Monthly Archives: November 2011

Black Friday by the Numbers!

Fact: Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year. Millions of dollars are spent on ads to get people in the stores and make them aware of the doorbuster deals.

Using foursquare data publicly shared on Twitter we can get an idea of how well some major retailers did this Black Friday. Users that share their Foursquare check-ins on Twitter are a consistent group and as a result statistical patterns can be established. These same users are also giving away branded impressions at no charge.

The 6 Black Friday pushes that were evaluated using Foursquare check-in data were:

Target, Walmart, and Best Buy: These are the obvious 3, every year they expressly go after tech savvy shoppers with their discounted TV’s, video games, and cell phones.

Gap and Kmart: Very different stores with the same strategy: be open when everyone else is closed.

Macy’s and Kohl’s: Both spent a lot of money this year attempting to drum up excitement about their offerings via TV ads.

Sports Authority: Sports Authority actually ran a Foursquare promotion, making for an interesting case study. Every hour they were giving away $500 gift cards to their store via Foursquare. They didn’t broadcast it much other than leveraging their database and they didn’t provide many outrageous deals.

The Question: Which retailer had the biggest spike over their average on Black Friday? 

The baseline: Which brand got the most check-ins?


This data consists of public check-ins within the 5 days of black Friday. Walmart clearly dominates check-ins, with Target a close second. On the surface level it would appear that Target and Walmart are the big winners.

However environmental effects need to be considered:

- Consumer preference

- Technology proficiency of a consumer group for a given brand

- Average Age of the consumer group and corresponding technographic profile

- Income: can the group afford smart phones/smart phone plans?

- Number of distribution centers

In short we need some more significant data to work with….

The next level: Trending- Were there actually any spikes?

This graph is a little more telling. Clearly, there were spikes by all 6 brands on Black Friday. It is also clear that Walmart averages the most check-ins for this sample group. Finally and most importantly for the purposes this analysis, the samples are fairly consistent.  In almost all cases the standard deviation was less than 20% of the mean. Only Macy’s had a Standard Deviation large enough, above 80% of the mean for the 30 days leading up to Black Friday, to create measurement questions/require deeper analysis of outlying data.

This trending graph doesn’t fully explain which brands had the largest percent of success. How much did Walmart or Target actually improve above their daily average on this Black Friday? This graph doesn’t give us that information.

Actual analysis: The mean is an important number statistically, it’s like the foundation of a building. The mean often gives more information about a sample than we care to realize and needs to be expressly included in analysis. Walmart averaged 1305 check-ins shared on Twitter every day for the 30 days leading up to Black Friday, Target averaged 1035, Best Buy averaged 358, Macy’s (adjusted) 238, Gap averaged 86, K-Mart had 76, Sports Authority got 27, and Kohl’s had a very small 14 .

It is important to note that these samples don’t include Black Friday data, which would skew and destroy the sample. As will become apparent later, Black Friday as a set are super-outliers for all brands.

Which brand actually did the best?  

It is interesting that Kohl’s was one of the biggest winners. On Black Friday they  averaged 31 times their normal standard deviation. I would question the base sample size if no other brands were close to multiplying their standard deviations to that extent. However, Best Buy, who had one of the largest, and most consistent, regular samples sizes had a LARGER multiplication of standard deviation. Again these numbers were very normative when compared to the mean against each other. Kohl’s and Best Buy were within .01% of percentage standard deviation against the mean. Both Kohl’s and Best Buy were within 2% of Target’s and Walmart’s standard deviations compared against the mean. Only Macy’s required further analysis, after which the data falls right in line with Walmart and Target. Macy’s averaged around 15 times a normal standard deviation, when points greater than 2 standard deviations (outliers) were excluded from the sampling.

What does this all really mean? 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMH6d4Adm9U]

#1 Apparently this ad worked…

#2 Best Buy is the place to go if you are a tech savvy shopper

#3 Target, Walmart, and Macy’s averaged about 6 times their average check-in traffic on Black Friday. Most likely they had similar foot traffic spikes.

