Wrapping Up Emerging Media…For The Moment

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Coming back to the analogy that I used at the very beginning of this course, the path of media in our world is very much like a river making it’s way to the ocean.

At some point in time, our methods of communication may very well be seamless, integrated, and consistent across the globe.

At THIS point in time, however, the trend of media has gone from a slow, steady, gradually changing float trip to a turbulent, fast-paced, exciting, dangerous canyon adventure. We still have quite a ways to go before we find calm, consistent waters once again. And who knows what we will see and experience along the way?!?

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In my opinion, the ride is worth the risk. I would much rather be in the middle of the rapid trying to figure out how to steer my craft than be left behind on the shore. But there is definitely risk involved. In this time of limitless choices and unknown horizons, it is difficult to know which path to take. Throughout this Emerging Media course with Professor Joe Barnes and some really insightful and intelligent colleagues, I feel like I have gained a better sense of what to watch out for – positive and negative – as I travel this new path.

Much like advice on what gear to wear or how to inflate your craft, some helpful information exists in the current media marketplace.

– Emerging media is doing a beautiful job of connecting people.

– Interaction is key.

– Real time response and true listening are very real opportunities in this day and age.

– Visual imagery has never been easier or more important to share.

Also becoming increasingly apparent, are the obstacles – the big boulders and the sneaky snag rocks – that we all need to pay attention for as we move downstream. These are things like privacy concerns, ethical and moral marketing considerations, and other things that challenge us to consider what we want the future of our communication to really look like.

The realm of emerging media is a fascinating world that is affecting each and every one of us to varying degrees. At the very least, we need to pay attention. Beyond that, the sky is the limit at this point in time to what can be achieved with the tools that we have and will have available to us. Technology and current social media trends are opening every one of us to new and infinite possibilities in our own worlds.

What will yours look like?

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Public Service Message: Social Media and Drinking Don’t Mix!

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I’m only partially kidding when I say that this is a Public Service Message…

You know you have seen that tweet or that post on facebook, and you’ve thought to yourself,  “ooooh, they are going to regret THAT in the morning”.

Or maybe you’ve been that guy. You wake up and think, “I hope I didn’t do anything stupid last night…” and find out you did indeed do something stupid, AND everyone knows about it because you told them!!

Even with alcoholic indulgences aside, I think it is important to remind everyone out there in web world (especially if you are in your early 20’s, no offense) that what you put online STAYS THERE FOREVER. 

What?!?!?!?! 

True statement. The things that you put out in the online world will be your legacy, like it or not. So make sure you like it. Make sure it is a positive representation of you. That your mom could see it. Or your boss. Or your boss 10 years from now.

You’re welcome.

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Blog For A Brand – Unofficially – And Benefit

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What the heck is the point of an “unofficial” brand blog?!?
You may be asking yourself this very question, as I did earlier today. Why would anyone want to spend all that time and energy on a blog for a company or brand that is not paying them? (Hence the research part of the discussion post assignment, I suppose.)
 
The first unofficial brand blog that I discovered is Starbucks Melody at http://www.starbucksmelody.com/. This blogsite is unbelievably well followed. Who would have thought? Melody began sharing her passion for Starbucks online and discovered that she was not alone. She has cultivated a dynamic and interactive community through her engaging content and up to date information.
 
But I still didn’t really understand why someone would spend so much time to promote a brand that isn’t paying her.Then I found the Linked Intelligence site and the Disclosure tab made things a little more clear for me.
 
Here is the disclosure by Scott Allen, host of the site Linked Intelligence: http://linkedintelligence.com/disclosure/.
 
“Hi, I’m Scott Allen, and I’m the man behind the curtain of Linked Intelligence.
I run this site to make money, not just as a community service. The best way to do that is by creating value for you, the reader, and then recommending products and services and receiving a commission for the referral. That continues to create value for you and allows me to continue providing this resource free of charge. If you feel this site has provided you value, I greatly appreciate you supporting it by purchasing products and services through the various affiliate links on the site”.
 
Aha! So maybe some people run an unofficial blogsite out of sheer excitement and support for their product, but some people are actually making money off of it.  Scott Allen (smart bugger that he is) has cultivated this interactive, dynamic, engaged community with his content and interactions and he has also recognized this as very fertile ground for marketing relevate products. The participants and followers of his blog have already expressed interest in the brand and topic of discussion. All within a very authentic, transparent, unaffiliated platform.They are essentially, an already established, receptive target group. 
 
