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This is a public blog that I use for Research Assistance, Discussion and Getting on the Good Foot. I am the Self-Proclaimed Cogswell Cog of the Cognescenti, Spacely Sprocket of the Inspired, and I Want the Truth Like King has Kong, Cheech has Chong and Right has Wrong.
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this is what I define as the Five Pillars of Social Media Marketing.
The Five Pillars of Social Media Marketing
Any and all forms of Social Media Marketing tactics fall under at least one of these five forms of action. Often the same channel will incorporate two or more of these:
1. Declaration of Identity
2. Identity through Association
3. User-initiated Conversation
4. Provider-initiated Conversation
5. In-Person Interaction
Yep, that makes sense.
1. Declaration What You Do and What You Offer
2. We Will Know You Best By The Company You Keep
3. Let Your Clients Find a Path to Talk and You Should Listen
4. Find A Way to Talk to Your Clients and Potential Markets and Find a Way
5. Handshakes are Still Needed
The line between consumer and marketer is getting increasingly blurry thanks to blogs, video-sharing sites and social networks.
These and other "social media" tools not only allow consumers to filter messages coming from companies and their marketers, but also let them create, shape and spread their own messages.
"Consumers and amateurs are really making their place in the (marketing) world as much as ad agencies," said Sheila Kloefkorn, president of the American Marketing Association's Phoenix chapter.
Companies have been using "viral marketing" for the past several years, creating street armies of citizen marketers who distribute their messages for them.
Now, though, corporations large and small are trying to grab greater control of these tools.
A lot is at stake. Companies that fail, marketing experts warn, will miss out on reaching target audiences and give up what little control they still have over their image.
"Most advertisers have been conditioned for many, many years to totally control their message," said Dan Santy, president of Tempe-based marketing firm Santy. "The Web takes all that control away."
Using social-media tools at least gives firms a way to direct where their messages go.
Cynthia Drasler, the founder of Organic Excellence, said she used to become frustrated as a guest on radio shows because she was never fully able to explain why she felt it was important for people to use chemical-free personal-care products.Hardaway gets it: It's about making yourself meaningful. Driving sales is hard under all circumstances and many external factors affect this. Meaning creation, though, is different. Honestly, we need to pay more attention to meaning making and this involves a number of community-oriented actions and engagement. It is the "community" that, then, is the issue at hand and it is one that is intriguing... more on it later.
So she decided to take matters into her own hands by starting her own online radio show in May 2006.
The show, Chemical Free Living, airs once a week on an Internet radio station at contacttalkradio.com. Listeners can download podcasts of the shows after they air.
On the show, Drasler discusses topics that interest her target customers, and not necessarily Organic Excellence's products.
Even though she does not promote her products during the show, she said the show is helpful in building a brand.
"By having a weekly radio show and having certain shows where I do all the talking for the whole hour, people get to know me," Drasler said. "I become a real person to them, and I think when people know you and if they get to like you, then they go and pay attention to what you're saying."
Crafting honest messages is one key to successfully using social-media tools to shape marketing content, said Francine Hardaway, a local business consultant who helped form the Phoenix chapter of the Social Media Club.
The national organization has branches in cities around the country where members meet to discuss how blogs, podcasts and social networking can affect business.
"I don't think any consultant should ever sell a blog as a way to boost sales," Hardaway said. "It's really a way to brand you're company. It's a way to give out information. It's a way to get feedback from your customers and your suppliers" [emphasis mine].
[It] turns out that plugging products is as problematic in the virtual world as it is anywhere else.
At http://www.secondlife.com — where the cost is $6 a month for premium citizenship — shopping, at least for real-world products, isn't a main activity. Four years after Second Life debuted, some marketers are second-guessing the money and time they've put into it.
"There's not a compelling reason to stay," said Brian McGuinness, vice president of Aloft, a brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. that is closing its Second Life shop and donating its virtual land to the nonprofit social-networking group TakingITGlobal.
Linden Lab, the San Francisco firm that created Second Life, sells companies and people pieces of the landscape where they can build stores, conference halls and gardens. Individuals create avatars, or virtual representations of themselves, that travel around this online society, exploring and schmoozing with other avatars. Land developed by users, rather than real-world companies, is among the most popular places in Second Life.
But the sites of many of the companies remaining in Second Life are empty. During a recent in-world visit, Best Buy Co.'s Geek Squad Island was devoid of visitors and the virtual staff that was supposed to be online.
The schedule of events on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s site was blank, and the green landscape of Dell Island was deserted. Signs posted on the window of the empty American Apparel store said it had closed up shop.
McGuinness said Starwood's venture into Second Life did accomplish something. Feedback from denizens gave Aloft ideas for its physical hotels.
The suggestions included putting radios in showers and painting the lobbies in earth tones rather than primary colors. But now that the design initiative is over, he said, it's difficult to attract people to the virtual hotel to help build the real-world brand.
For some advertisers, the problem is that Second Life is a fantasyland, and the representations of the people who play in it don't have human needs. Food and drink aren't necessary, teleporting is the easiest way to get around and clothing is optional. In fact, the human form itself is optional.Ok, so they don't have enough residents and the residents that are their can often resent the intrusion of the marketing world that they are probably hoping avoid altogether. Again, please, if you are going to market, be creative, do something different and understand your medium and who are audience is, which is kind of like marketing in the real world.
