social media

Crowdsourcing and “The IKEA Effect”

by Sean Wood on April 19, 2012 · 0 comments

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What is it about crowdsourcing (ideas, products, etc) in social media that makes people want to get involved and offer their input?  One of the best recent examples was the Doritos “Crash the SuperBowl” Contest.  Fans were asked to submit a 30-second video, with the prize being a $1 million if their idea hit number one on the Facebook / USA Today AdMeter.

Brands that sponsor crowdsourcing contests open themselves to receiving valuable input from their fans.  ”First of all it’s a lot cheaper, and secondly you get a lot more diversity of ideas, so those are the big advantages, and the speed – you get hundreds of ideas in a matter of four or five days” says John Winsor, author of Spark: Be more Innovative through Co-Creation. ”Great ideas come from the edges.”

Why Crowdsourcing Works – The “IKEA Effect”

People increase their belief in the value of the product when they’ve had a hand in creating it. When you buy something from IKEA, you gotta put it together yourself.  Because people are actively involved in the creation, they have the tendency to value things they made themselves more than something made by another person… even an expert. This phenomenon helps explain the psychological connection that people make with crowdsourcing contests. There is an emotional value wrapped up in the building process that instills a desire to see that a positive outcome is achieved.

Creating a social media-enabled crowdsource contest should be approached with the hand of an artist. Understanding the nuances of human dynamics require that the experience should be neither too easy or too hard. It’s the classic “Goldilocks Paradigm” where the best solution must fall somewhere between being “difficult-enough-but-not-too-difficult.”

“When instant cake mixes were introduced in the 1950s as part of a broader trend to simplify the life of the American housewife by minimizing manual labor, housewives were initially resistant: the mixes made cooking too easy, making their labor and skill seem undervalued. As a result, manufacturers changed the recipe to require adding an egg; while there are likely several reasons why this change led to greater subsequent adoption, infusing the task with labor appeared to be a crucial ingredient.”  – Norton, Mochon and Ariely[1]  The Journal of Consumer Psychology

How to create a successful social media crowdsource program:

  1. Create the System - Set boundaries that will lead an audience down an enjoyable path towards a positive final goal. Start with what gets people interested in the output. Ask yourself, “What incentives drive behavior towards the goal?” With American Idol, you call in and vote so you have to tune in the next time to see who wins the competition with anticipation, hoping that your vote counts toward the outcome.
  2. Selection Process – Whether the winner is chosen strictly by crowd votes or in conjunction with a panel of judges, make sure the process is clear and transparent.  Shine a spotlight on each step of the process so that the audience has the opportunity to build an emotional connection in anticipation of the outcome.  Everyone wants their “team” or their idea to win which helps capture the audience’s attention and feedback along the way during each step.
  3. Reward- A successful campaign should end with an attentive audience that has been actively engaged throughout the process from start to finish. Highlight the winner among the brand community and encourage the celebration of their victory. Make sure that you prepare post-contest plans to maintain the audience’s attention and keep the momentum going for the next event.

As a wrap-up to any extensive social media program, the organizing sponsors should take ample time to review what worked and what lessons were learned so that they can make adjustments for future programs.


No More Clearcutting!

by Sean Wood on March 11, 2012 · 0 comments

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Reaching people in social networks is like finding trees in a forest. Social ecosystems have natural-forming patterns; both in diversity and similarities. Modern messaging requires smart strategy and an understanding of the technology available. The cool part about all this “social media stuff’ is that you can track your success, measure your efforts, learn along the way and quantify your results. Rinse and Repeat.

Mass Communications Clearcutting

In forestry, there are several ways to harvest the trees you need — the clearcutting method and the selection cutting process. Mass media broadcasting taught us to clearcut a wide audience with hopes that a small percentage will be influenced to action.

This method remained in the early days of online marketing.  In the 2000s, the slash-and-burn method was used to clear-cut across the internet. Massive email “blasts” and banner advertisements were measured by CPMs impressions. Email lists are now sold by the millions for little to nothing because they lost value. Banner ads have also become ineffective after the modern web audience learned to just ignore them.

