Tag Archives: social marketing

I am Here

Location! Location! Location! The three words you usually here when looking for real estate. But what about in the cyber world. What does this really mean? We have location services for GPS, and that works great for items like navigation systems, and locating devices. Location services for tracking purposes, like with shipping services and company vehicles. But now we have location services for Tweets, Updates, and Check-ins. What does this really mean or get one?

In previous posts, some of the things I have experienced, I have posted. Some of this has been on the business side, and some has been on the personal side. But the question I usually seem to get often, is why should anyone be a part of Foursquare, or use any type of location services. And that is a fair question. If some method is not useful for a business, then why use it? If some new technology comes out and the person is not that interested, why use it? And that is the question only one person can answer: you. Whether it is for yourself or for your business, it is something that you must decide if this is right for you. Not all technology or services will be a “one size fits all”. Especially in technology, if it is a one size fits all, then it usually will not be able to do what you need it to do.

So let’s first examine the personal aspect of the location based services. What are some of the benefits for a person to use it, besides broadcast/brag to the world where you are? One of the reasons I use it is when I travel. By checking in at different locations on the journey, I can let me friends, family and business associates know where I am. Foursquare has a great tool to post to Twitter and Facebook as well, so you can get all bases covered in one check-in. Another reason I use it is so I can still “play around” with friends and associates who are no longer close. We have contests to see who can check in the most, become mayor of as many places as possible, who goes to the most areas, etc. It is another way to keep those relationships alive. I also use check-ins when I go to new places, especially restaurants, to see if there are any deals, or suggestions, or better yet, cautionary advice to stay away from a place. And most important thing to remember about Foursquare, if I do not want to be found, I do not check in at all. Just because one has the service does not mean one has to use it all the time.

Next, why should a business use it. This all depends on what the business is. Obviously if the business does a lot of secret projects, then they probably do not want to check in all the time. But there are useful ways to use Foursquare. First, a business should register the place, venue, location. Once you are there, make it exciting for people to check-in (and by that, they make it in your door) by offering them something. Even if it is 10% off a drink, or copies, etc. In this economy, even 10 cents could be the difference maker. And on the same token, offer interesting items, or tips, about the place. Movie theatres can offer tips like all movies before 4pm are matinee and cheaper prices, or days when there are not as many people showing up to the theatre. This can drive traffic and revenue on some of the more slower times. And make sure you read what others post about the place. This is invaluable as it is direct feedback about the business and how it is perceived. A really good presentation examines what different companies have done with Foursquare and was presented by David Stutts, 20 Interesting Things: Foursquare. Yes this is 11 months old and technology changes quickly. But this should give a good start on generating ideas on what could be useful.

I am Not All Alone In the World

Chicken - Ducklips Photography
Courtesy of Ducklips Photography

As I scour the web and read, I come across many different articles. One thing that has been in the news for some time now is the unrest in the Arab world, and the different demonstrations, and subsequent backlash from those events. But it is not just about politics, it is about using the social media to be more than a way to play Farmville or Angry Birds. I love the social media outlets just as much as the next person. It is fun, I love joking around with my friends. The Hirdweb Facebook page is another extension of this blog, and I use it to suit my needs. However, many businesses set up a page, then let it flounder after a few months. It is not enough to just set up a social campaign, or page, or feed, the company must keep it going. And that can be easier said than done.

Doing any type of campaign, whether it is a traditional spot, or a new social campaign, there needs to be some type of sustainable presence and interaction. Whatever the product or service, if you want the people to keep coming back, it has to be more than just “Here is my product/service! Hope you enjoy” type of message. Some campaigns do not provide products or services, they provide messages, movement, and reshaping ideas. No matter what the message is, no matter what the end result target may be, a sustained drive will lead to better success than a quick one hit and bail.

Continue reading I am Not All Alone In the World

Focus on the Locus

Locus Curve
Locus Curve

Location services, good or bad? Well that depends on how it is used. If you you it to stalk other people, then it could be bad. It could also be a better way to stay engaged. Locus, defined as:
1. a place; locality.
2. a center or source, as of activities or power: locus of control.
3. Mathematics. the set of all points, lines, or surfaces that satisfy a given requirement.

In each of those definitions, it can apply to how individuals and companies react in the social sphere. Even extending the Math definition could help. Starting on the first definition, a place or locality, we can look at recent events to see how this plays out. Protests in the Middle East have been widely reported. Some countries shut down Facebook and Twitter and other sites because they do not want information getting out. By Tweeting or posting an update on Facebook, the people add locations and the world is able to see the events. The storms that swept the south of the United States and wiped out community after community. And location services played a role in re-uniting people, and being able to let others know outside of that area status updates. In the aftermath of the Japan quake, Google provided location services so people could be found and updated. Information flowing, connecting people is just one part of location services.

