puns than the first few sentences in this post and ended with 'see what was said'? as the hyperlink. It would have also been a chance for an established entity to release the type of press release that would make your freshman journalism professor smile, and anyone outside of C Suites and PR Circles cringe. Instead, The Red Cross took the role as 'humanitarian organization'? to heart ' especially the 'human'? part. Here's their response: http://redcrosschat.org/2011/02/16/twitter-faux-pas/ If this was some weird 80's movie/social media conference hybrid thing, The Red Cross would have just burst into the prom, the music would have stopped, and all of the social media 'gurus'?, 'ninjas'?, 'geeks'?, 'motorheads'?, 'jocks'? 'basketcases'? and 'princesses'? would have slow clapped. It was quick, efficient, said what it needed to say, and ended up getting a ton of great press and even donations http://www.dogfish.com/community/news/press-releases/gettngslizzered-for-a-good-cause.htm Let's get another slow clap going. This is something that social has allowed companies to do. Say 'yea, we screwed up, but we're humans, we're not a bunch of suits hiding behind press releases'?. Don't get me wrong, press releases are still necessary in the business world, but there's just something about the 'apology'? releases that are sometimes worse than the actual thing they're apologizing for. That said, I am officially drafting up a release to apologize for the disaster puns at the beginning of this post. Hopefully it will be more cringe worthy than my terrible attempts at humor.

5 Reasons Why People Love Lists

'10 Reasons Your Social Media Strategy Needs a Facelift'?, '5 Ways To Ensure You Get Retweeted'?, ' The Top 7 Ways To Integrate Mobile Into Your Marketing Plan'?. We see them every day. Your Twitter feed is probably chock full of them. And the fact that we're merely weeks away from the New Year means that the normal thousands of Top 10's and Top 5 lists are now joined by another thousand 2010 Year End lists. Lists are everywhere, and for good reason. Namely, PEOPLE LOVE LISTS! So in an effort to be ironic, here's a top 5 list of reasons why people love lists. Who wants to read a full article? Lists are really handy at turning what would normally be a multi-paragraph article into smaller, easily digestible, easily quotable facts. And those are fun for everyone involved. They always get retweeted. Really nothing more to say here. It's true, lists get retweeted all the time which is just further proof that PEOPLE LOVE LISTS! But mostly they get retweeted because'?¦ It's a catchy headline. If you've ever seen a top 10 list on how to get your tweets retweeted or your blog read, the number one thing on there is typically 'Make Awesome Headlines'?. And what's more awesome than the promise that by reading only a short number of things you will become successful at something? That reminds me'?¦ The promise that by reading only a short number of things you will become successful at something. It's funny that there are EXACTLY 10 things you can do to be better at Twitter, be a better blogger, be a more savvy marketer, AND be a better boss. It's sort of reminiscent of this great quote by Jerry Seinfeld that goes something like 'It's amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.'? Let's get one thing straight; there are no 10 silver bullets on any topic that are the definitive answer to success. In fact, there may only be 4, or 6, or maybe there's 37, but those just aren't as eye-catching as 10. Actually, scratch that, 37 would be pretty eye-catching. Chances are that if there is a list of 10, at least 4 of them are stretches anyway to get to a nice round number. In fact, I could probably just end with this one, but I'm going to stretch to make it to 5 because'?¦ We're lazy. It's true. And I know it's true because this one is really saying the same thing that the first bullet did, and though I just made fun of stretching lists to get to a round number, I do have to admit that 5 reasons just sounds much better than 4.

