30 April, 2009

Welcome to Twitter...Hey! Come back!

by M.M. McDermott

Twitter skeptics have a fresh round of ammo to snap into the chamber. Recent news says Twitter's retention rates are in the toilet. If you go weak in the knees for stats and visual aids, here's the Nielson article. Or just look at the sweet chart we liberated from them:

Raw data suggests that 60% of new Twitter users never come back after their first month. Now before you commit Twari Kari (See what I did there? I'm adorable.) consider that there's a pretty good chance those percentages are off. Many Twitter users utilize third party apps like Tweetdeck and Twhirl to carry on their Twitter conversations; Nielson's data doesn't factor in third party app usage. It can only measure those using Twitter's homepage to post. Just taking a look at my twitterstream, I can see that up to 50% of the people I follow tweet using something other than "web". That's a big frickin' blip in the data.

Regardless, I can see why turnover would be high. The Twitter experience depends on relationships and conversations to survive. Otherwise, you're just screaming announcements into the ether like the crack-addled homeless guy in front of the discount store near our house.

One thing social nets like Facebook do well is allow you to quickly build a circle of friends on their site through friend suggestions, contact searches, group and interest queries, etc. With Twitter, it's not that easy. Twitter's people-search function isn't that intuitive. And more refined search functions are only available on third party sites and online directories, not Twitter's homepage.

Everything's fragmented. And fragmentation can be scary for people. Especially when they're new, all alone, staring down at a profile screen with zero followers. You start to feel a bit pathetic. As a rule of thumb, sites that make people feel like losers generally don't track well in the return visit department.

But I've put together a quick Honey-Do list of suggestions for Twitter to boost retention. They're no doubt already considering stuff like this, but I'll throw it out there anyway. After all, it's not brain surgery. Brain surgery's way grosser.

  • Boost people-search functionality on Twitter's main page. Include query elements you'd find on sites like Twellow. If that's too much back-end work, at least pick a few trusted third party Twitter search and directory sites and include links to them on Twitter's people-search page. That way, no one has to go off the reservation looking for friends.
  • Create a regional welcome wagon. Kind of like the neighbors who show up at your front door with pie when you move into the neighborhood. Appoint local Twitterers to reach out to new members, engage them in conversation, suggest friends in the region, etc. If Twitter ever launches a paid Twitter-Pro style account, give the welcome wagon group free accounts. It could be all the incentive they need to help in new user retention efforts.
  • Provide a more detailed How-To list for new users to follow when they sign up. This will help take the guess work out of establishing the account and building a network. I think LinkedIn does a pretty good job turning their How-To list into a challenge of sorts - a Percentage of Completion bar like you see at a fund raising event. The more you do on LinkedIn (add connections, make recommendations, fill out profile info) the closer you get to that goal. At the end of the day, everyone likes to feel they've accomplished something.
  • And to piggyback off the previous point, try what 12seconds.tv does. The mini-vlog site awards "badges" to folks who hit milestones: join the site, you get a badge; post a certain number of videos, you get a badge; participate in one of their promotions, you get a badge. Why not give Twitter badges to users for display in profiles. Give badges to those who reach a certain number of posts, followers, and retweets. If you don't think badges work, then perhaps you've never heard of The Boy Scouts of America.
Even if Twitter never enacts any of these, take heart lonely tweeples. You'll always have me.

Unless you're lame. I don't follow lame-oes.

Other tales of Twitter worship here.

Welcome to Twitter...Hey! Come back!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

27 April, 2009

I'm sorry.

by M.M. McDermott

Not me, personally. I mean, sure, we haven't posted in a week, but it's been busy as hell around here. And that's a good thing.

Regardless, I'm excited to finally get around to sharing a great PR article. A dude named Peter Bregman nails the psychology of the apology and its ramifications for business. In short: Customers are more willing to forgive if you're willing to ask for it.

There are few verities in this world. One of the surest is that people make mistakes. And companies are full of people. So if my social calculus serves me, companies are full of mistakes. Usually they're pretty small. Usually.