Talk to any web marketer around in the late-90′s / early-2000′s and they will usually shake their head and make some jokes as they recount how fast mistakes were made. The legacy of the Dot-Com era is filled with stories about explosive growth and devastating results. No longer is the ultimate measure of online marketing about the number of eyeballs you can count.  Even when you dig deeper into what social media can accomplish, you’ll find success goes beyond the number of “likes”or how many followers you have. The real question is “What is the engagement level of your brand within the community?” and “how do those conversations convert to business results?

Selectively Harvesting Your Audience

Selection harvesting chooses specific trees so that the integrity of the forest remains intact and the remaining trees are saved for future harvests. With social media, marketers have the information available to identify specifically which people they’re looking for — rather than wiping out an entire audience by blasting messages to them. Content marketing engages the right audience and builds strong communities around your brand.  Sustainable strategy for communications in the 21st century learns from the past to deliver more respectful, thoughtful and impactful messaging.

Long-Term Targeting Strategies

Long-term success in social media marketing depends on how you cultivate, grow and maintain your audience. Plan to navigate change by measuring your impact and use a feedback loop to learn what messages resonate with people.  The combination of social media monitoring and effective content marketing, will help guide your business decisions now and for years to come. Because technology will move faster than your organization can keep up, having an adaptable framework in place is imperative as consumers become more sophisticated.


Brand Marketing with Instagram

by Sean Wood on September 21, 2011 · 0 comments

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Instagram just announced some big updates at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. They have updated the appearance and re-engineered the app to perform faster.

So now with Instagram approaching the 10 million user mark, brand marketers want to learn how to use the platform to connect with their fans. Let’s take a look…

What Is It?
Instagram is a social photo sharing app that let’s you create and share pictures with your network via Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Flickr and Tumblr. It has an easy-to-use interface that encourages creative photos using vintage filters (similar to the popular Hipstamatic).

Rapid Growth
Instagram is growing twice as fast as Foursquare — which grew faster than Twitter — which grew faster than Facebook. According to “Zuckerberg’s Law of Information Sharing“… each year the number of people sharing information doubles in size. This is great news for anyone launching a new service wanting quick distribution. As the number of social platforms grows, there is exponential growth in the amount of sharing.

Here’s a good infographic that visualizes the data around Instagram’s growth.

Benefits of Instagram for Brand Marketers

  • Gives a voice to your fans with user generated content
  • Highly Creative & Easy to Use
  • Built-in social sharing functions expand your reach

Five Global Brands That Have Experimented With Instagram
It seems Ideal for consumer brands, lifestyle & fashion companies and news organizations

  1. Starbucks – The coffee giant uses Instagram to enable their fans to share their everyday moments with Starbucks coffee. (hashtag #starbucks)
  2. ABC News – I like what they are doing by creating a Visual News feed. They post photos from the day’s news (hashtag #abcworldnews)
  3. Red Bull – “Whatever [marketers] do, they should not lose sight of Instagram’s core mission: sharing a passion for photography and stunning images,” said Red Bull spokesperson. (hashtag #redbull)
  4. Levi’s Brazil – Many Instagram users come from Brazil, so Levi’s created a profile (hashtag #levisbrasil)
  5. BMI baby – The low-cost UK airline (subsidiary of BMI) is using Instagram to announce company news. (hashtag #bmibabygram)

Lessons Learned From Those Experiments
It’s always good to watch the first movers and learn lessons about what they did well and what you can do to improve upon their experience. Instagram is an easy non-intrusive way to celebrate your brand in people’s lives.

  • Use a consistent hashtag to curate the rich range of photos.
  • Use it to share brand messages
  • Don’t be too over-promotional about your brand, but be sure to highlight the people in your community and let them be the collective voice for your Instagram feed.
  • Capture behind-the-scenes images and share them with your fans.
  • Activate you fans and encourage them to share.

Get access to the Instagram API by signing up for their Developer Program

Right now, it’s only available as an iPhone app, but CEO Kevin Systrom recently confirmed that the Android App is coming soon:

“It’s hugely important to us, but we’re only six people. Android is a major priority for us, but first we have to build the team, and find the best people in the world to work on these projects. The company is currently hiring engineers and designers to help it move more quickly on all three of these aims.”