5 Reasons Why People Love Lists

'10 Reasons Your Social Media Strategy Needs a Facelift'?, '5 Ways To Ensure You Get Retweeted'?, ' The Top 7 Ways To Integrate Mobile Into Your Marketing Plan'?. We see them every day. Your Twitter feed is probably chock full of them. And the fact that we're merely weeks away from the New Year means that the normal thousands of Top 10's and Top 5 lists are now joined by another thousand 2010 Year End lists. Lists are everywhere, and for good reason. Namely, PEOPLE LOVE LISTS! So in an effort to be ironic, here's a top 5 list of reasons why people love lists. Who wants to read a full article? Lists are really handy at turning what would normally be a multi-paragraph article into smaller, easily digestible, easily quotable facts. And those are fun for everyone involved. They always get retweeted. Really nothing more to say here. It's true, lists get retweeted all the time which is just further proof that PEOPLE LOVE LISTS! But mostly they get retweeted because'?¦ It's a catchy headline. If you've ever seen a top 10 list on how to get your tweets retweeted or your blog read, the number one thing on there is typically 'Make Awesome Headlines'?. And what's more awesome than the promise that by reading only a short number of things you will become successful at something? That reminds me'?¦ The promise that by reading only a short number of things you will become successful at something. It's funny that there are EXACTLY 10 things you can do to be better at Twitter, be a better blogger, be a more savvy marketer, AND be a better boss. It's sort of reminiscent of this great quote by Jerry Seinfeld that goes something like 'It's amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.'? Let's get one thing straight; there are no 10 silver bullets on any topic that are the definitive answer to success. In fact, there may only be 4, or 6, or maybe there's 37, but those just aren't as eye-catching as 10. Actually, scratch that, 37 would be pretty eye-catching. Chances are that if there is a list of 10, at least 4 of them are stretches anyway to get to a nice round number. In fact, I could probably just end with this one, but I'm going to stretch to make it to 5 because'?¦ We're lazy. It's true. And I know it's true because this one is really saying the same thing that the first bullet did, and though I just made fun of stretching lists to get to a round number, I do have to admit that 5 reasons just sounds much better than 4.

I Have a Meme

Back in April, a few of us attended the quasi-yearly celebration of all-things internet known as ROFLcon. Picture what would happen if everything funny or weird you ever saw or heard about on the internet decided to show up at one place and talk about everything funny or weird you ever saw or heard about on the internet; that's ROFLcon. And while this isn't meant to be a summary of ROFLcon - because that would be dated and lame - it is meant to be a preface to the world of memes. Internet memes can be videos, images, websites, stories, or just plain old jokes. They're ideas that are spread around the internet. The idea of memes has been in existence long before the internet. Religious beliefs are essentially memes in that they're spreading cultural ideas or practices. So while memes don't have to be on the internet - the 'Where's the beef'? lady was a meme long before Al Gore even invented the web - they have certainly found their place on it. So how do you make one? Well, this may not lead to internet gold, but here are 5 ways to help you on your journey. Step 1: First off, don't call it viral until it's viral'?¦ and even then, don't call it viral Nothing is more off-putting than someone asking you to create, or telling someone that you're planning to make a viral video. I once saw a vendor presentation that said one of their capabilities was viral videos. Really? Let's be straight here, YOU do not create a viral video. The thousands of people watching, commenting and sharing the video do. That's more of a pet peeve than a key to success. Okay, here we go; the 4 keys to creating an internet meme. Step 1: Be funny, absurd, or shocking'?¦and if you can't, include an old person, baby, or cute animal I don't have the stats here, but out of the millions of non-adult videos, and photos on the internet, let's assume that 1% are popular enough to reach 'meme'? status. Can we agree that a large portion of those are overwhelmingly funny, absurd, shocking, have an old person, baby or cute animal? Let's. Step 2: Don't try too hard'?¦in fact, don't really try at all Most of the stories you hear about internet memes start with 'I was just making something for my friends'?. Most memes don't intend to be memes, they just sort of happen. This is where many brands and agencies fall short. They try too hard to be cool and different, or try too hard to make money. If you lose that organic and genuine feel, you lose the impact. Step 3: Encourage participation One of my favorite memes, Archaic Rap, mostly reached meme status because it's really fun to create them on your own. People love showing other people how funny/creative/knowledgeable about hip-hop lyrics they are, and this one gives them a chance to. The idea of in-jokes and obscure pop culture references are perfect cultivators for memes because people like to show others that they 'get'? them. Step 4: Get it to the influencers Video's up on YouTube? Done! Not so much. Successful branded content usually has a PR or social push behind it to get it into the right influencer hands to ensure it spreads. Unbranded user content usually has a similar approach, though it's usually unplanned. Send it to the right people, and it will spread. You'll be surprised how big Aunt Milly's online network is when babies or cute animals are involved. So that's it. I think we can expect the percentage of good content on the internet to explode after people read this post. In the event you're now inspired to create your own meme, I suggest you visit the folks over at KnowYourMeme.com who have done a great job cataloguing and studying memes from around the internet. It will be a good starting point to get into the psyche of the internet to determine if you have the ability to create the next great meme.