Like an instance of crappy customer service. A missed appointment. Or a botched pizza order:

Amateur, but honest. Unpolished, but undeniably sincere. Now that's the way one business not only fixes a screw-up, but turns it into an opportunity to humanize the company.

Really, that's what it's all about. Accepting that we make mistakes and owning up to them. And I've got four simple suggestions to help. As someone who messes up all the time, I've tried them all, and they work. Unless you've killed someone or pissed away little old ladies' life savings in a Ponzi scheme:

1. You gotta mean it. It's mind boggling how something so commonsensical and morally obvious is botched on a regular basis by major companies. If you mail in your mea culpa, you run the risk of doing more damage than you would doing nothing at all. People are perceptive animals. We can smell the difference between hubris and humbleness.

2. Ditch the rhetoric. Forget the spin and the sizzle. Just come out with it: I was wrong. Say it in plain English (unless you speak a different language). If you need to, use a sock and some bungee cord to gag the lawyers. And for the love of all that's holy, don't turn an apology into a parade of excuses. People generally care more about why you're sorry than why you did it.

3. Make it right. Apologies are nice, but reconciliation is better. Giving away free stuff, cutting a check, or even demonstrating an intense (and expensive) commitment to not making the same mistake again can make a difference. People want to see you suffer a bit because they've suffered. Give them blood.

4. Don't over apologize. It'll start to annoy people. My wife will attest to that. Be sorry, and be done with it. Customers will generally let you know if they expect more.

Now go mess something up and practice.

Also in the Apologies Gone Wild department: A-Roid copyrights "young and stupid."

I'm sorry.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

17 April, 2009

Friday Ad Haiku: Promotions and Giveaways

by Alicia Taft

Baseball is back! This year, I was lucky enough to enjoy my first Baltimore Orioles Opening Day. In addition to perks like watching the O's beat the Evil Empire and participating in Mark Teixeira's first game of Baltimore boos, I received an Orioles magnetic schedule, car magnet, and a scratch off ticket worth $3 (a third of a beer!).

Promo nights rule. April 10th was Fleece Scarf Night at Camden Yards, and you know those first 10,000 fans 15 and over are going to cherish that free piece of fleece, even if it's not exactly seasonally relevant (but then again, they might not get 10,000 fans 15 and over in chilly September, when the Orioles are usually continuing their painful fall down the basement steps*).

Ad Agency Confessional's own Matt McDermott was lucky enough to score this promo gem.

It's like the "but wait, there's more" of the baseball world, and the more could be a complimentary set of six official MLB toothpicks for all I care. It's something extra. More bang for my buck.

I unfortunately missed my opportunity to score the scarf, so I started poking around the Internet for some other baseball giveaways. A list of the most interesting promos of the 2008 MLB season includes fake soul patches and--yes--more cowbell. And 2009 MLB promos include Jayson Werth blankets for the ladies (sponsored by Motrin) and sandbox sets.

Pop some Motrin and snuggle with Jayson

But over the past few years, Minor League Baseball has really stolen the show. In addition to the typical t-shirt, magnet, bobblehead and hat freebies, some teams have come up with promotions that raise an eyebrow, like an eighteen-and-a-half minute Watergate moments of silence, an entire five innings of silence, paying customers to park, sheets of cork, and Turkish lira. Not to mention one team's "Van Down by the River" Night for this season.

These off-the-wall strategies can even pique the interest of non-fans, and perhaps turn them into regulars. Make them come for the promotion, but stay for the game--and maybe even keep coming back. Maybe you're not the head of marketing for a sports team. But if you're looking to drive in customers, maybe it's not so bad to step out of the batter's box every once in a while and try something out of left field. Yes, I am clever. Thanks for noticing.

So, bringing it back to the Friday Ad Haiku, today's topic is Promotions and Giveaways.

Glow-in-the-dark fan?
Of course I'll take one of those.
Just because it's free.

