Were Your Holidays A Little Different?

Were your holidays a little different this past year?  No, I’m not referring to the horrific and tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown or closer to home, the West Webster Fire Department ambush.  Although I did think of the victims’ families and my heart still aches for what they’ve had to endure.

I noticed something different this past year and I’m wondering if it was just my family or if you experienced it too.  This was the first year we didn’t receive a “year in review” newsletter with one of our holiday cards.

I believe it’s due to the proliferation of Facebook.  Most people are on Facebook (over 1 billion people worldwide) and are likely connected to the majority of the people on their holiday card list.  As long as you share content on a somewhat regular basis, most people have a pretty good idea of your significant events and milestones from the past year.

Family Newsletter 2012

The other thing I noticed was a lack of Lexus commercials this year.  It’s been a staple of television advertising for the past several holiday seasons.  Perhaps I simply wasn’t watching the right networks at the right time.  But I did see plenty of automobile ads, just not for Lexus.  Perhaps they read my blog post from last year and had second thoughts about investing in that campaign once again?  Then again, probably not.  😉

How were your holidays?  Did you notice anything different?

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Happy Thanksgiving from Arthur Catalanello Consulting

I’d like to wish my friends and family, as well as readers of my blog and their families, a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.

Enjoy this special day (one of my favorites of the year!) and I’ll be back next week with a regular post.

Source: Marketing Profs

Natural Disasters and Marketing

Companies need to tread lightly when it comes to marketing around a natural disaster.  With Superstorm Sandy, 100+ people died worldwide and damage estimates are at $20 Billion and growing.  That doesn’t make for a great marketing opportunity in most instances, but it can, if done correctly.

American Apparel caused a Twitter firestorm when they offered a Hurricane Sandy Sale.  As if that wasn’t tasteless enough, their headline read “In case you’re bored during the storm.”  Seriously.  The company was slammed on social media with outrage and rightly so, in my humble opinion.

Closer to (my) home, and with much less publicity, a local winery committed a similar marketing faux pas.  Glenora Wine Cellars offered customers a Hurricane Sandy Sale.

While not as egregious, I still thought it was in very poor taste (especially the picture).  I made my opinion known on their Facebook page, commenting on their post about the promotion.  Within hours, their post (along with my comment) was removed.  Their website still offered the promotion, and I called them out on Twitter for it.

Within hours, their web page promotion was removed too.  What couldn’t be removed were the emails the winery sent out to their list.

So what’s a “good” way to market around a natural disaster?  How about showing some compassion?  How about figuring out how to help the victims through a donation of time, talent, product or service?  Duracell brought charging stations to Lower Manhattan so that those without power could charge their cell phones.  They’re helping victims of Hurricane Sandy and garnering positive publicity and public relations in the process.

It’s such a simple concept when you compare the positive example to the negative ones, isn’t it?  Yet so many companies get it wrong.  One would hope that marketers would learn from these mistakes.  Sadly, history will likely repeat itself and some company will damage their image and reputation by running a tasteless promotion during the next natural disaster.  Hopefully, they have a public relations department or company at their disposal.  Even better would be to employ some common sense.

Want to help the victims?  Below are links to various organizations assisting in the relief efforts (list not to be considered an endorsement):

Red Cross

Salvation Army

New York Blood Center

Feeding America

AmeriCares

World Vision

Save The Children

Before you donate in a time of crisis, make sure you do your homework on the charitable organization.  Here are some tips by Charity Navigator.

A Social Media Storm

Many watched the progress of Hurricane Sandy and reports of the devastation it caused.  Nicknamed “The Perfect Storm” and “Frakenstorm,” the images of destruction were shocking.  I hope you and your family survived the event safely and with minimal damage.  I’m very thankful that my family did, including those directly in the path.

This isn’t the first major storm where social media played an important role in reporting the news.  However, I did find it interesting that so many media outlets encouraged viewers/readers to engage them via social media to get current news.  Rather than wait for the next news cycle, which could be hours away, people were encouraged to follow on Twitter, friend on Facebook, pin to Pinterest, download weather apps, etc., etc.  It makes me wonder how many new followers/friends/app users these media outlets gained as a result of this natural disaster.

While social media is a great resource for current news as it unfolds, you do need to be cautious of what’s posted in terms of accuracy.  I had several friends share pictures to social media that were allegedly taken during the storm.  Virtually all turned out to be a hoax – either doctored using Photoshop or taken from a disaster movie.

With smart phones becoming the dominant type of cell phone and tablets increasing in usage, people could stay connected with friends, family and media – even if their home lost power.  In America, we’ve come a long way from candles and transistor radios.  Several friends who lost power could still post messages to Facebook letting friends and family know their situation.

Having grown up in New Jersey, I have several friends and family in that area who were significantly impacted.  My thoughts and prayers are with them and I hope their recovery is quick and smooth.

How did you use social media during Hurricane Sandy?

Social Media Days of the Week

In social media, it seems as if every day of the week is devoted to something.  Marketers will use any excuse they can to get their message in front of you.  There’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, National Vanilla Ice Cream Day, Wear Red Day, etc., etc.  This can be both good and bad, depending on your perspective of marketing.

In social media, there are certain “events” that occur on a weekly basis.  Perhaps the most well-known is “Follow Friday” on Twitter (#FollowFriday or #FF in twitter-speak).  This is a way for Twitter users to make a recommendation that their followers should follow certain individuals.  Sometimes it’s for a specific reason (industry, location, interest) and sometimes there’s no apparent reason for the recommendation.

A few years ago, Hire Friday (#HireFriday or #HF) became a variation of Follow Friday.  Job seekers were encouraged to tweet about their job search including location, industry, a keyword or two, a link to a professional profile, and of course include the hashtag.  Those on Twitter, especially recruiters and HR professionals, were encouraged to re-tweet these messages to give job seekers added exposure.  The power of Hire Friday (and Twitter) is real, as I experienced an increase of resume views of 4x-5x compared to other days in the week when I was looking for employment.

I recently read a blog post from CAREEREALISM where they’re trying to encourage “Endorse Monday.”  They’re asking LinkedIn users to take 10 minutes each Monday and endorse people within their network.  This is a great way to be active on LinkedIn and it’s a perfect example of practicing a “give to get” networking philosophy.

Unlike Twitter, where the previously mentioned #hashtags in your stream will serve as a weekly reminder each Friday, I think LinkedIn will need to aggressively promote “Endorse Monday” until this becomes ingrained.  Endorse Monday may not have been LinkedIn’s idea originally, but they’re obviously in favor of it since they referenced it in a Facebook post recently.

As someone who embraces and practices “give to get” networking, I truly hope Endorse Monday takes off!  What other special days do you participate in using social media each week?

Social Media Days of the Week

Happy 1st Birthday!

First Birthday of Arthur Catalanello Consulting's Blog

October 3, 2011 was when I officially launched my blog.  Today is the one year anniversary of that first post, so I’d like to mark the occasion with some cake!  Actually, I’d like to devote this post to sharing a few statistics and thanking those who have helped and inspired me over the past year.

As of this writing, my site has received over 7,800 visits in the past year.  My most popular post has been 6 Ways To A More Contact-Friendly LinkedIn Profile (Part 1).  My post on The Lost Art of the Thank You has generated the most comments to date (so, thank you!).  I’m still on a quest to have the country visits map completely filled in.  I’ve had readers from 86 different countries visit my site at least once since February 2012 (when this metric became available).

When I first launched my consultancy business, several people recommended that I blog as a way to demonstrate my expertise.  I’d like to sincerely thank Greg Taylor, Chris Bigelow, Dorothy Johnson, Bill Griffin, Kelly Mullaney, Luis Martinez, Rob Ewanow, Fred Kopp, Ed Ritter and Deb Mourey for their advice and encouragement to start blogging.  I’m sure there are others who provided similar sage advice who I’m inadvertently leaving out (my apologies to you if I did).

I’d like to thank those who have subscribed to my blog.  There are literally millions of blogs out there, so the fact that you find mine worthy to subscribe to is both flattering and inspirational to me.  I’d also like to thank those who have shared my posts along the way via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and via email.  Thank you to those who have taken the time to comment on one or more of my posts.

Last but not least . . . I’d like to thank my wife, who is my confidant, cheerleader and proofreader when it comes to my blog.  I regularly run ideas and draft posts past her for feedback.  Her suggestions for improvements and corrections are always spot-on.  Without her support and help, my blog would be half of what it is.

Thank you all for a great first year of blogging!  I look forward to year two and hope you’ll continue to join me each week!

Filtering Facebook

If you’re active on Facebook and have friends like I do, you’re encountering plenty of “soapboxers” who believe their political commentary and posts will somehow magically persuade you to vote for their presidential candidate in less than two months.  On a personal note, I can’t wait until I can once again enjoy pictures of cats, pictures of kids and postcards with snarky quotes without having to navigate articles that are obviously and blatantly biased for one side of the aisle or the other.  😉

If you feel that way too, the good news is you don’t have to wait until after the election is over!  Here are two areas in Facebook where you can filter what you see.

The first is to filter the ads in the right-hand column/panel.  If you hover over the ad, a small “x” will appear to the right.  If you click on the ad, it will remove it and you’ll have the opportunity to provide Facebook with information on why you chose to remove it.  In theory, Facebook will learn your likes/dislikes to show you advertising you’re interested in.  Since Facebook is a free site, advertising is one of the ways it makes money, so the ads are not going away.  You might as well see ads that are interesting.

A second is to limit the content by specific friends.  To do this, go to your friend’s timeline or find a recent post of theirs in your feed.  Hover over their picture and then hover over the “friends” button.  Then click on settings.  From there, you can control the frequency of updates (all updates, most updates, only important updates) as well as the type of updates you see (life events, status updates, photos, games, comments and likes, music and videos, other activity).

As with most social media sites, there’s often more than one way to change settings, so it’s not limited to the method I’ve detailed above.  The Facebook filter is not an ideal one, but it’s better than nothing.  When you’re ready to un-filter that soapboxing friend, the steps are the same.

I can say that once I filtered some friends, Facebook became more enjoyable.  Have you filtered content or friends yet?

Authenticity in Social Media

I intentionally try to avoid traditionally controversial subjects in my blog such as politics and religion to name a few.  I have other things I’d rather write about and want to keep my blog on more of a professional level than personal level.  I’d also rather not add fuel to the fire of a rumor.  So, it’s with some hesitation that I write this post.

I read an article on The Hill about Mitt Romney’s Twitter account that I thought was rather interesting.  Presidential candidates seemingly have everything scrutinized with a magnifying glass these days.  Someone noticed that Romney’s account, which had been averaging 3,000-4,000 new followers daily had suddenly picked up almost 100,000 followers in a two-day period.  And, this increase occurred without any significant change in his engagement with followers.  Immediately the speculation was that his campaign was buying Twitter followers.

This certainly is not very newsworthy, especially since it’s speculation at this point.  But fact or fiction, it is a great example of the importance that authenticity plays in social media.  In a previous post that still generates weekly views, I offered 3 reasons why quality is more important than quantity when it comes to social media.

The number one reason I listed in that post is that when fans/followers can be bought, your authenticity comes into question.  Whether it’s a politician or a consumer brand, most people won’t tolerate a fake.  Engagement cannot happen with fans/followers who do not have a true interest, let alone may not exist in the first place.

Don’t just take my word for it.  A recent research study from About.com demonstrated that activity (i.e., engagement) on a Facebook page was a better indicator of trust than the number of “likes” a page had.  In fact, 84% said that being trustworthy is a requirement before interacting with a page or info source.

Again, fact or fiction, here’s a current reminder why quality is more important than quantity when it comes to social media.  What are your thoughts when it comes to authenticity in social media?

The Twitter-LinkedIn Breakup

I took the week of July 4th off for a family vacation, so my apologies for this post on week-old news.  In late June, I received the following email from LinkedIn:

LinkedIn's Letter on Sharing with Twitter

What does this mean?  Basically, you can no longer have a post that originates on Twitter automatically be shared to your LinkedIn account (Twitter’s decision).  But, you can continue to originate a post on LinkedIn and have it shared to your Twitter feed (LinkedIn’s decision).

A big part of effective social media is about sharing content, so strike one against Twitter.  LinkedIn’s note to its users is a great PR move, especially when it suggests you originate your message on LinkedIn.  Strike two against Twitter.  Twitter recently updated their Facebook app, allowing users to post their tweets to Facebook.  So Twitter gets a third strike for being hypocritical and inconsistent with their policy.

Are they “out?”  Not so fast.  My initial reaction to Twitter’s decision was somewhat positive because it will force people to be more strategic with their social media usage.  In my very first post, I gave three reasons why you should not auto-synchronize your postings across your social media accounts.  Social media postings should be more strategic, taking into account the audience you’re interacting with and the different etiquette and style of the social media platform.  Unfortunately, many auto-synchronize out of laziness, poor planning and/or a lack of marketing fundamentals.

Be sure to check out your network updates, if you’re on LinkedIn and haven’t checked it since July 1st.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that the quality of the postings are better.  Your network updates should be less cluttered with postings that were appropriate for Twitter but less-so for LinkedIn.

What are your thoughts on Twitter’s policy change?  Is this a strikeout or a home-run for social media users?

Biannual Apps Audit

Can you believe the year is half-over already?  Now is as good a time as any to review the social media apps you’ve granted permission to and see if you still want/need them accessing your data.  I’m sure some of you reading this post won’t even know what the previous sentence refers to.  So, let’s start from the beginning.

As you interact in social media, certain applications request permission to access your account in order for the interaction to occur.  One quick example of a good time to revoke an application permission could be when you enter a contest on Facebook and the contest has ended.   Another example could be an application that allows you to share content to your twitter account, or one that even analyzes social media stats.

Changing the access permissions of social media applications in Facebook and Twitter is easy to do.  In fact, it’s just 3 quick steps for each!

On Facebook, here’s where you can find the applications you’ve granted access to and how to discontinue their access should you desire.  There are actually two ways to get there, but this is one of them:

1)  In the upper right corner of your Facebook toolbar, click on the downward arrow and select Account Settings:

2)  Select “Apps” in the left-hand toolbar, which will bring up a list of apps you’ve granted access to:

3)  For each app you want to check/change, select the “Edit” link in the far right column of the list.  It will open a gray-shaded sub-menu that will allow you to remove the app or alter the privacy settings of the app:

On Twitter, here’s where you can find the applications you’ve granted access to and how to discontinue their access should you desire.

1)  Click on the person icon toward the right in the upper toolbar and select “Settings:”

2)  Select “Apps” in the left-hand toolbar:

3)  A list of applications will appear, with a description and the date you granted the app access to your Twitter account.  If you’d like to remove the app, click the “Revoke Access” button:

I try to make a habit of reviewing my settings twice a year.  Like tending to a garden, it’s easier to stay on top of things if you weed more frequently.  This time around my “Social Media Audit Scorecard” was 5 Facebook apps and 7 Twitter apps that I revoked access to.

As privacy continues to be a big concern for many using social media, it’s important to monitor apps’ access your information.  So how many apps did you change permissions for or delete entirely?