Are you beginning to see the possibilities?
 
The brand is happy because they are receiving organic, authentic, inspired marketing FOR FREE, associated marketers are happy because they have the attention of a cherry picked group of consumers and bloggers are happy because they are hopefully reaping the rewards of effective product/consumer matches.
 
Talk about a symbiotic relationship!
What do you think?
 
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Thank You Facebook Friends!

Just wanted to share a little social networking in action… Take a look at these blog statistics. The 18th of April is the day that I personally asked my facebook friends (love you guys) to check out my Emerging Media blog.  I really appreciate the support and hope that you found (or will find) something helpful for your emerging media world.

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Is Facebook Enough?

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Well, is it? Is Facebook enough of a social marketing media for my business? I am going out on a limb here (or maybe I am just using controversy to invoke conversation) and saying ‘yep’, I think it could be. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that facebook is the end-all, be-all for all businesses. Nor is it without it’s flaws. But for a small business, with limited resources of money, manpower, and time, I think that facebook can really go a long way towards accomplishing some main marketing objectives.

Here are some of the things that can be accomplished by a well-run facebook page:

1. Connection with current and future customers to maintain or build a relationship.

2. Dynamic interactions with customers (current and potential).

3. Information distribution to customers (current and potential).

4. Information GATHERING from customers (current and potential) – what do they need, what do they like, how can you do what you do even better.

5. Word of mouth referral – social networking is a powerful force for recommendations and suggestions.

That said, I need to emphasize the term “well-run facebook page” in this description. A facebook page that is not dynamic is not worth much. Someone has to manage the page. They have to post relevant, interesting content, monitor the site daily, LISTEN to customer feedback, and respond accordingly. 

The page also has to represent a quality product or service. As quickly and easily as social media can spread the good news about your business, the bad news can spread even farther and faster. Your product has to be solid, your sales team has to be solid, and your message needs to be consistent across the board.

The way a business can use emerging media, and social networking in particular, is unlimited. A website with a blogpost full of relevant and engaging content is a huge benefit to a business (and can also be used to pull from for content on facebook, twitter, etc), as is a Twitter feed that can stay in touch on a constant basis with consumers. Each business needs to figure out what particular marketing formula it can actively and effectively participate in, engage completely in that plan for a period of time, and then evaluate and refine the plan.

I propose that in many cases, facebook alone can be an acceptable starting point and sometimes may even be all that a business really needs to stay connected with consumers in the online realm.  

What do you think?

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“The Mobile Movement”

According to Professor Joe Barnes, in IMC 619, “[m]obile marketing is one of the first completely new marketing vehicles to come along in over 50 years, and it’s quickly becoming a primary means of reaching and building relationships with customers”.
Take a look at this 3 minute video by Google to learn some interesting statistics about mobile marketing (and why you should absolutely optimize your website for mobile use, if you have not already).

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Project Glass: One Day…

An “emerging media” blog would not be complete without at least one reference to a potential future technological reality. Take a look at this video for Google Glass and imagine…

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Modern Marketing… It’s All About Relationships

Modern Marketing... It's All About Relationships

Throughout the conversations regarding emerging media – what it is, who is using it, how it impacts lives and businesses, and why it matters to all of us – a common thread of discussion appears.
An incredible element in this new world of marketing is the movement to focus on relationship-building and networking. The art of marketing has made an incredible shift from telling people what they want and why, to listening to what people want and why, and responding in a variety of ways. Marketing has shifted from something that was projected to something that involves communication. Word of mouth (and “word of mouse”) has become just as important as “return on investment” and gaining customer loyalty has as much value as converting an immediate sale.
Brands are working hard to develop a “personality” that resonates with people and they use that image to cultivate relationships with consumers.
The power of social networking and the possibilities of online communication are changing the marketing game. Companies – large and small – are beginning to realize the need to dynamically interact with the consumer in this online world. They are beginning to realize that it is a lot easier to maintain a current customer than it is to capture a new customer, and that the organic spread of reputation via social networking is unbelievably powerful and much less controllable than marketing through traditional media.
This new marketing world requires brands to maintain a consistent message across the board. From the way the product is created, to the interaction with a salesperson and the quality of the final product, as well as the marketing messages. Consumers are demanding what they want, how they want it. And companies are learning to listen and respond appropriately.
Can you think of a company that you interact with on a “personal” level or that you have a relationship with based on past interactions – positive or negative?