Flickr has been a hugely popular social photo sharing site, but Instagram has taken the social photo sharing capability one step further by having the app built into your smartphone. Pretty cool stuff… what do you guys think?


Why Living Social scored big with Whole Foods

by Sean Wood on September 15, 2011 · 0 comments

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Earlier this week, you may have seen your social network friends talking about the Whole Foods promotion with Living Social. The flash sale created quite a frenzy by offering $20 worth of Whole Foods groceries for $10 with 5% of proceeds going to their charity group, The Whole Kids Foundation.

They sold 1 million deals on Tuesday and experienced heavy traffic that threatened to take down several of the company’s servers. That afternoon, Living Social spokesman Andrew Weinstein said “We’re currently selling more than 115k per hour, or more than 30 per second.”

So why did so many people get excited about this daily deal?

  1. Authentically Good Offer The simple recipe for business success is quality & value. The market responded quickly because Whole Foods offers a good product and Living Social provided the incentive for people to get a good value.
  2. Exclusivity This is the first time that Whole Foods has offered a daily deal. Their reputation as a high-end grocery store has earned them the nickname “Whole Paycheck” but in reality, they offer competitive pricing on many items. This is a smart move by Whole Foods to attract cost-conscious customers that otherwise may not step foot into their store.
  3. Strong Brand Value Whole Foods has created a set of Values that have guided them to become a trustworthy leader in their field. Many people are also attracted to their commitment towards local foods that offer better nutrition, higher quality and more sustainable farming methods.
  4. Word of Mouth This was social selling at its best. Influential people in the social networks were spreading the “act now” message to their friends and family that helped the promotion take off so quickly.
  5. Cause Marketing The company promised to give 5% of proceeds to their Foundation that supports schools and families that improve children’s nutrition and wellness. Cause marketing creates a stronger connection to the brand and builds goodwill within the communities that they serve. This passive giving component makes people feel better about the impact they are making with their purchase decision.

This was a positive story for Living Social — especially in the wake of their competitor, Groupon’s recent setback with their highly-publicized IPO being put on hold. Some have argued that consumers are beginning to suffer from Daily Deal Fatigue but stories like this prove that daily deals can work when the right ingredients are in place. Expect many changes in the crowded group deals space where smaller competitors will fade away or become absorbed by the leaders. But for now…. well done, Living Social!


Content Marketing Across Cultures

by Sean Wood on August 10, 2011 · 0 comments

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photo credit: #96 Michael Duxbury

Successful social media interaction requires generating a greater volume of valuable content, so many brand marketers are having to rethink their content strategy. It is vital to understand how your communications will be received by customers in regions that have different beliefs and values.

Now is the time to invest in cross-cultural social media communications

There is a sea change coming to consumer marketing over the next few years and we need to have a smarter, more effective way to create global content.  It matters what you say and in what context you say it.

Think globally – but act locally. 

Tomorrow’s best customers live in places that you may not even know about.  The values of people in North America don’t necessarily translate in South American, European, Indian, African, or Asian markets.  Here are some questions to get the conversations started in your organization…

  • How do you envision people from other cultures interacting with your brand? (within your country and abroad)
  • What tools or research will you use to understand the consumer behavior in other areas?
  • What measurements are you using to reach your goals and analyze the success of your communications?

Questions to ask about how your brand message be received internationally:

  • What is your greater purpose for being in business?
  • What is your reason for “Why”?
  • Does your message help you stand out from your competition?
  • Are you relating to the beliefs and values of your audience?  How does this scale internationally?

Getting the content and the context right

Some questions to ask about the timing of your message…

  • What response to you hope to achieve from your audience?
  • Are you responding in a timely manner with thoughtful comments?
  • Have there been any negative items or research to prove your brand message false?
  • Are there any recent newsworthy events that could change public perception?
  • Who are you talking to and what do you understand about their viewpoint?
  • Is it interesting enough for them to respond, share your message, or go buy your product?

What they say and how they say it spreads like wildfire and what you put out in social web will make or break your brand in real-time.


Social Media: Meaning and Marketing

by Sean Wood on May 11, 2011 · 0 comments

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While cause marketing has existed for decades, it has taken the rise of social media for it to truly “catch fire.” So just what  is it about social media that is so uniquely and powerfully compatible with commercial marketing efforts that contain societal benefits?