#4 Keeping a store open on Thanksgiving doesn’t generate a tremendous lift. Kmart and Gap both had strong returns, however, both stores were still on the bottom of total Black Friday checkins, and had some of the weakest returns.

#5 A Foursquare promotion doesn’t skew data just because it exists. Sports Authority needed better media support.

___________________________________________________________
Mike Handy has been working in Social Media since Facebook was only for college students. He started his first blog in 1999 when most people were still figuring out this “Internet thing”.  These experiences paired with his background in advertising and data-centric approach provide him with a unique view of social media. When he isn’t working he is probably watching, playing, or doing something hockey related.

All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Brand

Make Me Social’s Phil Grech named his blog The Social Media Mullet because, like the hairstyle, it will discuss the fusion of “business” and “casual” under the banner of online communications.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Guess what I’m going to write about?

That’s right: not Thanksgiving. Even better, I’m going to write about why we should not be afraid to be ourselves – even online – even if you are a business.

Defining and refining the voice of the brand begins in the onboarding process. The onboarding process involves a lot of information, but one of the more critical parts is defining the voice. Every brand should have their own unique voice. Depending on the client, we suggest a possible position on the sliding scale of how our tone should come across when writing content.

Let’s say that one side of the scale is professional and the opposite side is personal. You never want to be completely on one side or the other. Rather, you want to adjust to be somewhere in the middle, perhaps leaning more strongly on one side or the other. A financial corporation would do better leaning on the professional side, while a fun, hip restaurant would do better leaning on the personal side. In both situations however, neither lose touch with one side or the other.

This is what works. This is what we have seen work. This is what we have tried, tested, and proven to work. But sometimes, people feel that their voice should be “all professional, no personal.”

I understand the hesitation to relax and loosen up a bit. It’s your company in someone else’s hands.  And the people who want “all professional, no personal” have great intentions. But it doesn’t work. As an example, take a look at this clip from The Office.

Funny, right? But it also makes a point.

Social media is an ongoing conversation. Social media directly reflects how we communicate in person, as human beings. In fact, the success of a social media site will partially depend on how well it can best replicate the process of human interaction. Replicating this process online is a difficult endeavor considering scientists are still studying and trying to figure out the experience in and of itself.

There is one thing we can easily extract from human interaction however. It’s that we want to know that the people we are talking to are people. We want to know that the people we are interacting with have a voice. No one wants to communicate with talking heads (except for The Talking Heads). We want personality. We want charm. We want a little style and flavor.

The people are asking for it, so don’t be afraid. Give it to them. If you’re going to have a brand, you’re going to have a voice. Let that voice be heard.

——–

Phil Grech is a Content Manager for Make Me Social. He published his first book, “Don’t Waste Your Hands”, in 2009. He studied English and Philosophy at Flagler College. In his spare time, he reads, works out, drinks an unhealthy amount of coffee, and searches for good conversation.

The Limit Does Not Exist: The End Of “Social Media”

If you sit a child down with wooden blocks, how long does it take for the blocks to be transformed into a castle, a circus or a cat? The blocks themselves remain unchanged, and what they can become will only be limited by the imagination of the young architect.

At some point in the child’s life, someone may tell them that a wooden block can’t be a cat, because cats aren’t made up of harsh angles and fixed lines. The child could accept that as true or they could pick up some tools and smooth the block into the shape of a cat.

Social media is the wooden block and we are the child.

wooden block

We have been handed one of the most powerful tools for expression in recent history, the building blocks of community and communication, and it is up to us to decide what we want to build. The only limits that exist are self-imposed – or in some cases, imposed at the corporate level.

So how does your business use social media internally? That’s right, internally. As in, to speed up and improve internal communications and collaboration, and build a more vibrant, engaged, community of employees.