But it is not just about extreme conditions, or emergency services, it can be used for businesses. We can examine the hotel chains as a prime example. Their business model is to allow people to stay in a place away from home, and be comfortable (hopefully). Hotels needs to have rooms filled in order to make money. If rooms go empty, then it is hard for a hotel to make money. Hotels in larger cities are plentiful and more competition exists to fill those rooms. A new app available on the Apple line of mobile products, HotelsTonight provides a great service that some hotels have taken great advantage. This provides a way for people to get last minute deals on hotels in the city they are currently in. Imagine being in a city and having to stay over night because of a meeting that ran long, flight canceled, out for a night on the town, etc, and you need a place to stay. By using this app, it will provide different hotels with deals on empty rooms. If you ran a hotel in one of these cities, why not use this type of service?

And it extends more. At first, Twitter and Foursquare seemed like the perfect apps for college age friends to meet up, find out what is going on. I have friends in different cities across the United States, and it is funny to see them check in to different places and become “mayor”s of certain places. It is almost like a game of “King of the mountain” that we can play being in different cities, to see who can become mayor of most places. Foursquare provides more information as well. While traveling, we stopped in a restaurant. I checked in to to restaurant and found special deals for this place, and suggestions made by others who had been there before. Some places even offer discounts on the food when you check in at their location. We got a free appetizer for checking in at a local Greek restaurant. All we had to do was show them our iPhone with the check in.


So why should this matter to anyone? It will not if you do not care about technology. Like it or not, we are becoming an increasingly connected global society. Location services, whether by a mobile application, or by web app, can help. It can help in times of needs, in times of trouble, in times for fun, in times for business. it your place, your locality. Use it for a center or source of activities, provide knowledge of your product. It can be used to help promote your product/service as the solution for the potential customers’ set of requirements at that location. When we start to look at the location services as more than a mere annoyance, and another method to engage and build customer relationships, it can become a powerful tool.

Ideas for the Social Leper

image courtesy of Ducklips Photo

Social networking, check-ins, friending, linking-in, and other items have made for an interesting world. Some people may see this as a purely consumer/individual niche, with only the younger crowd getting into this new fangled technology. The internet has been around for a while and people sometimes have a hard time seeing how these new social areas can have any meaning to the world. Good or Bad, these items are here to stay, and eventually evolve. Today we know of things like Foursquare, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and others to help us keep in touch with everyone, even people who are not really our friends.

But how can businesses take advantage of this? Some have tried, some have succeeded, some have failed. And still some, are reluctant to try this. One of the cases I saw with this I could not believe they were using social media this way to do a marketing campaign. As I always say, I am no marketing genius, but I do feel I know technology. This company had a product that they would market. They had a specific site set up for this product, and would try to highlight the different parts of this product. When it came to social media, the message was always the same. No matter which portion of this product was being showcased, the same message was being done on the social media outlets. And I am not talking about the same idea being conveyed, or the same thought. I am saying the exact same verbiage, for each time it hit the social sphere would be the same. I equated that to social spamming.

All Alone
image courtesy of Ducklips Photo

Imagine being around a person who said the same thing every time you saw this person. No matter what the conversation was, no matter what events were happening, this person would say the exact same thing every time you were around this person. Would you be excited to see this person? Would you start to ignore this person? And that is what one really needs to ask in these situations. I am sure we all have our “friends” (using Facebook) that we read their posts and just think, “I should hide their posts because they are annoying”. Or they just get thrown into the friend dumpster.

But this group looked at social media as another billboard, another TV spot, another magazine ad. And is that what social media is really is? Of course not. It is a chance that businesses can actually interact with their consumers. Years ago, the big push was to create sort of a “symbiotic” relationship with the supply chain, including distributors, suppliers, retailers, etc. This even extended to a certain extent for competition. Now businesses have a way to create that same relationship with the people who actually pay for the goods and services. And some companies would prefer to just treat this avenue as another billboard. Why would they think that would engage the targeted audience? Does anyone, besides children, get excited to see tons of pretty colors and the same message constantly? It is time to start interacting with the consumers to build those relationships. It is possible, and no matter what the product is, it can be done.

The Pet Rock
(image from wikipedia)

Anyone remember the pet rock? It was a freakin rock! Something you can pick up in the backyard. Yet people would buy these things. It was the way it was marketed. I am sure they did not just market it by promoting a purchase of an ordinary rock from the ground. It was marketed as a real pet, filled with funny play on words and relating it to a real pet. It came with a full instruction manual, and a box that looked like a pet carrier. But at the heart of the product, it was a rock. Most products have a lot more functionality than a rock, and fail. It is the message. Using social media should be the same. Interact with the consumers, build that relationship, and have them interact with the company. Sure, some people will be rude, and even try to degrade the company. Build the positive voice, and keep the engagement alive!

At the Dance

When I was a younger kid, I would watch different shows with my parents. A couple of these shows had a similar gag. The Muppet Show had a segment called “At the Dance”, which was similar (a homage maybe?) to Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In cocktail party segments. These segments were great for the one liners, quick jokes, and rapid sequence of conversations. This was great for a viewer and for a kid, well at least for me as a kid, it was funny and interesting.

Muppets: At the Dance
Image from Muppet Wiki

As all young children do, I grew a little taller and started to age through the elementary years until I got to the junior high stage in life. It was the first real time I would be able to participate in a “At the Ball” segment in real life. My friends and I thought this was going to be so much fun. Then we arrived at the dance. The horror set in that we would have to dance with a girl, which up until recently in my life at that stage, had been “icky”. We saw one of our friends dancing with another young lady and when the dance was over, he came back to “our side of the wall” and then got it. Everyone over in our area started to tease him, recite the silly childhood chants of “kissing” and ending in baby carriages. This just made me more unlikely to dance with anyone else. And soon, I found myself in the reality of being smack dab in the middle of a Muppet like segment where I watched others have conversations. I would occasionally say something if I was close by, but it was awkward and usually ignored. At times it did feel like I was left out, and the fear of being ridiculed was too much for me to break free.

Luckily I was able to play football to help me ignore those moments. But junior high soon ended, and high school began. It did not get any better. During the freshman years, many of my friends soon had “others” they would rather hang out with. Their conversations revolved around these type of activities. Ones which I was rarely involved in. Dances were no longer the only times that seemed like the Muppet segment. Now it was in regular times in-between classes, before school, and after school. I would say something. Some times, it seemed like the “parrot” of the group, saying the same things over and over, or repeating what others had said. Sometimes it was witty, and the group would laugh, maybe focus on that for a few minutes, then go on discussing the different events of the past weekend and the upcoming weekend. I knew I could no longer be the social leper of the group.

Punch Out
Do your comments result in this?

It was not just being able to say odd things, or random thoughts in the social circles I traveled with. That usually resulted in a not too pleasant backlash. OK, maybe not as harsh as the picture indicates, but simply saying anything was not enough. Being witty was not enough. Being a joker was not enough. This did not sustain meaningful conversations, and my ultimate goal: being able to take a girl out on a date, maybe even to a dance. High school brought many opportunities for that. Some people may have thought it a waste of time, or remained scared of what others would say. That was not my fear. My fear was being shot down. I no longer wanted to be on the peripheral of the conversation, I wanted to be able to participate and drive it. This led to many other things, as I saw my friends who did this, they always seemed to have dates (and bum money off me). I wanted that.

I had to break out of my shell. I needed to understand that sometimes, I will strike out. Some girls may say no to me (and they did often). I was tired of watching “At the Dance”, I wanted to be part of it. I hung around my friends, I knew the different things they did, I wanted to be a part of that. Too many of my friends got a head start on me, and I had to play catch up. It was possible, all I had to do was understand that I would not always be the center of attention. But I could contribute to this. If I offered something of interest and was able to interact with others, it did not matter if I brought up the topic, or just participated. I was no longer just throwing out random thoughts in a crowded room, I was getting involved with others. Soon my social circle grew, and more people knew who I was. I was no longer the “odd shy one over against the wall”, I was a human being human with other humans. I learned from them, got to understand them, and they understood me. This led to more dates, and more dances.

I was finally not just watching “At the Dance”, I was part of it. I was able to interact. Instead of talking to other people, I talked with them. Instead of just spewing out random items, or saying the same thing all the time, I was able to interact and understand others. Sure I made mistakes along the way, I am sure everyone does. But in my social circle, people knew and understood me, as I did them. When I did stumble, I did not cry over it, and let despair sink in. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the game. it was more enjoyable when I actively engaged others, rather than just watch their conversations go by.

Sometimes, companies experience the same thing when approaching social media. Is just being “At the Dance” enough, conversations whizzing by, maybe mentions of the company or its products, and the occasional shout out to the noise in the room?