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Marketing With Imagery – Short Films

As our world and our marketplace become increasingly visually-oriented, effective imagery is the name of the game. This includes photography, but the possibilities do not end with still pictures. As a matter of fact, it could be said that visual messaging begins with something as simple as a stick figure, a sketch, a comic and flows through an unlimited spectrum of potential, including films, documentaries, and movies.

If a picture can tell a thousand words, what can a 10-minute film express?

As with so many other aspects of our evolving media world, we need to pause for a moment and consider the opportunities, implications, and ethics of marketing in increasingly complex and pervasive (sneaky?) ways.

Take a look at this short film by BMW, for example. Found here:  

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Highly entertaining, right? It was fun watching the snotty “Superstar” (says so in sequins on her jacket) get a little payback. It was exciting to feel like you were sitting in the front seat of the speeding car or watch them catch air in the middle of the city. It probably made you laugh when Madonna rolled out of the car onto the red carpet in front of the photographers. And the advertising was anything but “in your face”, right. Subtle, to the max.  Powerful, sexy, classy car displayed in an impressive but understated manner.

As a matter of fact, you might not have even known that it WAS advertising if there wasn’t a funny one-liner at the very end, stating “BMW recommends you always buckle up”. Pretty clever, right? No problems, right?

Except maybe we still need to ask the question: where do we draw the line? When do companies or brands need to explicitly state that the content you are viewing is advertisement? How do we differentiate between entertainment and marketing? And do we need to? Does it matter if our entertainment has an ulterior motive? I don’t have the answers, but just like philosophy, I think the discussion itself has value. I think that we, as marketers, and we, as consumers, need to ponder the implications of this rapidly changing and expanding marketing landscape we are living in and ask the difficult questions. Whether we come up with conclusive answers or not. We need to cultivate an awareness about what we are doing and what we are accepting.

What do you think?

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JC Penney – Phoenix or ashes?

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I went to JCPenney (JCP) yesterday to buy some spring work clothes and had the store practically to myself. First of all, this is not too unusual in Beckley, West Virginia, and second, I actually went to the store because I knew that the company is in a bad spot financially and hopefully cutting prices to compensate for loss of favor with it’s customers. So I wasn’t terribly surprised by the lack of customers.

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The JCP salespeople were very sweet, however, and the prices were great.  The clothing is decent and I started to feel sad that the company is in a downward spiral.  Then, when I got into the car to head home, I heard a discussion on the radio about the future of JCP and started doing a little thinking of my own…

In my Introduction to Integrated Marketing class, we learned that it is MUCH harder to gain new customers than it is to keep current ones.  While there should obviously be effort to spread the brand message, most marketing energy should be concentrated on the consumers whose attention you already have, to build and solidify those relationships, reward their loyalty, and let them organically spread the message for you.

JCP has lost a ton of customers due to their recent, DRASTIC changes to the store, product, pricing, and particularly sales campaigns.

Here is a link to an article by Jonathan Salem Baskin, a contributor for Forbes magazine, about the well-intentioned, terrible results of the JCP “Marketing Makeover: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathansalembaskin/2013/01/02/lessons-from-j-c-penneys-doomed-marketing-makeover/

Another article by Baskin, in Forbes magazine online, makes a few suggestions for how the company could potentially dig out of the pit that they currently find themselves in. One of those suggestions is to USE emerging media (of course!) to create buzz around the organization, engage the public in the discussion, and use that feedback to recreate the brand as something that consumers connect with and will ultimately purchase.

 “Make it social. Since everyone will be watching, why not open the windows and invite their engagement? Make the process transparent — the brand narrative could be about the activities to reinvent the brand — and encourage people to talk about it. What would make for better stores? Easier displays? Better in-store information? Merchandise selection? Customer service? This stuff could blow away the dreck that other brands smear all over the social web. Call it the first business reinvention of the social age”.  View the whole article at http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathansalembaskin/2013/04/09/j-c-penney-needs-to-reinvent-reinvention/

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So, what do you think? 

Can JCP recover? Or are they doomed?

Ashes or phoenix?  And how?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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