In the recent post about Companies and Causes: Social Media Jumpstart a Marketing Revolution, Arianna Huffington suggests that…

“The first ingredient, and no doubt the element that is now attracting any head of marketing worth his or her salt [...] is that social media allows like-minded people to coalesce.”

Much of what brings people together are things both immaterial and external to the market: a sense of community, connection, and a concern for the state of the world — in short, their shared humanity.

humanity. love. respect.

Photo Credit: B.S. Wise

Social media has granted companies unprecedented access to their stakeholder’s unfiltered thoughts and core values, but as Huffington points out, to tap into their customer’s humanity, companies are obliged  to show their own humanity in return.

Unlike more traditional media outlets like TV, radio, and print, social media is not a one-way mirror. Companies can gain a view of  their audience through listening and monitoring platforms, but their actions are also being watched by the internet public. While social media gives companies a real sense of who their would-be customers are and what they value, it also shines a light on the authenticity and values of any company that engages with it.

It is this quality of social media that has allowed cause marketing, as well as a growing concern for corporate social responsibility, to spread like wildfire. Companies need to engage their consumers on a social and environmental level, and thanks to the transparency of social media, corporate efforts cannot be half-measure or mere lip-service. This is thanks to another unique element that sets social media apart from its predecessors: it’s active, not passive. Whereas TV commercials and magazine advertisements are passive and exist simply to be seen and consumed, social media is about doing, not just watching. Corporate stewardship – or its absence – is monitored, recorded, forwarded and passed along throughout the networks that make up the social web. This means that if a corporation’s cause marketing fails to deliver on its promised goals and initiatives, the world will know about it.

Stowe Boyd commented on Arianna’s article in a recent post of his own, and while he lauded Huffington’s observations as to what’s happening in Marketing, he added that “Because [Huffington] is looking at this cultural shift based on what’s what in advertising, she is seeing the tip of the iceberg and analyzing its movements without factoring in the iceberg below.”

Just what is this iceberg? According to Boyd, we are witnessing a culture-wide rejection of mass media and mass advertising to a more relevant and personalized media.

“The ‘message’ of mass media is not about Iraq, American Idol, or the NY Yankees: it’s mass identity. And when people turn away from mass media — and mass advertising — they aren’t just becoming unaware of the goings-on on some reality show, they are walking away from belonging to a collection of cultural aspirations and obsessions.”

If there is even a little  truth (and I believe there is a great deal of it) in Boyd’s assessment that we are witnessing a sea change  in our collective values and a turning away from mass media, how strange that it should be facilitated by advancements within media. What cynical Gen Xer could have predicted that the best tool to fight corporate greed wasn’t an end to media in itself, but a greater, more sophisticated and more nuanced form of media. Social media is what many previous generations of progressive leaders would have thought to be an impossible synthesis: a hybrid of the world of capitalism and advertising and the world of ecology, community, and sustainability.

Huffington puts it quite perfectly when she comments on the most exciting part of this new offspring of media and meaning:

“…the tools that allow people to connect with each other, their communities, and the companies they want to patronize, are still in their infancy — imagine the impact they’ll have when they are all grown up.


The Serendipity of SXSW

by Sean Wood on March 16, 2011 · 0 comments

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Photo: Welcome to SXSW sign

image credit: Luca Sartoni

The 2011 SXSW Interactive festival just wrapped up in Austin.  Because of the sheer size of the event, it was difficult to attend all of the panel discussions and speakers you wanted to see — but that wasn’t the best part.  The highlight of SXSW was the great people you met in those seemingly “accidental moments”.

I enjoyed talking everyone from social media superstars to influential music industry people — from masters of the mobile space to those that push the boundaries of advertising and technology.

“By intelligently using social technology, businesses can find opportunities in the new economy.”

image credit: Doc Searls

The idea of creating situations where people serendipitously meet others and have unexpected experiences has fascinated me since reading the book, The Power of Pull.  It was a pleasure to finally meet author, John Hagel and hear him speak again at the Social Business Summit (put on by the Dachis Group).  On Thursday, Mr. Hagel talked about “unexpected encounters that surprise and delight.”

The ability to enhance these moments of serendipity can be shaped by creating environments that bring delight and fortunate encounters to those in attendance.  (Experiential Brand Marketers should definitely be paying attention to this!)

The idea presented was that most people “don’t even know the questions to ask.”   This ties into Maslow’s Four Stages of Competance. So the question then is… “how can we find things when we don’t know what we’re looking for… when we don’t even know what’s out there?”

Here are some soundbites from Hagel’s talk about the future of Social Business.  Please keep in mind that I was typing as fast as I could!

Engineered Serendipity

  • Carefully choose your environments. (ie: Attend SXSW if you want to meet motivated people in that industry)
  • Don’t create and stick to a regimented schedule.. you might miss out on those “moments”
  • Tell people the problems you’re working on to get their input and fortuitous help

Knowledge Creation

  • Social Media builds relationships that allow us to build new knowledge together
  • New knowledge is created by coming together… comes from relationships
  • The only way new knowledge gets created is through an incredible amount of friction and argument
  • To create productive friction, you should urge more friction… rather than less friction
  • There are opportunities to shape serendipity… through choices you make at various levels
  • those who do make those choices will be more successful

Social Media Programs

  • These are not about programs it’s about People… especially passionate people.
  • But  passion is embarrassment in a corporate setting… so what do you do?
  • Take passionate people and connect them to pain points in the organization.
  • How do you find them? These people are usually camouflaged…
  • When you find them, help focus them on pain points and get them using social media and you will have good things happen.

Lessons from the Edges

  • Dont go to core… go to edges. Go to the areas with high uncertainty because those areas attract people with passion

For me, the highlight of the entire SXSW experience was the question… “What’s your serendipity strategy?”



Ford talks about Social Responsibility plans

by Sean Wood on March 3, 2011 · 0 comments

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Photo Credit: James Duncan Davidson / TED

Yesterday at TED 2011, Bill Ford gave an excellent talk about how his company plans to adapt to our rapidly changing world.  Ford has identified sustainability as a long-term priority and makes a clear business case for reducing resources and creating more innovative products and technologies.  At TED, he spoke about a ”Global Gridlock” expected to grow as the global population increases with more of the world’s population moves to major urban areas and people in developing countries experience increased income levels.  This means that as people buy more cars, we can expect an increase in traffic and parking issues.  Having the foresight to adjust the business strategy to the changing times, Ford is looking at the future of transportation and I commend their foresight.

Keep in mind that Ford was the only major American car maker that didn’t take a government bailout package during the recession.

Doing Good and Social Media Success

There is a connection between social responsibility and social media success.  Recently at the SoCon11 Conference in Atlanta, Ford Product Marketing Manager, Sam De La Garza talked about Ford’s social media success with the Ford Fiesta Movement.  Ford has experienced growth in troubled times by paying attention to environmental and social concerns and they have also shot past their competition in terms of social media success.  But why?

We’ve found that socially responsible companies that care about their customers, their employees and their impact on the world are more open to adopting social technology as a driver for success.

(TED Photo used under Creative Commons license)


Expedition 206

by Stephen on February 28, 2011 · 1 comment

in Homepage

Expedition 206 started in Madrid on January 1st, 2010, with three young adults who set out to visit all 206 countries where Coca-Cola is served and find out what makes people happy.  They finished up their epic journey in Atlanta in late December.

Here is Kelly, Tony and Toño after they returned from their year-long adventure traveling the globe.

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Responsible Social Business

by Sean Wood on February 18, 2011 · 0 comments

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Sean Wood  at SoCon11

Sean Wood speaking at SoCon11

At the recent SoCon conference, I talked about why Socially Responsible businesses have an advantage in Social Media.  My presentation, called “Responsible Social Business“ was inspired by Freeworld’s digital and social media work with our consumer brand clients.

We’ve found that when companies have evolved to a point where they realize their corporate responsibility, they are quicker to understand the power that social technology can add to their business.

So ultimately, socially responsible companies do well in social media because they better understand the “social” part of business.  Leaders that recognize how their company impacts society are able to make deeper connections with their customers.