Facebook Social Plugins

So I was doing something for work the other day where I was incorporating some Facebook social plugins. They wanted the Facepile, the Like button, the Activity Feed. All are very easy to implement. They do not require any type of Application for the generic install of the plugin. Facebook makes it even easier for one to add these because on the site, they provide a very nice interface to enter all the data in, and get the code. Those links are below:
Facepile – http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/facepile/
Like Button – http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like/
Activity Feed – http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/activity/

Each item listed above is easy to integrate, and can be extended in its own way. if all you need is a quick implementation of this, then just go to the Facebook site, enter the data, grab the code and paste on the site. And you are done. Each item is a little different in how you can modify the plugin. A couple of examples I have created are found at:

Really quick overview of the three:
This one does not have a lot of other options available. This will show only your friends who have liked the same page/URL. It will not show all people, only your friends. If you do have an Application registered to Facebook, then you can enter the application ID to show who has connected to the application. The same principles apply, but the message displayed is a little different: “Friend Y has connected to Application Z”.

Like Button
This is the button, not the box, where you can have the Like or Recommend displayed. The nice thing about this button is that it can also be localized by passing the proper language locale set in the code.

<script src="http://connect.facebook.net/de_DE/all.js#xfbml=1"></script>
<fb:like href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hirdweb/140356864345" layout="button_count" show_faces="true" width="450" action="recommend" font=""></fb:like>

And from my own experience, only one language can be displayed on the page. In the example, I created iframes for each button using the XFBML on each page. And to maximize the effectiveness of the Like button, make sure to complete the Open Graph Tags to help tag the site. In my example, all are pointing to the Hirdweb Facebook Page. Using the Open Graph will also help when the user shares the page, add comments when they like the page, etc. It can also help to grab data on the page, and make sure to read up on the Open Graph API.

Using the XFBML you can also do some other items when a user clicks the button, using the JS API. In my example, I am just using as very simple pop up alert box. To do this, you must be using the Javascript SDK/XFBML implementation of the Like button. This is captured by the Event.subscribe method, passing the param of edge.create.

FB.Event.subscribe('edge.create', function(response) {
  // do something now that they like the page
  alert("Thank You for liking this page"); 

Activity Box
Much like the Facepile, this one is easy to implement, using XFBML or iframe. Like all other social plugins, this one can be modified for the locale if you add the correct language locale in the code.

script src="http://connect.facebook.net/sv_SE/all.js#xfbml=1"

. This plugin also has the ability to track what plugin generated the activity on your site. By adding the ref variable in the FB tag, it will track this.

And just in case you forgot, here is the link to the examples:

Focus on the result

I have been taking the last week to review my posts and see what I have written. And I must say I am really long winded at times. So in an effort to make more posts, and to keep them more targeted, I am going to do my posts with a clear focus on what I want to convey. No more side trips. I will explain things, but keep it a little simple as well. I am also going to focus on a few new topics. I have mainly focused on PHP items, and will still do that. I am also going to branch more into the social and digital marketing areas. In my current occupation, and career path, I am still doing code, but I am seeing the code I am writing with a little more focus. What I am writing goes directly to some kind of marketing, whether it be subliminal marketing, or superliminal marketing, the applications I am writing all go into that. So I have been exploring the different areas more and more.

One area is the social aspect that can be built in to the applications. Do these even work, or is it worth it. This focus will be mainly on the applications like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. At times I will also examine other areas, but those will be the main focus. Some will be about code and integrating the Graph API into sites. This is ongoing right now with my name site (www.stephenhird.com). In this application, I am building a basic online resume that can be updated via an admin inteface, and then connect the jobs, interests, and schools with the Facebook API. This is an example site, and the actual real world application of this theory is highly unlikely. When I was thinking of this, I really thought of how many people are on Facebook. If I were to link my previous employers, schools, interests it may help. It will only allow those who link to my application to connect, but it can show prospective employers, headhunters, etc a list of their network that may have worked with me, gone to the same school, etc. Yes this is a double edged sword, as some connections of this person viewing my resume may not be a good reflection. But, if you have nothing to hide from your previous work or school history, it should be fine. And as this is just an example exercise that I am posting about, it will give ideas and different methods to help integrate the Graph API with a code base.

So with this in mind, I have linked my Hirdweb application on the menu. But please also check out the Hirdweb Page on Facebook:

Please visit this and interact, I am always looking for some good ideas, and feedback. I will never claim to be an expert in anything. I will only give you what I know, and sometimes I may be wrong (just ask my wife). But I will always be honest and if I am wrong I will say I am wrong. And now, I will also start focusing on the result of the post, the message of the post and the idea being conveyed.