The idea itself is not new but many businesses seem hesitant to use existing social media technologies internally. It doesn’t mesh with some preconceived notion of what social media is. Here’s an idea: forget everything that you know about social media. Forget the term “social media”. This is communication, supported by technology. This is creativity, supported by collaboration.

This is Enterprise 2.0 and it is a wooden block. What will you build?

___________________________________________________________
When she’s not working as a marketing manager for Make Me Social, Mandi Frishman enjoys hiding Mean Girls quotes in blog titles. During her time studying at The University of Florida, Mandi became convinced in the power of learning through play. She has since committed herself to playing (and learning) all day, every day.

Socially Made: Branding is about the Adjectives

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

Good branding brings adjectives to the front of a person’s mind. Great branding gives new definition to already existing words (think anyone still thinks of a “tweet” as a sound a bird makes?).

This is what came to mind as I was driving through Delaware and passed a sign that said “Odessa”. Now, I’m not sure what type of place Odessa, Delaware really is, but when I passed that sign on Route 13, the first thing I thought of was: “Mo-Jo!!!!” (fans of the book Friday Night Lights know what I’m talking about). This is brand recognition at its best, and the type that businesses work hard to try to generate.

Branding is about successfully navigating that analogy section of the SATs and being able to be related to a thought, sentiment, description, opinion or even just a word either through phrases or images. However, branding happens even when no effort is made, and if you don’t take the effort to create the philosophy for your brand, perhaps that lack of enthusiasm IS your brand philosophy.

The concepts behind branding have all been discussed before, and have been put into hyperdrive due to techniques in utilizing new marketing forms like social media’s ability to reach and persuade:

  • Creativity – It has to be eye and ear catching (and if possible, try to catch the other senses as well)
  • Consistency – There is a reason the simple phrase, “Yes, we can!” is a associated with President Obama. It is because he made it a mantra amongst his base. Consistency is an example of  something that has become a lot easier due to social media (as far as mechanisms to share your message) but also a lot harder (one more channel to make sure your message is properly represented).
  • Authenticity – Saying or portraying you are about something usually only works if you are actually about that something. Many have felt the “Yes, we can!” line has not been lived up to, causing to be a punchline more than a mantra. So in the brainstorming session into creating your brand, and subsequent brainstorming sessions, make sure the messages you use actually fit (and aren’t being tossed around just cause they sound good).

Beyond adjectives, brands are also about connotation. Over the past week, we saw the connotation associated with several brands completely change,with Penn State and Texas Governor Rick Perry being the two most notable. Once that connotation changes, you either work towards fixing it (Penn State made major personnel changes and is investing in a public relations campaign to start the process of regaining their reputation)…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIQjNbi0KQc?rel=0]

….or work within it (after failing to name the federal agencies he needed to in the Republican debate, Rick Perry goes on David Letterman and jokes about his public blunder).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0rmHzBYHyc?rel=0]

In both these cases, despite the drastic differences in these situations, social media has been utilized in regaining the connotation both these brands want.

So, throughout the next couple days, don’t think about brands and what words come to mind (we already do that every day), think about words and what brands come to mind related to them. Those are the ones you will want to learn from.

______________________________________________________________

Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Socially Made: Branding is about the Adjectives

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

Good branding brings adjectives to the front of a person’s mind. Great branding gives new definition to already existing words (think anyone still thinks of a “tweet” as a sound a bird makes?).

This is what came to mind as I was driving through Delaware and passed a sign that said “Odessa”. Now, I’m not sure what type of place Odessa, Delaware really is, but when I passed that sign on Route 13, the first thing I thought of was: “Mo-Jo!!!!” (fans of the book Friday Night Lights know what I’m talking about). This is brand recognition at its best, and the type that businesses work hard to try to generate.

Branding is about successfully navigating that analogy section of the SATs and being able to be related to a thought, sentiment, description, opinion or even just a word either through phrases or images. However, branding happens even when no effort is made, and if you don’t take the effort to create the philosophy for your brand, perhaps that lack of enthusiasm IS your brand philosophy.

The concepts behind branding have all been discussed before, and have been put into hyperdrive due to techniques in utilizing new marketing forms like social media’s ability to reach and persuade:

  • Creativity – It has to be eye and ear catching (and if possible, try to catch the other senses as well)
  • Consistency – There is a reason the simple phrase, “Yes, we can!” is a associated with President Obama. It is because he made it a mantra amongst his base. Consistency is an example of  something that has become a lot easier due to social media (as far as mechanisms to share your message) but also a lot harder (one more channel to make sure your message is properly represented).
  • Authenticity – Saying or portraying you are about something usually only works if you are actually about that something. Many have felt the “Yes, we can!” line has not been lived up to, causing to be a punchline more than a mantra. So in the brainstorming session into creating your brand, and subsequent brainstorming sessions, make sure the messages you use actually fit (and aren’t being tossed around just cause they sound good).

Beyond adjectives, brands are also about connotation. Over the past week, we saw the connotation associated with several brands completely change,with Penn State and Texas Governor Rick Perry being the two most notable. Once that connotation changes, you either work towards fixing it (Penn State made major personnel changes and is investing in a public relations campaign to start the process of regaining their reputation)…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIQjNbi0KQc?rel=0]

….or work within it (after failing to name the federal agencies he needed to in the Republican debate, Rick Perry goes on David Letterman and jokes about his public blunder).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0rmHzBYHyc?rel=0]

In both these cases, despite the drastic differences in these situations, social media has been utilized in regaining the connotation both these brands want.

So, throughout the next couple days, don’t think about brands and what words come to mind (we already do that every day), think about words and what brands come to mind related to them. Those are the ones you will want to learn from.

______________________________________________________________

Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Problem With Google+ Pages

Google recently launched their business pages product. The product is not without serious flaws or issues. Most importantly, officially you are only allowed to have one person as an admin of a page.  The page must be attached to one, and only one, personal account. At the agency level this makes Google plus pages nearly impossible to work with. Having multiple administers serving several different functions is a basic requirement of social networks in 2011.

Google+ Brand Page Creation

Creating a Google+ Brand Page

There are several reasons why businesses need to have multiple, and replaceable, administrators that are obvious at surface level. When working within an agency there are even more reasons. Community Managers, Clients, Media Teams, Digital Strategists, Account Executives, among others might have a need to log in as an administrator of a page.  In fact for most businesses, more than one person needs to have access and control of a social channel. Google, as a company that recently switched CEOs, should have realized this reality. The Spam controls are great for the network as a whole, however, they are well beyond what is needed from the first iteration, mostly because pages didn’t NEED this much functionality at launch.

The fact that the Google plus business product is missing this core administrative feature is probably most disappointing, because it represents a failure Google has been able to avoid since the inception of the network. Until now Google has not re-created the Facebook wheel. The administrative rights alone indicate that avoidance of early Facebook mistakes may have been more luck than skill. Had Google launched nonfunctional pages with just an avatar, static info, and multiple admin rights it would have been better for everyone. Almost every feature they have is 3 or 4 steps beyond the basic administrative level, and shows an inability to fully understand challenge of running a business channel on social media.

I reached out to Google to ask if the Facebook pages 1.0 solution, *creating a business profile that has no activity for the purpose of managing a page*,  was acceptable. The response, “there will be no terms of service exceptions.” With the real name profile policy on Google Plus the Facebook 1.0 solution out of contention. Google seems to be serious about their terms of service, unless of course, a brand spends a few million in ads every year or it is Google themselves. If  you are not in this category or, you don’t value your adwords, Google Docs, Google Analytics  or Gmail accounts, it is probably not worth breaking the rules.

At this point Google Plus has nearly the same number of active users as Foursquare and Get Glue’s user-base put together, or about 20% of active Twitter users. Until the admin issue is resolved, or the network explodes additional resources are best used for the following purposes.

  • Keeping an eye on brands that are messing up/ creating fire storms on the network
  • Looking for bright spots
  • Investing in developing a strategy for organic growth (few brands are doing this at all and it is very possible, that is a different blog post)
  • Clocking post life
  • Analyzing ripples
  • Personally using new engagement functionality no social site has ever brought to a brand
  • Learning the Terms of Service, Google has shown they are not gun shy about closing down anyone, even big name players! (Looks at Ford)
  • Looking at the SEO considerations

Google Plus Pages is hardly a complete or even adequate product for large organizations at this time.

___________________________________________________________
Mike Handy has been working in Social Media since Facebook was only for college students. He started his first blog in 1999 when most people were still figuring out this “Internet thing”.  These experiences paired with his background in advertising and data-centric approach provide him with a unique view of social media. When he isn’t working he is probably watching, playing, or doing something hockey related.

Limitless Email, In an Email-less World

If you get the reference, I like you already.

Last week I killed the QR code. Now I have email in my sites. Rather, in my opinion, Google has email in their sites.

I’ve lived in my inbox for far too long. I am Pavlov’s dog , or this guy (from Crank Yankers “You’ve Got Mail” video).

For my generation it was ‘cool’ as much as it was a business tool. That’s right, we walked uphill both ways to school in the snow and checked our email and we liked it! If you get that Dana Carvey reference, I like you even more.

What’s the point? I’d like to thank Google for killing Gmail off and weaning me off my addiction with Google+. Even the base URL is cool www.google.com/+

Yes, replacing an addiction with an addiction isn’t really a help. BUT, it’s such an improvement in the opportunity to communicate regardless of the message or audience, that I’m happy to wake up with a G+ hangover.

Email has  tone (which is left to interpretation and can be dangerous).

For example, if you asked me what I think of the new Justin Bieber album and I said to you, “I like it,” in email, would you pick up my sarcasm? Or would you run off and tell your friends that I think the new Justin Bieber album is muy caliente!

G+ has mindset and context. It takes a conversation, whether business or personal and puts it in an environment designed to deal with personality and tone, aka a social setting. I can throw a photo in front of someone and know they see it vs. worrying about what their inbox is going to do with the attachment.

Mike Handy is probably smiling and saying, “It’s Enterprise 2.0.”

Well for me, it’s an addiction and one I’m happy to try and get others hooked on.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Josh Jordan is the president and founder of Make Me Social, a marketing agency that combines traditional and new strategies to enhance an organization’s online presence and importance. Having held leadership positions with several Fortune 500 firms in industries including marketing, advertising, technology and media, Josh has developed new tactics and processes for improving outreach, sharing information and demonstrating subject matter expertise. As a difference-maker in a constantly evolving industry, he has combined the components of his background to create a communications philosophy that can assist non-profit and for-profit clients develop campaigns that deliver measurable results.

The Social Media Mullet: What Would Philosophers Think of Social Media? Part 4

Make Me Social’s Phil Grech named his blog The Social Media Mullet because, like the hairstyle, it will discuss the fusion of “business” and “casual” under the banner of online communications.

I just returned from a philosophy conference in New Orleans, the New Orleans Workshop on Agency and Responsibility (NOWAR). I am pretty sure the topics discussed (primarily agency, responsibility, determinism and free will) are topics that do not interest most people; in fact, I am pretty sure most ideas and concepts that philosophers discuss do not interest most people.

What’s interesting to note is that so much of the work done by philosophers, many of whose names are not known by the average person, have had major and profound impacts on all of our lives, from how our government is run to the opinions, ideas and discussions that we have over lunch.

In this post, I want to talk about Hegel with a brief mention of Schopenhauer. Honestly, I shouldn’t even bother trying to write about Hegel. He is one of the most difficult philosophers to read. Regardless, I’m feeling a little gutsy, so I’m going to chance it.

Hegel believed that the Ideal is a particular manifestation of the Geist (German for spirit); the Ideal is a totality and each particular reflects the nature of the whole. Furthermore, you need the totality in order to have self-definition.

If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering what that has to do with Social Media, or what it means at all. For one, with sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, we can express our individuality and show ourselves as unique identities in the world of Social Media. By expressing ourselves as individuals (the particular), we gain a broader understanding of ourselves in relation to others (the universal).

This is similar to a loose interpretation of Schopenhauer’s Principium Individuationis (Latin for the Principle of Individuation) where we define ourselves as individuals. Again, we have a deeper understanding of the whole when we look at the particular. Trust me, that’s really interesting stuff.

If Hegel was still alive, he’d have a friend request waiting for him directly from me. I would be interested in a deeper understanding on his ideas of phenomenology (now that would be a lengthy comment thread). Come to think of it, there are a lot of philosophers I would befriend on Facebook, follow on Twitter and network with on LinkedIn: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, Lao Tzu, Nietzsche, Adorno, Derrida, and of course the father of Modern Philosophy, DesCartes.

Let’s conclude with a quote that DesCartes may have said, Reticulo Ergo Sum, meaning, “I network therefore I am.” Get online, show the world who you are, and gain a broader, deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you.

——–

Phil Grech is a Content Manager for Make Me Social. He published his first book, “Don’t Waste Your Hands”, in 2009. He studied English and Philosophy at Flagler College. In his spare time, he reads, works out, gardens and searches for good conversation.

Sorry QR Codes, I Think You’re Done

 “The Future” … It’s better than today, full of promise and nobody’s wrong …

The Future” – who can’t get behind that? And who doesn’t love Mark Hamill from those Comcast Ads?

In the mid-90’s “The Future” for me was what these guys were doing: Lernout & Hauspie. Who didn’t want to stop typing? Who didn’t want to just ask a question and have the answer fed back to them by a robot voice?

In “The Future” we were going to add the word “uber” to the word “access” and skip the whole bandwidth thing.  We could buy concert tickets, book flights, get stock quotes, improve customer service, cut costs and jump to production of flying cars through phones that didn’t need fancy displays, or apps, or widgets, or video! Better still, no more buttons like you had to use with those pesky IVR systems. Who wanted to have to push buttons?!

A little optimistic?

Maybe? In the last 15 years, Nuance swept up the assets of L&H along with some other small players and is trading around $25/share. You may be most familiar with Dragon and probably have it on a work station, laptop, or mobile device…

The space has also gotten more crowded with some patents and service offerings residing with some ‘small’ players like IBM, Microsoft, and Google

What’s this have to do with QR Codes?

Well it’s Back to “The Future” thanks to this device  from Apple. Once again, they packaged up a feature (voice search) in a nice, neat little bundle and gave hipsters a reason to stop typing and start talking … I’m still waiting for my Twitter integrated speech-to-text function because I’m pretty sure birds don’t type when they Tweet, and after all, it’s really about evolutionary regression and that dinosaurs became modern day birds and who doesn’t want to be a dinosaur! Sorry, QR codes…

So, Mr., or Ms. Marketer that decided to put a QR code on the TV screen, or billboard (should have been a #hashtag to begin with, but that’s another conversation) … guess what … turn that funny square into a search term and “let’s get the conversation started” … with Black Eyed Peas music playing in the background. You’re welcome. #songnowstuckinmyheadallday

And somebody get Mark Hamill back in TV ads talking about “The Future!”

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Josh Jordan is the president and founder of Make Me Social, a marketing agency that combines traditional and new strategies to enhance an organization’s online presence and importance. Having held leadership positions with several Fortune 500 firms in industries including marketing, advertising, technology and media, Josh has developed new tactics and processes for improving outreach, sharing information and demonstrating subject matter expertise. As a difference-maker in a constantly evolving industry, he has combined the components of his background to create a communications philosophy that can assist non-profit and for-profit clients develop campaigns that deliver measurable results.