Avatars can play games, build beach huts, dress up like furry animals, flirt with strangers — sometimes all at once.
Their interests seem to tend toward the risque. Ian Schafer, chief executive of online marketing firm Deep Focus, which advises clients about entering virtual worlds, said he recently toured Second Life. He started at the Aloft hotel and found it empty. He moved on to casinos, brothels and strip clubs, and they were packed. Schafer said he found in his research that "one of the most frequently purchased items in Second Life is genitalia."
Another problem for some is that Second Life doesn't have enough active residents.
On its website, Second Life says the number of total residents is more than 8 million. But that counts people who signed in once and never returned, as well as multiple avatars for individual residents. Even at peak times, only about 30,000 to 40,000 users are logged on, said Brian Haven, an analyst with Forrester Research.
"You're talking about a much smaller audience than advertisers are used to reaching," Haven said.
Some in the audience don't want to be reached. After marketers began entering Second Life, an avatar named Urizenus Sklar — in the real world, University of Toronto philosophy professor Peter Ludlow — wrote in the public-relations blog Strumpette that the community was "being invaded by an army of old world meat-space corporations."
He and other residents accused companies of lacking creativity by setting up traditional-looking stores that didn't fit in. His column was reproduced in the Second Life Herald.
Nissan Motor Co., a subject of such protests, has since transformed its presence in Second Life from a car vending machine to an "automotive amusement park," where avatars can test gravity-defying vehicles and ride hamster balls. Sun Micro has made its participation more interactive and fanciful, Chief Gaming Officer Chris Melissinos said.
Ludlow isn't impressed. He said most firms were more interested in the publicity they received from their ties with Second Life than in the digital world itself. "It was a way to brand themselves as being leading-edge," he said.
Angry avatars have taken virtual action. Reebok weathered a nuclear bomb attack and customers were shot outside the American Apparel store. Avatars are creating fantasy knockoffs of brand-name products too.
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It's been more than seven months since Nintendo launched the Wii, but the consoles are selling so well that supply still hasn't caught up with demand. You can get one, sure, but be prepared to call around and arrive promptly when the shipments do.
"I had to get permission from work," said Regina Iannuzzi, 23, in line since 6:20 a.m. on a recent morning. She'd been looking for a Wii, a 25th birthday present for her brother, for two weeks. Every place was sold out.
Like sleeping in? Wiis also are available online, but at a hefty premium to the console's $250 retail price. A slightly used one from an Amazon.com seller called Hard-To-Find-Stuff recently listed for $595 plus $3.99 shipping. Another cost $398 from a different seller.
"The PlayStation 1 was certainly a big introduction, but I don't recall any game system more than six months after its launch still having this kind of demand," said Chris Byrne, an independent toy analyst.
Back in April, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata acknowledged an "abnormal" Wii shortage. Since then, the company has increased production substantially to help meet worldwide demand, spokeswoman Perrin Kaplan said.
But Nintendo also has to manage its inventory, said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets.
"Unfortunately, you can't ask a contract manufacturer to make a million a month, then 5 million," he said.
Sony's PlayStation 3, which launched within days of the Wii last fall, is readily available in stores and online, but sales have been lagging behind the Wii. Cost could be one reason: the PS3 retails for up to $600.
More than 2.8 million Wii consoles have sold in the U.S. since the November debut, according to the NPD Group, a market research company. That's more than double the number of PS3 consoles sold. And Nintendo plans to sell 14 million worldwide in the current fiscal year, which ends in March.
Nintendo's selling point for the Wii has been that it's for everyone, not just hardcore gamers or young men with impeccable hand-eye coordination. Its intuitive motion-sensitive wireless controller lets players mimic movements for bowling, tennis or sword-fighting instead of pushing complex combinations of buttons.
Rein Auh, 30, never owned a console, but he decided to buy a Wii so he and his wife could have some fun and get some exercise. He spent $350 at the Nintendo store on a Wii and some extras. Walking out of the store, he looked back at the crowd of people still waiting.
"It's kind of crazy," he said. "I mean, it's been seven months."
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Sony Corp. slashed the price of its current PlayStation 3 by $100, or 16.7 percent, and introduced a high-capacity model in an effort to spur sales of the struggling video game console.
Starting Monday, the current 60 gigabyte model will cost $499, down from $599.
The Japanese electronics maker also said it is introducing a new version of the PlayStation 3 with a bigger hard drive for storing downloaded content such as video games and high-definition movies.
I guarantee you that more than 14 million Wiis will be sold Everytime someone plays mine it is basically an instant sell. Heck, I think I could sell it to my parents. It just seems to me that in a flat economy where people have no desire to upgrade to yet another disc format, the PS3 has got a long, uphill battle against the Wii, which is not only fun but the best way to experience YouTube in the world.
Sony has said it sold 3.6 million PS3s in the fiscal year ending March 31 and expects to sell another 11 million in the current fiscal year. Microsoft said in its most recent quarterly earnings report filed in April that it had shipped 11 million Xbox 360s.
Nintendo, meanwhile, claims it has sold nearly 6 million Wiis worldwide as of March 31, and more than 40 million Nintendo DS handhelds. The company has predicted it will sell another 14 million Wiis and 22 million additional DS systems by the end of the current fiscal year.
The Wii and PS3 were released within days of each other late last year. Microsoft had a head start in the current generation of consoles, having launched its Xbox 360 in 2005.
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