Connecting the Dots: Foursquare and Location Based Social Media

On Monday, a few of us from AMP attended a great Ad Club event with Dennis Crowley (@dens), co-founder of the location based social networking website Foursquare at the NERD Center in Cambridge. I've known about Foursquare for a while, but it was a great opportunity to hear directly from one of the creators not only how it started, but where it's going. With growth rates rivaling Twitter, the 1 million user mark close at hand and a potential $100 million buyout from Yahoo, Foursquare is about to get even more attention in the coming months. Here are some really interesting things we picked up at the event. What's the deal with Foursquare? If you don't know, Foursquare is a service that allows you to 'check-in'? at just about everywhere you go ' work, shops, bars, and even public transportation. Every time you check in, you get points, and have the opportunity to unlock badges ' everything from Newbie for first timers to Mayor for the person that checks in the most. Foursquare was initially built to share your location with people you know and want to meet up with. Crowley mentioned he had always been intrigued by dots on maps, and one day asked 'why can't the dots be people?'? While Facebook and Twitter are places for thousands of friends, Foursquare lets you stay connected to those closest to you. Since its launch, Foursquare has grown into a larger platform that now allows you to simultaneously gather reviews/recommendations from a larger peer community. Like most social media services, what was originally built as a means of keeping up with friends, is now turning into a service many brands are now trying to leverage to reach their most loyal consumers. Isn't everyone doing location based features now? While Twitter, Facebook and others have location as a feature, the biggest point of differentiation with Foursquare is the competitive nature of it. Crowley mentioned that with Foursquare it's all about 'the screen you see after check-in'?. Twitter and Facebook allow you to say where you are, but won't show you who else is there. The gaming aspect of Foursquare ' the badges, the points ' is what keeps people active on the service. Where is this technology going? Right now, you collect badges and points for every interaction you have. At the moment, they're strictly for bragging rights. In the future there might be some additional functionality where you can use badges and points to cash in for rewards. Additionally, there's the whole idea of web 3.0 that involves anticipation and building technology to tell me and others not only where I am, but where I'm going or should go. How can brands get into the mix? At the very least, every check-in is a mini ad for that location. It's basically telling your friends, I care enough about this place to let you know I'm there. That's word of mouth advertising in its simplest form. Crowley did stress that Foursquare is not planning on 'making badges to make badges'? for brands. In order for brands to successfully integrate with Foursquare, there needs to be some sort of actual application for users ' just check out what MTV and Bravo are doing to connect regular folks with their reality 'stars'?. They want advertisers/brands to add value to the platform not just use it to advertise. In the near future, there will be additional research and data gathering opportunities as well. Eventually, participating brands will be able to access a dashboard that shows them who, when, and how often people are checking in. This could lead to some great consumer insights with cross-cut data. If we know that consumers who check-in at your business are also over indexing somewhere else, there will be opportunities to understand where else to reach consumers and how to cross-promote.