*I am merely pointing out trends of seasons past. I still have hope that my beloved team will surprise me this year. Why not, right?

Previously in the Friday 5-7-5: Eating FREE at the agency

Friday Ad Haiku: Promotions and GiveawaysSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

16 April, 2009

Sham-Wow for the Soul

by M.M. McDermott

From the parody files, New York Catholic churches (specifically the archdioceses of Brooklyn, Long Island and Queens) pay a holy homage to creepy Sham-Wow Vince.

Behold: Soul-Wow. While it's not made in Germany, it does promise to give you that "almost Baptised feeling."

As a sloppy Roman Catholic, I suppose I'm the target market for both.

Godularly related: What Would Jesus Drink?

Tip of the Papal Mitre to our buddy ol' pal, 'Packs, for the find.

Sham-Wow for the SoulSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

13 April, 2009

The less you talk, the more I love you.

by M.M. McDermott

Count on someecards to dredge the real muck of the human heart. While its twitspiration is obvious, really, couldn't it be the rule of engagement for most relationships? Husband and wife. Teacher and student. Advertiser and consumer. It's all the same.

Think about that while I kill my heart with Easter ham leftovers for breakfast.

Thanks to our favorite expatriate for the e-bon mot.
Je hais les bérets et Camus m'ont toujours ennuyé.

The less you talk, the more I love you.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

09 April, 2009

Hyundai buyer assurance plan takes it a step further

by M.M. McDermott

Hyundai kicked the car industry in the ass when it offered to cover three months of payments for buyers who lose their jobs. If that weren't enough, they allowed folks to return their cars without penalty if they were still unable to nab a job. It was a brilliant idea that knocked down some of the biggest barriers for consumers in these sketchy economic times.

Of course, others have jumped on the altruist bandwagon. So what's Hyundai going to do to step up their game? Cube-dwellers, some language NSFW:

Hyundai buyer assurance plan takes it a step furtherSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

06 April, 2009

Quit Victoria. And quit yer bitchin', too

If you haven't seen the Quit Victoria ad yet, take a moment to watch and then keep reading.

It's causing a big stink amongst people who care to get miffed about this sort of thing. Oddly though, their issue doesn't lie with the messaging. And how could it? The ad communicates pretty solidly that, for a child, a parent's death is far worse than their temporary misplacement in a crowd. As far as anti-smoking messages go, this one is probably one of the most effective I've ever seen.

No. Everybody has their panties in a twist, not over the message, but over the perceived treatment of the kid in the ad. Some comments I've seen have likened the spot to child abuse.

Child abuse?


First of all, these critics have no idea what happened on set during filming. The kid could be...acting. That's what paid actors of any age generally do once the cameras come on. He could just be very talented, and not provoked to cry by some unseen mistreatment. We'll know for sure when he turns up a few years from now playing Harry Potter's son in "Hogwarts: The Next Class."

Yes, it's possible that someone told little Nigel his real mommy hated him and was never coming back for him...ever, and then shouted "Action!" It's possible. But that seems unlikely. The producers could have cast any kid in the role if all they planned to do was kick him in the shins, steal his candy and tell him daddy left because he was born. No. More likely, as in any commercial, casting people spent weeks combing through child actors, looking for that one special kid who could cry, convincingly, on command. That's not child abuse. Enabling a child's acting career which will, statistically speaking, spiral horribly out of control in a vortex of drug and alcohol abuse, ending in either death, obscurity or parody could be, but that's a different topic.

But let's just say this kid was smacked around a bit and called a poop head in order to get his tears streaming. If that's what it takes to produce an ad which could potentially save thousands of lives, it's worth it. Without question fifteen seconds of perceived mental anguish for thousands of lifetimes lived fully is an easy trade-off. The kid won't remember it the next day anyway. He'll be back home, blissfully munching his Mr. T cereal, dreaming of kid things, unaware of the trail of bickering and complaining he left in his wake.