Numbers Game

This week, superstar LeBron James filed official NBA paperwork to change his number from 23 to 6. LeBron says that he wants to change his number out of respect to MJ ' the most famous #23. The cynic in me has to wonder if it's a tribute to Michael Jordan the player, or Michael Jordan the businessman and product endorser of Nike, McDonalds, Gatorade, Hanes, and upwards of a dozen others. If LeBron was such a basketball purist and really wanted to lay tribute to one of the game's greatest players, why would he choose 6? It might not have the iconography of 23, but it happens to be the number of some other slightly above average players by the name of Russell and Erving. Hmmm, makes you wonder if this decision was born out of Cleveland, OH or Portland, OR. So why is this move such a big deal? Well, in the sports world it could mean everything from LeBron sticking around in Cleveland (if he was planning on leaving this summer, why go through the trouble?), to him just getting used to the idea of playing with #6 because he'll need to change it when he goes to Chicago next year (bold prediction). Regardless of what his decision is, this may be just as big of a story in the sports marketing and branding world. Okay fine, LeBron's 2010 fate is sort of a bigger deal, but let's examine what something as simple as a number change can do. CHANGES IN BRANDING LeBron has a logo. Most logos don't change very often, and when they do it's usually not as a result of one guy deciding he wants to wear something different to work. In the case of King James, the logo that appears on all of his clothing, and even Ohio State's basketball uniforms prominently displays the number 23 weaved inside his initials. So at the very least, someone at Nike is going to need to redesign that logo, all of the current apparel with the old logo displayed are going to end up in a similar place as the Patriots 19-0 Super Bowl t-shirts (single tear followed by multiple tears), and Nike is going to re-launch a new line of apparel. NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR MERCHANDISING #23 and #6 aside, LeBron is #2. Huh? In terms of jersey sales, Cleveland's #23 is still only the second most popular jersey behind Kobe's #24 (for the second year in a row). LeBron appears to be adopting a similar strategy as Kobe when he switched from #8, a move that propelled him to the top of the jersey sales list. A true NBA 'fan'? wouldn't be caught dead in an outdated jersey, and I believe there's a 10 year grace period before something can be considered 'throwback'?. New jerseys equal new purchases. CREATION OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES Like most moves in the sports world, this one will lead to a list of conspiracy theories that speculate on ulterior motives, like: The 'going to Chicago'? thing. Not very likely. The 'stay in Cleveland'? thing. Somewhat more-likely. LeBron really said that he wanted to go to New Jersey next year, and Cleveland is just pretending they misheard him until this blows over. Not likely, but hopeful for Nets fans. The real reason is exactly what LeBron says. Least likely of them all.

Holy Cow, Facebook Bans Milk! Sorta...

According to Facebook's new regulations, you are no longer allowed to conduct a promotion whose purpose is to 'promote any of the following product categories: gambling, tobacco, dairy, firearms, prescription drugs, or gasoline'?. Wait, dairy? As in milk and cheese? Dairy is treated in the same context as gambling, firearms and tobacco? This REALLY brings a new meaning to lactose intolerance. As it turns out, this really isn't that far off from rules that many states already employ with regards to sweepstakes. Many state laws prohibit companies from offering dairy as prize according to this Chicago Tribune article, on the same topic. This is also included in Facebook's regulations. So what are our friends in the dairy industry to do? It seems for now, that they should just wait. It appears that Facebook will soon be updating the regulations to remove dairy from the naughty list. Which is great because it will give AMP just enough time to launch our new Cheese Wheel Promotional Capabilities in early 2010.

We're green, we're cost conscious, and we're social. What's Next?

There's been an interesting change in the marketplace over the past 4-5 few years that has basically happened out of a mixture of necessity and coincidence and has yielded some long-lasting outcomes. I remember interviewing a potential intern candidate about 2 ½ years ago and we began talking about how every company out there is 'going green'?. The skeptic in me pointed out that it was all too easy to want to save the environment when gas was $4.10 per gallon. I predicted that, in time as energy costs began to go back to normal, the whole green movement might lose some steam, yet the idea of environmental stewardship would remain as a 'must have'? for every company because it became engrained with everyone during that time. Which I suppose is what happened. Gas prices dropped, and being environmentally responsible was no longer a market differentiator, but an expectation. But just as gas prices dropped, the stock market imploded and people started losing their jobs. The green movement could have lost steam, but luckily for the earth, reducing our impact on the environment is directly connected to reducing the impact on our wallet; the 'use less, spend less'? ideology. Simply put, the recession acted as an enforcer of green practices. It also, and very obviously, made everyone extremely cost conscious. In addition to corporate expense accounts getting slashed, marketing budgets also took a hit. Marketers asked agencies to produce similar results with sometimes a fraction of the money, which caused us all to rethink the most effective and cost-efficient ways to do things. Something that, like green practices, will become an expectation from here on out. With reduced marketing budgets, the most logical way to get your message out there is with unpaid media. The emergence of social media in the marketing mix couldn't have come around at a better time. Although, imagining George Washington tweeting 'RT: @BennyFranklin In a room w/ 60 dudes '?¦ Hancock needs a shower'? might have been amazing as well. We've all now seen that being able to have a conversation with your consumers at practically no cost has become invaluable. Once again, it's something that is going to become a must have for any brand out there. So that's where we are now. We've learned to be more environmentally friendly, do more with less, and create killer digital strategies that include social media. But what's next? What's the next big trend? All signs point to the next big thing showing up somewhere in the social media space, whether it's a new technology, or simply an update to an old one. What new trends have you heard about that could change the face of marketing?

The Dunk that Never Happened: How Nike (and LeBron) Should Rebound (pun very much intended)

I'm sure you've all heard about it by now. This past week, The King was dethroned. No, I'm not talking about the King of Pop. I'm talking about Lebron, 'King James'?. This past Monday during a pickup game at the LeBron James Skills Academy, he was dunked on by Jordan. The worst part is that the Jordan to which I'm referring was not MJ, the original #23. LeBron was posterized by Jordan Crawford, a sophomore from Xavier. If you're not keen on the lingo, let's put it this way; whilst Mr. Crawford flew through the air to slam the ball through the rim, an unfortunate Mr. James got in the way. Physics, by way of Sir Isaac Newton's laws of motion, tells us that once an object is put into motion, it will not stop until another object exerts force upon it. According to reports, LeBron James, though King of the hardwood, could not prevail over the laws of physics. You may notice that I said 'according to reports'? and there lies the very reason for this post. There is no video of the occurrence. Blasphemy! What is this, the dark ages? There's a video of EVERYTHING that's happened since 2004. There's probably a video of me reading this blog post! Well, let me rephrase my last statement; there was a video, two in fact. However, after a brief chat with the King, they were both confiscated by Nike Basketball Senior Director Lynn Merritt. Since the event, the blogging, marketing and sports world have been abuzz. Fraud! Evil Nike Conglomerate! they cry. It would appear that instead of letting the video of an act that probably happens 3-4 times in a normal NBA game make the usual 2-3 week journey through the internet before we all got bored of it, Nike chose to do PR tactic number one; sweep it under the rug. Now they've created something far worse ' the PR cover-up nightmare. Much to no one's surprise, in the days of blogs, microblogs, and nanoblogs (I may have made the last one up, but I'm sure Apple's working on it as we speak), chances are it's going to come back to bite you. See Airlines, United. So, what to do? Well, I'm going out on a limb here and am HOPING that both Nike and LeBron have enough marketing and brand savvy (after all, LeBron IS a brand) to turn this current nightmare into a dream opportunity. Maybe they can use that video to their advantage, it already has more buzz surrounding it than most celebrity sex tapes. Maybe Nike was just borrowing the video to convert it to HD, make LeBron's teeth look a little whiter as Jordan Crawford was flying past them, and are going to release it on YouTube next week. Maybe they'll even add cool sound or video effects like a starburst when Crawford throws down. Eh, maybe not. Here's what I would do if I were Nike. LeBron's your poster boy, he's arguably the best, or at least will be. But he's young. He's made it to the Conference Finals, the Championship, only to come up short. He's still got work to do, he needs to get better. There's your off-season campaign. Show the dunk, show it twice, slow motion, the whole deal. Show a grainy close-up of LeBron's face after it happens, the shame. Then cut to LeBron training, lifting weights, shooting free throws, hell, show him puking his guts out after running 50 full-court wind sprints. Show that he's still a kid, still human, and still can get better. Excite us about that, Nike ' he's great, but he's still has the opportunity to get better. That's enough to give you chills.

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