UPDATE: It's been brought to my attention that Fiona Sharkie, executive director of Quit Victoria, in an interview with the Today Show revealed that little Alastaire's tears were real. He apparently lost sight of his mother amidst the crowd of 150 talent and crew members, and lost his #$%&. There was only one take, and five cameras were rolling during Reginald's breakdown, so the abandonment was most likely intentional.

Regardless I stand by my earlier statement. The potential good this spot can do far outweighs any short term distress little Leslie may have suffered, and will have already forgotten.

Quit Victoria. And quit yer bitchin', tooSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Intern Sweatshop: Ambien(t) Lets Me Sleep at Night

Ambient advertising -- ads in unusual places such as manholes, curbs, the sky, and the bottom of golf holes -- calms my conscience. It helps me forget I was once a “culture jammer” who dreamt about graffiti-ing billboards, but now angry moms think I’m brainwashing their kids. I sleep soundly knowing that people still talk about and enjoy advertising thanks to ambient ads.

Some of the best examples take McLuhan’s saying “the medium is the message” to a new level.

Here are a few for your viewing pleasure:

1) Ogilvy & Mather in Thailand

2) Rapp in London

While others make creative, although not entirely relevant, use of existing spaces:

1) Ogilvy & Mather for The Calcutta School of Music

2) BBDO New York

3) JWT London

(Forgive the use of candy-related ads. It’s lunch time.

You can browse more great examples here.)

Although I currently enjoy ambient advertising, my culture-jamming self questions when it will become obsolete. To better understand this process, I have created the Campbell Model of Advertising Interest Levels. This is a historically proven model, created by The Almighty Me, that analyzes emotive and action-based responses to advertising.

(Campbell, Erica. 2009. “What I do when I write blogs.” Renegade. Maryland: Intern Sweatshop.)

Currently, ambient advertising is transitioning between the Enjoyment and Ambivalence phases. It has been around for more than 10 years, so it has effectively passed Intrigue. And it's inching toward Ambivalence thanks to the anti-advertising folks who think it “clogs the cultural environment.” Either way, it's far from the Nothingness stage in which ads become more useful as bird cage liners.

When will ambient advertising become entirely irritating? When talks about mobile marketing began, consumers viewed it as another invasion of privacy. We have yet to see the year of mobile marketing’s booming success, but opt-in, targeted ads and services such as Green Bean seem to side-step the issue of unwelcome cell phone ads. Mobile marketing attempts to mold itself to consumers’ wishes, but I don’t think the same is possible for ambient advertising. You can literally side-step a giant highlighter on a yellow curb, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s in your way.

M. M. McDermott hypothesized that ambient ads will lose their novelty when really bad ambient ads gain prevalence. The innovation will disappear, leaving light switches with Colonel Sander’s face on them for reasons we won’t understand. But I wonder if ambient ads are immune to a lack of creativity, especially because the only ambient ads I’ve seen are clever and innovative. This may solely be because it’s a relatively new idea in non-traditional media, but part of me hopes you need a great idea to create an ambient ad. For example, replacing a Bic razor with a chicken wing on a strip of mowed grass just wouldn’t have the same impact.

I've searched diligently for bad ambient advertising. The icing on the cake? There isn't any! But that doesn't guarantee ambient ads will stay that way nor will I always find them novel. As my model has proven, I won’t know until I pass from Enjoyment to Ambivalence. The sooner companies start paying for bad ambient ads, the sooner the ads (and I) will reach the Nothingness stage. But this is the most creative advertising I've seen in a while, so until Tammy the hologram is greeting me in the mall offering free samples of freesia lotion, I’ll Enjoy.

Intern Sweatshop: Ambien(t) Lets Me Sleep at NightSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

02 April, 2009

Hasta Ra Vista, Baby.

Who would've thought the Guvinator's Japanese was better than his English? (via these guys)

Kinda reminds me of that episode of Friends where Joey reveals that he'd done ads in Japan for men's lipstick. Don't act like you didn't see it.

You so saw it.

Hasta Ra Vista, Baby.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
The Renegade Agency Confessional - Blogged

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP