Monday, December 6, 2010

lonelybrand’s Top Five Predictions for Digital Communications in 2011

Prediction, presage, prognosis, prevision or prophecy (yes; I know how to use a thesaurus). The only real measure of how reliable one “oracle” is over another is the measure of accuracy over time.

I’m not a digital advertising prophet, but I do get enough exposure to digital communications to have a pretty good idea what’s coming. Here’s the links to my 2009 and 2010 predictions for advertising, the economy and innovation. Take a few minutes and give them a read – or just skip below for my 2011 predictions for digital communications.

ADMAVEN’s 2009 Advertising Predictions

KEY EXCERPT: [Web] 2.0 strategies will be more palatable. Smaller budgets and the desire to be more frugal will make [Web] 2.0 much more attractive to medium and large companies around the world. Social media will play a big role in this development, and agencies poised to bring a solid, procedural model with built in metrics will find new business quickly.

2010 Predictions: Conscious Capitalism and Vertical Learning (written in partnership with Maddock Douglas)

KEY EXCERPT: Secondly, but more importantly, the consumers will drive this change. With the power to choose products and services created by companies who no longer see business as a machine driven by profit only, consumers will exercise this measure of control to empower companies that not only empower them, but also facilitate change for the world.

lonelybrand’s Top Five Predictions for Digital Communications in 2011

1) The economy has started to show signs of recovery. The last two months of 2010 display a stock market on the rebound and production creeping in the right direction. However many marketing jobs downsized during years past won’t be making a return. Agencies and brands will continue to juggle keeping up with ever-evolving technologies while executing day-to-day duties. 2011 will be the year of the outsourced digital expert. Firms that build themselves on pure-play digital will step in to help brands and agencies stay afloat while executing outstanding digital communications to their clients and customers. lonelybrand has seen the demand grow – even in the last two months. The good news is that the relationship provides a way to get an internal team up to speed on effective digital communications techniques without risking huge budgets needed to hire the six key individuals required to effectively connect with consumers online. OK – that last part was a dose of my personal ethos – but it’s how I work and so far it hasn’t failed to produce.

2) What’s all this talk about the coming “App Revolution” or “Appocolypse” that will fundamentally reshape the way consumers receive messaging? 2011 will be a year of continued trending to mobile, but I’ve got some news for you: the smartphone thing is already showing signs of hitting a plateau in America. The global market is still a major growth sector for smartphone technology, but the real lesson here is mobile marketing should be a key piece of your digital communications budget in 2011. It’s appropriate for almost every brand and agency, and the costs of entry are so low versus the potential upside it’s almost a no-brainer. Apps have already changed a lot about online behaviors, but the biggest shift has already happened. Expect to see more agencies and brands play catch up as new budgets ripen in early 2011.

3) The Music Industry is in a lot of trouble. It’s because they’ve spent their time and once considerable assets fighting digital communications trends rather than embracing them. 2011 will be a make-or-break year for something we all love: music. What does this have to do with trends in digital marketing and advertising? Think of it as a lesson in exploration. Agencies and brands that aggressively expand their digital communications programs will come out on top. Learning the key steps to reducing risky capital outlay while increasing success rate is the secret. As Quincy Jones, producer of "Thriller" and nominated for a record 79 Grammy awards recently told me, “Artists, producers, songwriters and A&R folks: rise up to the challenge and make your album so good that fans will want to buy the whole thing. I realize every album can’t have six or seven top ten singles like Michael Jackson and I were blessed with on “Thriller” and “Bad,” but you’ve got to try. If it’s good enough, the fans will buy it. Maybe they’ll want to whet their appetite by only buying a track or two at first, but if you keep coming out with good tracks and pique their interest, they’ll be back.” Remember prediction number one? Those are the folks who will help agencies and brands smart enough to bring in outsiders blossom in the year to come.

4) Disciplined CRM and email marketing will continue to generate a stable platform of inbound lead generation and conversions. We’ve been hearing it for years now: email marketing is old school, old hat and on it’s way out the door. Tell that to Groupon. Sometimes (yes, even in our fast-paced digital world) it’s less about exotic technology and more about the discipline to produce consistently. Email marketing combined with quality social CRM will continue to drive big results in 2011. Agencies and brands with a quality content calendar backed by the staff to execute will retain and grow their customer base. Look for more companies to begin injecting social data into their CRM toolset, producing targeted and increasingly relevant communications with outstanding open rates.

5) Analytics will finally make it to the boardroom. When you run a campaign or communications program in the digital world it only makes sense to measure progress. Look for large up-front spends on strategy and development to give way as more agencies and brands realize the risk posed by front-loading a digital marketing budget. The smartest companies will understand that incremental program execution combined with powerful analytics (and the personnel to quantify meaning from the raw data) is a great way to minimize risk and maximize reward. I recommend using an analytics package(s) that can read demographics, see long-term trends and analyze real-time data.

I hope you take these predictions to heart as you plan your business development strategies for 2011. I spend my days making sure agencies and brands are covering all the bases by augmenting and executing tactics that get results. Want to know more? Let’s talk.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps agencies and brands find and connect to digital audiences for profitable outcomes. Want to talk to him about how a complete digital communications program can help your agency or brand grow? Email him at nick@lonelybrand.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Content and Social Media Marketing Success Secret: Create Your Core Branded Destination

Part 2 of a 3-Part Guest Series by Susan Gunelius. Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Content marketing and social media marketing are hotter than ever, but with so many tools, tricks, and so-called experts telling you different things you have to be doing to be successful on the social web, you can end up feeling overwhelmed with no idea where to begin or what to do next.

Relax. Take a deep breath and remember that content marketing and social media marketing are exactly what they claim to be -- forms of marketing, and the underlying theories of marketing still apply.

Therefore, your content marketing and social media marketing efforts need to be based in the fundamental principles of marketing theory to be successful over the long-term. Before you create a Twitter account, add yourself to Facebook, or start a blog, you need to set yourself up for content and social media marketing success by understanding the most basic secrets to content marketing success, which are rooted in integrated marketing and cross-promotional theories. The first of those secrets is the importance of creating a core branded online destination.

As you participate in the social web conversation, publish content, and share information, you’ll do so on a wide variety of websites, blogs, social networks, forums, and so on. In order to make those various efforts a valuable part of your content and social media marketing plans, all roads must lead back to what I call your core branded online destination as mentioned in step 9 of my previous article published on ADMAVEN, “10 Tips to Develop a Content and Social Media Marketing Strategy.”

In other words, as you build your online reputation and develop relationships with people online, you should do so with the goal of bringing them back to your core branded online destination where they can get more of your amazing content and you can deepen your relationships with them. Never boldly demand that people come to your core branded online destination. Instead, quietly offer a link to your core branded destination or make a reference to your useful content, so your audience feels in control of your interactions. In time, your most engaged audience will follow you, tell their own connections about you, and share your amazing content, opening the doors for you to engage with even more people!

I always recommend a blog as the core branded online destination because of its flexibility in terms of the type of content you can publish as well as its search friendliness. Even if you don’t own an online business, blogging can help you as your core branded online destination because of one simple thing -- Google.

Think of it this way -- if you build a company website with 10 pages, that gives Google 10 entry points to find you, index your content, and deliver your site in keyword search results. Now, imagine that you add a blog to your website and publish a new post every day for a year. That gives you 365 more entry points for Google to index and deliver in search results. Now, imagine that you publish amazing content that people want to share with their own audiences (I call this shareworthy content). They write about your posts on their own blogs, tweet links to your posts, share them on LinkedIn, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg, and so on. Suddenly, your original 10 entry points have grown to hundreds or thousands simply because you did two things:

  1. You connected with your target audience across the social Web and made an effort to bring them back to your core branded online destination.
  2. You published amazing content that your audience wanted to share and talk about with their own followers.

You’d be crazy to pass up that kind of access to people!

Therefore, the first secret you need to follow in order to put yourself on the path for successful content and social media marketing is to set up your core branded online destination, start publishing amazing content there, and then, work to build relationships across the web and bring people back to your core branded online destination for further interactions, learning, and sharing.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series where you’ll learn the second biggest secret to getting started on a path to content and social media marketing success -- Surrounding Consumers with Branded Experiences -- coming next week on ADMAVEN.

You can read more about creating a content and social media marketing strategy in Susan Gunelius' new book, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, which is now available in book stores and online. ADMAVEN readers can follow the link to get a free bonus chapter, which is available for download from McGraw-Hill.
Susan Gunelius spent over a decade directing marketing programs for some of the biggest companies in the world, and today, she is President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. You can follow Susan on the social Web on Twitter (@susangunelius), Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps agencies and brands find and connect to digital audiences for profitable outcomes. Want to talk to him about how a complete digital communications program can help your agency or brand grow? Email him at nick@lonelybrand.com

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

10 Tips to Develop a Content and Social Media Marketing Strategy

Part 2 of a 3-Part Guest Series by Susan Gunelius. Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Content and social media marketing are hotter than ever, and you might be tempted to dive in and catch some of the so-called lightening in a bottle that you've heard about. While it's true that every day you wait to get started with content and social media marketing is a missed opportunity, you should take some time before you invest too much time and energy to do some research and create a strategy that will actually help you meet your goals.

With that in mind, take a step back and read through the following tips to develop a content and social media marketing strategy to ensure you set yourself up for success from the start:
  1. Find out what your competitors are doing online. Look for gaps and opportunities.
  2. Learn where your customers spend time online. Listen to their online conversations and join them to start building relationships with them.
  3. Define the demographic and behavioral makeup of your best audience. This is your target audience.
  4. Define your primary social media and content marketing messages and the added value you will bring to the online conversation.
  5. Determine your 1-year objectives for your content and social media marketing efforts.
  6. Define your brand promise and your brandís position relative to your competitors in the marketplace so you can differentiate yourself in consumersí minds.
  7. Develop an honest assessment of the money and time you can invest into content and social media marketing over the next 12-months to determine what you can realistically afford in terms of outside help.
  8. Find the online influencers who have the ears of your target audience and get on their radar screens by commenting on their blogs, tweeting them, and reaching out to them via social networking and/or email.
  9. Create a great core branded destination to which all of your content and social media marketing efforts will lead back to. This is where youíll deepen relationships through interaction and providing amazing, shareworthy content that your audience will want to talk about and share with their own audiences thereby extending your exposure across the Web.
  10. Surround consumers with branded online destinations, so they can self-select how they want to interact with your brand. You can't be everywhere, but itís important to provide alternative ways for people to engage with you (not everyone likes to read blogs or use Twitter). Give your audience more options without spreading yourself too thin. Quality of content and relationships trumps quantity when it comes to building long-term, sustainable, organic growth for both your online presence and your business.

You can read more about creating a content and social media marketing strategy in Susan Gunelius' new book, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, which is now available in book stores and online. ADMAVEN readers can follow the link to get a free bonus chapter, which is available for download from McGraw-Hill.

Susan Gunelius spent over a decade directing marketing programs for some of the biggest companies in the world, and today, she is President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. You can follow Susan on the social Web on Twitter (@susangunelius), Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps agencies and brands find and connect to digital audiences for profitable outcomes. Want to talk to him about how a complete digital communications program can help your agency or brand grow? Email him at nick@lonelybrand.com

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Social Media in Action Series: Duck Sauce

I'm spending a few days highlighting my "best in class" picks for companies driven by social media. This series isn't about uncovering the latest viral phenomenon - it's about slowing your roll a little bit and observing the underlying principles of success in social media marketing. Day 4 in the series features Duck Sauce.

When an Internet phenomenon is reported by the New York Times it's usually regarded as having earned "viral" or "meme" status by the teeming hordes of social media experts. Watch the latest video to reach such status from the band Duck Sauce aptly named Barbara Streisand, then read my takeaways below.



One of the cornerstones to social media success (and some of this can be applied to the music industry as a whole) is producing something that many people will love. Not just "like" or tweet, but truly love. By combining a catchy beat with visuals and celebrity cameos that make most young New Yorkers swoon Duck Sauce created a juicy bit of video goodness that was championed by the largest city in America. The lesson here is simple: target your audience with remarkable content and they will... remark! Too many brands play it safe by generalizing content to apply to as many people as possible, not realizing in the process they are eroding viral potential.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps agencies and brands find and connect to digital audiences for profitable outcomes. Want to talk to him about how social technologies can help your agency or brand grow? Email him at nick@lonelybrand.com

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Social Media in Action Series: List Blogging with Jeremiah Owyang

I'm spending a few days highlighting my "best in class" picks for companies driven by social media. This series isn't about uncovering the latest viral phenomenon - it's about slowing your roll a little bit and observing the underlying principles of success in social media marketing. The third case in this series features prominent blogger and digital strategy expert Jeremiah Owyang.

If you enjoy keeping up with the social web and learning about new technologies you may be familiar with Owyang's aptly named blog: Web Strategy. The blog has one area that I'm going to highlight: a rolling list of brands that were "punked" by social media. Take a look at the extensive article, then read my analysis below the image.


Building a unique, thoughtful list of (for lack of a better word) things, can be an incredible source of traffic, referrals and conversions. For marketers Jeremiah's list provides a chronological account of case studies in social media failure. Incredibly useful for client and prospect presentations, internal reports or as a way to check for probably issues before a campaign goes live.

There are many many examples of lists in social media, but remember this: if it doesn't already exist you may be passing up an opportunity to aggregate and store information that will be appreciated by thousands - if not millions - of adoring fans. Go get em!

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps agencies and brands find and connect to digital audiences for profitable outcomes. Want to talk to him about how social technologies can help your agency or brand grow? Email him at nick@lonelybrand.com

Monday, September 27, 2010

Social Media in Action Series: Google

I'm spending a few days highlighting my "best in class" picks for companies driven by social media. This series isn't about uncovering the latest viral phenomenon - it's about slowing your roll a little bit and observing the underlying principles of success in social media marketing. The third case in this series features Google.

You may have seen Patrick Boivin's hugely popular stop-motion animation series on YouTube. Watch his technique used in this Nexus One unboxing, then read my quick takeaway after the video.


Are there social media guns for hire? In this case, you bet! Google used a tried but true technique - combine meme with an already established personality to create a new and instantly viral phenomenon. Does it always work? Certainly not. In fact the Internet is littered with the wreckage of bad brand/social media personality collaborations.

It's all about finding the right blend of an existing Internet personality providing pure value (no ads already) to their fans, and then tapping it in a way that doesn't corrupt the very attraction that made the content viral to begin with.

It's a delicate balancing act illustrated above perfectly.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps agencies and brands find and connect to digital audiences for profitable outcomes. Want to talk to him about how social technologies can help your agency or brand grow? Email him at nick@lonelybrand.com

Friday, September 24, 2010

Social Media in Action Series: Department of Transportation

I'm spending a few days highlighting my "best in class" picks for companies driven by social media. This series isn't about uncovering the latest viral phenomenon - it's about slowing your roll a little bit and observing the underlying principles of success in social media marketing. Day 2 is all about the Texas Department of Transportation.

Let's face it: drunk driving is a serious problem in America. It's been an ongoing mission of the Department of Transportation to communicate the negative impacts of driving under the influence through various national television, radio and print campaigns. Local governments also get involved, but with budgets shrinking it's been tough to get the word out. I'll just say it. Most of these ads are cheesy and don't connect with drivers at an emotional level. Enter the Happy Hour FAIL campaign. Be prepared for a sting, and read my thoughts after the video.


Ouch. Did you have the same awkward and painful feeling watching a life set back by ten years?

The Happy Hour FAIL campaign is a great example of marketing to Millennials, and it's one of the first ads that plays to the fear of a damaged social media reputation. It's all part of a more robust campaign that connects on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Not bad for a traditional government department rooted in old media.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps agencies and brands find and connect to digital audiences for profitable outcomes. Want to talk to him about how social technologies can help your agency or brand grow? Email him at nick@lonelybrand.com

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Social Media in Action Series: Blendtec

I'm spending a few days highlighting my "best in class" picks for companies driven by social media. This series isn't about uncovering the latest viral phenomenon - it's about slowing your roll a little bit and observing the underlying principles of success in social media marketing. I'll kick things off with Blendtec.

Chances are you're already familiar with the cooky lab tech that likes to destroy expensive and amusing items with blenders. If not I'll let the video do the talking. You'll find my quick takeaway below.


I've always been convinced the success of Blentec's YouTube campaign is rooted in discipline. Sure, it's amusing to watch things get destroyed - but translating that into sales is a more complex feat. You can find hundreds of thousands of videos on the Internet of wanton destruction. Blentec's secret is rooted in discipline. Any social media campaign must be consistently executed with predictable "tune in times". You can always cite one-off examples of single videos that went viral. That's different than a planned and produced campaign, or it's just plain lucky.

Consistency in look and feel as well as a disciplined content release schedule dramatically reduce the chances of failure. After over 100 well produced and executed videos, Blendtec is a great example of the disciplined approach to social media marketing success.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps agencies and brands find and connect to digital audiences for profitable outcomes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Social Conundrum

dilbert vertical

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Double Bland Meme Advertising, What Does It Mean?

I'm working on a lot of content right now - it's been a big week in advertising with the announcement of commercial-free Apple TV, a social network from Apple and a slew of new Andriod mobile devices and tablets. Since I don't have that ready let's all bask in the glory of a full on double bland ad campaign from Microsoft. All the way.



Just because a meme generates insane amounts of online popularity does not excuse ad agencies from putting some creative effort into a campaign based off of the same nonsense.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Authors That Get Social Media: Marcus Sakey

Marcus Sakey was an award-winning copywriter on brands ranging from JCPenney to World Championship Wrestling until he left the business to write novels. His books have been translated into a dozen languages, labeled “nothing short of brilliant” by the Chicago Tribune, and chosen among Esquire Magazine’s Top 5 of the Year. Recently Marcus has aggressively expanded into eBook formats, publishing a series of short stores available online.

About a decade ago, something shifted in the publishing world. What used to be famed as a reclusive profession became a very public one. The novelist was expected to leave his garret and go sell himself.

I’m a novelist, and that’s fine with me. I come from advertising, a world where you fight for your ideas, and promoting my own work comes naturally.

However, what I’ve found interesting over the last few years is the ways in which social networking, the Internet, and lately, the rise of the e-book, have shaped these trends. I’ve written about the first two here before, so it’s the latter I’d like to talk about.

Everyone knows that e-books are the future. You don’t have to like it, but it’s foolish to ignore it. The thing is, right now, that future hasn’t arrived. It’s the Wild West out there. Fortunes were made in the West, but a lot of people died of dysentery, too.

For my money, the people who are hailing the end of publishing are short-sighted. I don’t know exactly how the industry will look, but I sure hope that traditional publishers don’t go away. Art shouldn’t be an entirely democratic process.

No, at this point in history, I view e-books is as a support tool. For example, I just released a bunch of short stories as inexpensive e-books. You can buy them for a buck a pop, or as an anthology of seven called SCAR TISSUE for $2.99.

My goals are simple. I want to offer people a way to try my stuff inexpensively. And I want to reach out to them through media that I can guide, e.g., the Internet. My hope is not that I sell a million copies and retire (although I wouldn’t say no). My real hope is that by taking advantage of a changing marketing landscape, I can reach a potential audience that may not otherwise know of me.

Like you.

To that end, allow me to give you one of my stories, absolutely free. It’s called “The Days When You Were Anything Else,” and it’s one of my personal favorites. It’s available for all e-book formats, or as a PDF you can print out.

I hope you’ll give it a read.

To get the story, just click here, add it to your cart, and use coupon code YB98Q.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Remember What You Used to Think About Social Media?

"It isn't about making content go viral—though that would be a wonderful byproduct, should it happen—or creating the next great Facebook application," Kinports says. "It's about structuring, and in some cases restructuring, how a business views and interacts with its customer base. The modern consumer is savvy, aware, and fully able to make informed decisions, thanks to a wealth of information freely available on the Internet. The consumer of the near future will make purchase decisions based on information gleaned from unbiased peers and influencers. Social media is the latest tool through which these interactions occur."
SOURCE: Bloomberg-Businessweek, May 26, 2009 (click here for the full article)

Sometimes it's useful to look back and remember what we were all saying about social media and the future of advertising. I was reminded of an article I co-authored in early 2009 that eventually made it's way to Bloomberg-Businessweek.

Here's an inspiring TEDx video from David Armano covering his current views on the topic:



We should all remember what made social media such a buzz word in the first place and why many marketers lost their way. Sometimes to move forward you really do have to look back. What did you used to think about social media and the future of advertising?

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Engaging Times: My Picks From #Alterian2010

Attending the Alterian Engaging Times conference gave me an interesting look at brands not typically discussed in the advertising and marketing world. I'm going to highlight my favorite comments and links from the #Alterian2010 hashtag. If you want to get the full presentations for the conference check out Alterian's Slideshare page. You can also read an archive of all the conference tweets here.

ADMAVEN's top 10 Tweets from #Alterian2010:

@djeldridge: 86% of consumers want to engage with the brand.

@michaelsantoro: It's up to us as marketers to stop mass broadcasting and start listening, understanding, and engaging.

@AmandaDeVito: Technology has to be at the core of marketing.

@interactiveAmy: Reminder to agencies, brands & marketers: Technology needs same importance as creativity!

@Elyse_D: In Australia, Court Notices can be served through Facebook. A Facebook Summons is considered legally binding

@MichelleRTaylor: @WesternUnion 's corporate guidelines for SM - Take responsibility for what you post."

@DonPeppers: cross channel communication is like surround-sound marketing - don't allow different tones out of different speakers!

@catherinewarren: You can't take something off the Internet, it's like trying to take pee out of a pool

@exec101: Social Media and CRM are inextricably intertwined - Don Peppers.

@markdamicoroch: 96% of gen y consumers belong to a social network per Don Peppers

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Killer Social Apps: 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Brand Engagement

Social Dev Camp Chicago 2010 was a great time - if you weren't there I suggest getting on board for next year!

In case you missed my panel presentation "Killer Social Apps: 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Brand Engagement" I've included some of the key points below. Special thanks to my fellow panelists Pek Pongpaet (@PekPongpaet) of SpotOn and Chris Pautsch (@ChrisPautsch) of KeyLimeTie.

Game Mechanics
It's no secret that social apps like Foursquare encourage participation and repeat use through an achievement system based on badges. But Foursquare and similar apps represent the beginning of a much larger trend - implementation of social scoring, rating and achievement will proliferate. It's human nature to want to feel a sense of building status and credibility in exchange for loyalty, and apps that satisfy the unmet need will see increased customer loyalty and a lift in repeat visits and use.

Mobility
The concept of mobility may seem obvious, but it's the implementation of the platform where many developers are shifting their thought process. Look for the next generation of mobile apps to be constructed from the ground up independently of preexisting structure. As mobility trends to smartphone adoption with more powerful and feature rich devices expect fewer apps that provide duplicate functionality as website based counterparts. The future of mobility lies in creating game changing applications based on an existing platform or as a first choice to other platforms entirely.

Context and Social Proofing
It's nice to have apps populated with useful information, but the latest trend in content based functions calls on the user's own social networks to create an experience that is both relevant and vetted by friends, followers and even ethereal internet acquaintances.

Activating Brand Advocates
Providing tools to allow sharing through social technologies is old hat. Marketers also know that most users opt out of sharing. Developers must not only provide the tools to share, but ensure the user experience is improved in a meaningful way. The best apps of the future will create much of their own buzz through brand advocates that spread the word as a result of app use.

Real to Virtual and Back Again
When Zynga began promoting their popular Farmville game through real 7-Eleven in store campaign tied to food purchase it set a precedent. Apps that provide a way for users to exchange in app activity for real world benefit and back again help connect and activate consumers - influencing purchase behavior in attractive ways to retailers.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

5 Ways Facebook Places Will Change the Marketing Game

Facebook's new Places feature is live, and it's bringing a whole new dimension to the world's most talked about social network.

Advertisers, for now, are out of luck. In a live reveal of the technology Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, explained that the technology needs to be perfected (finding friends, checking-in and building stories about places via @benparr) before bringing FourSquare-like deals to the table.

When it happens - and happen it will - what can brands and agencies expect from the new technology? Here's my predictions and trends for location and deal based app marketing:

1) Deep group discounting
Facebook Places let's you check in your friends (unless they disable the feature in privacy settings). Expect brands and venues to begin offering deep discounts for large groups of friends checked in at the same time. Want 20% off your entire meal? Get at least 8 of your friends checked in on Places and reap the rewards!

2) Swarm behavior
Allowing you to see where your friends are every second of the day is a big benefit to Facebook's shiny new toy. I suspect that within 5 years being location aware of your network will be as ubiquitous as having a mobile phone. Until then expect advertisers to take advantage of swarming behavior by offering up to the second and unpublicized deals through Places. Business is down for the day? Seed a 50% off promotion through Facebook Places for the next 60 minutes and watch as the information achieves viral status and causes a swarm to appear in your venue.

3) Competitive cherry-picking
Businesses will need to be on their Places game to avoid losing valuable customers. The businesses that fail to adopt or understand how Facebook places work will become low hanging fruit for tech savvy competitors offering killer deals and discounts.

4) Privacy backlash
When businesses begin harvesting Facebook information about their visitors based on Places it's going to raise some major privacy concerns. The best way to avoid being the scapegoat for yet another Facebook privacy outrage is to play by the common sense rules of marketing in the age of social technology. Only contact people who have selected to receive your communications and bring tangible value to the table with each message. I suspect nightlife and entertainment venues will be among the first to ignite the collective wailing.

5) Social CRM
Social technologies bring a bold new dimension to CRM programs. Ensure yours will be compatible with Facebook Places and that you have built in processes to grab and analyze trends from the geolocation view.

For an overview of Facebook Places including how to use the new features click here.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Monday, August 16, 2010

5 Ways to Advance Your Career with Innovation

The familiar refrain "reinvent yourself" has never been more sound for those in search of career advancement today. Fortunately for the CIO, reinvention is a relatively easy thing to do given the innovations IT wields every day. It's a matter of looking at those technologies differently and seeing them as much as a means to promote professional achievement as they are to improve the company's efficiencies and profitability.

"It has never been easier for CIOs to be viewed as thought leaders in their respective industries and move from positions of relative obscurity to highly desirable," said Nicholas Kinports, Digital Innovation manager at Maddock Douglas, an innovation initiatives firm with a client list that includes 20 percent of the top 100 global brands.

There are as many ways to use technologies to build your visibility, credibility and promotability as there are technologies. But here are five ways to get you started while you think of other creative means to highlight your work and build your personal brand:

Get social - Social media allows you to come out of the data center and face your public. It is the surest way of building your professional brand and name recognition. It is the first step to being publicly recognized for a job well done. "As CIOs move to implement innovative social technologies they should be aware of opportunities to self-invest through social networks, blogs and micro blogs, speaking opportunities and communities," advises Kinports.

One good example of a CIO that has used social media effectively is...

Read the full article on CIO Update

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Killer Social Apps: 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Brand Engagement

I'll be speaking at Social Dev Camp this year. Apparently it's already sold out but I hear that you may be able to get tickets from Tim Courtney...

I'm slotted at 10AM CST on Saturday, August 12.

SYNOPSIS
Discover what's next before you read about it on Mashable. Learn about the five most important social technology trends that will shape the way brands communicate with customers in 2011 and beyond.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Game Mechanics Increase Brand Engagement

Or do they?

I was recently pitched on Jellyvision - it's an interactive (and pretty engaging) product that helps communicate complex topics. It reminded me of a concept that I've been meaning to address for a while now: game mechanics as a driver for brand engagement. We've all seen the obvious examples in FourSquare, Twitter (number of followers is similar to a score), and now websites that provide badges or achievements for clicking links, commenting and sharing content with your social networks.

Game mechanics make ads and websites more engaging

It may be a Millennial thing, but incorporating achievements or awards - even if they are valueless - in front of consumers compels them to interact with content more often. Incorporating game mechanics into digital outlets doesn't make sense for everyone, but in the right environment against the right audience it can be the tip of the spear that drives return visits.

Not convinced? Here's another example of the game mechanic in action: Empire Avenue. As if you needed one more social media site to participate in... I like Empire Avenue because it takes the next step of creating a marketplace for social currency where you can buy and sell your friends for virtual currency just like stock markets across the world. On top of that you get the whole badge/achievement thing. Remember my old article on "The Currency of Like"? Here it is in action folks. Oh, and if you want to pick up some shares of me, I'm listed under the ticker symbol NICKK.

What do you think? Are sites that build in game mechanics more successful?

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Changing Face of Media Distribution

I've been writing (and ranting) - for over a year now - about my general dissatisfaction with the way media companies are handling their content. It's a big problem for marketers and advertisers who want to tap audiences but can't seem to strike a chord due to poor implementation of technology and experience.

We are finally starting to see tangible examples of doing things the right way. I'll highlight two outstanding cases and let you decide if it's all as great as I make it out to be...

Everybody loves Mad Men - it has great writers, a stellar cast and some of the best set design work on television. Too bad it's only on television. But wait! AMC is now delivering Mad Men in streaming HD for free on the web.

What's that video to the right you ask? It's the full show - endorsed by AMC and embeddable on any website or social network. Well done AMC. You aren't afraid to craft outstanding content and let it loose on the web for all to enjoy.

Head over to the official AMC Mad Men page to see additional content and video from new episodes. That actually makes it a worthwhile use of your time - and advertisers get a unique opportunity to connect with an audience that is actually appreciative. The power of embedding allows those same advertisers to leverage a show's popularity to spread throughout the web.

The Yes Men Fix The World has seen it's share of controversy. Thanks to a pending lawsuit over some government impersonation shenanigans, the film has yet to be distributed through traditional channels. That's not a new story - and neither is distribution of questionable content over peer-to-peer networks.

What The Yes Men have done to change the game is reward Pirate Bay (a popular Torrent search engine despised by big media companies) users with bonus content available only on select downloads.

At the same time The Yes Men support their future endeavors with requests for financing in the peer-to-peer edition and on their website. So far so good as they have raised well over $10,000 - and all without traditional distribution channels.

These examples may not impress you, and you may wonder if advertisers will really move to take advantage of innovative content producers. You may even wonder if there's a sustainable market for these types of tactics. I'm telling you it's real and it's ready to be tapped today. What do you think about trends in media distribution and advertising? What does the future of media buying look like?

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Top Executives Share Views on Social Media and Interactive Advertising

Here's a nice little CNN Money bit from executives at Twitter, LinkedIn and Zynga on the future of interactive advertising technologies. It's interesting to hear top people at three of the sexiest digital companies dance around the idea of ROI from new forms of advertising.



Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What Does Your Free iPhone 4 Case Say About You?

I'm feeling a little saucy today - so here's the official (and very scientific) iPhone 4 Free Case Personality Analysis!

You probably know that Apple has offered to provide a free case to anyone who ordered an iPhone 4 before September 30th, 2010. In addition, Apple will be refunding Bumper purchases. To show what a nice guy he is, Steve Jobs is allowing customers to choose from not one, but six different cases from various vendors. I don't even want to know what these vendors had to agree to to get on Apple's list, but suffice it to say margins are probably slim to nil.

To get your free case, you must download the iPhone 4 Case Program from the App Store and sign in with your iTunes account information.

Here's what your selection tells the rest of the world about you:

Apple iPhone 4 Bumper - Black
Choosing this case tells the world you like to play it safe and go with what you know. Sure - Apple may have dropped the ball on the whole antenna thing - but you bought the iPhone 4 for a reason right? Stand by your man (or woman) and keep your shiny new toy brand-pure. Other ways to describe your personality might be boring, bland or dull.

Incase Snap Case for iPhone 4 - Smoke
Is the black iPhone 4 too shiny for you or do you have something to hide? Is that Apple logo too reflective in the sun or are you trying to avert prying eyes? Choosing this case means a life on the run, veiling your true intentions with falsehoods, misinformation and misdirection. If you haven't considered a career in the CIA now is the time.

Incase Snap Case for iPhone 4 - Clear
You wear your heard on your sleeve and aren't afraid to show it. Delving into deep personal topics and that precarious "TMI" zone comes naturally to you. Of course you also want to protect your heart from breaking - you just aren't very good at it. You may also be referred to as a "Stage 5 Clinger".

Belkin Shield Micra for iPhone 4 - Clear
Choosing this case displays a deep inner desire to have your cake and eat it too. Often accused of being emotionally distant, self-centered, selfish or sociopathic you want to get all the benefits of iPhone 4 protection without the commitment to sacrifice style and add bulk. Selecting this case increases the odds you will become a serial killer by 23%. It's science.

Griffin Motif iPhone 4 Diamonds/Smoke
Kim Kardashian would be proud of you for selecting this iPhone 4 case. Now you can display your Louis Vuitton knockoff style even when you aren't setting your obnoxious purse in the middle of the sushi bar for all to see. How is the chef supposed to serve you with that thing sitting there?

Griffin Reveal Etch iPhone 4 - Black/Black Graphite
Is your glass half full or half empty? If you choose this case you probably vacillate between the two while pondering the modern wing of your local museum. You also enjoy spending inordinate sums of money on things most people think came from a dumpster.

Speck Fitted Case iPhone 4 - Black Tartan
If you aren't British you wish you were. This patterned case oozes sophistication and nose-in-the-air superiority. In fact - it's the most stylish of all the free iPhone 4 cases. You might do well to remember what they say about the loudest person in the room...

Speck PixelSkin HD iPhone 4 - Black
As if having Pixel in the name of this case wasn't enough to sell you - they threw in "HD" just to make sure the inner (and probably outer) geek in you couldn't resist. Just like those weird people who wave when they see someone in the same model of car you'll know your nerd-kindred when you see someone whip this baby out from across the room. Since your severely introverted personality won't let you wave I hope they make an mIRC App soon.

What's your favorite free Apple iPhone 4 case? Which did you order?

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Flipboard Capitalizes on the Semantic Web

Flipboard is the new social network darling, creating a tablet friendly "magazine" by aggregating and organizing media from users' social networks. The newest semantic thingamajig became so popular after launch that server load was noticeable and resulted in limited connection to the news aggregator app.

We also know that major media outlets like the New York Times have taken a position against these types of apps claiming copyright infringement.

Legal matters aside, with US$10.5 Million in startup funding Flipboard has a lot of ground to make up to get in the black. With increasing questions about business model viability for bandwidth intensive apps that don't serve ads and don't cost anything to use (let's be honest, Millennials and other power users wouldn't pay to download Flipboard in it's current state) I can't help but wonder if the sole purpose of Flipboard is to be bought out by a larger company.

The obvious play until then is advertising revenue, and it would appear that the best way to do that would be use of all the wonderful social data passed through Flipboard to serve meaningful adverts to a relevant target audience, but that's just asking too much, right?

Regardless of how revenue plays out (or doesn't) Flipboard seems to have connected with a significant unmet need in the marketplace for personally relevant content vetted by peers.

Here's the Flipboard feature video in case you missed it:



Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Verizon Rules The Air in Latest Campaign

Verizon is making a big play for customers with it's integrated "Rule The Air" campaign. I have to say - I'm a fan of going for the throat on this one. You may remember that I'm of the mindset that (iPhone 4 antenna design flaw aside) AT&T has been making some business decisions that aren't necessarily aligned with Apple's core customer base. Verizon may be courting Steve Jobs as much as the larger consumer audience.

Here's the television commercial for those of you that haven't seen it:


And here's the online component to Verizon's Rule the Air campaign.

What does it all mean? Not much in my opinion. Apple has been getting more press over signal issues - be they design flaws or network coverage - in the last three months than any other competitors. With the pending press conference about potential fixes and a new version of OS 4 in market it looks like Apple is making an effort.

Time, and signal, will tell...

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Is Google Me the Social Media Measurement End Game?

Speculation on a competitor for Facebook is everywhere. If the purported 'Google Me' is real (and it sounds like it is) it means a big shift in the way advertisers think about social networks. Gone will be the proprietary and often misleading methodologies behind calculating social media ROI and true value. I have no doubt Google's plan includes deep integration with it's proprietary Google Analytics and Insights platforms - tracking clicks from entry to conversion.

If Google finally hits the social technology mark (a goal that has, thus far, eluded the largest search engine in the world) it will mean a golden era in social measurement and reporting.

Do you think Google Me will present real competition for Facebook?

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Killer Social Apps: 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Brand Engagement

I'll be speaking this year at SocialDevCamp Chicago on Killer Social Apps: 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Brand Engagement. Be sure to catch the panel - other notable presenters include Andrew Mason, CEO and Founder of Groupon and Ben Hugh, CEO of The Cheezburger Network.

I'm looking forward to seeing you there! If you have any specific questions or topics you would like me to address, just drop a comment below.

You can also review some of my recent content on trends in interactive advertising.

About SocialDevCamp Chicago

SocialDevCamp Chicago is the unconference of social application and platform developers, evangelists, and enthusiasts. The event explores emerging trends surrounding the development, business, and culture fueling the social web. Join us at the Illinois Institute Technology on August 14-15 in the architecturally awesome McCormick Tribune Campus Center. Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or suggestions at info socialdevcampchicago.com or on Twitter @SDCChi.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hulu Doesn't Understand Millennials: Why Hulu Plus Fails

Lately I feel like such a cynic. It's not my fault - honestly. It's the fact that major media companies can't seem to get it right when trying to connect with Millennials. From the big networks that own Hulu to record labels the trend seems to be taking old ad-based revenue models and trying to find ways to draw masses of people.

It's not just a problem of communicating product benefits, it's a fundamental failure to service unmet Millennial needs at the business model level. If you can't do that no amount of advertising will save your business.

Here's a few insights for advertisers seeking to connect their brand to this massive group of consumers (60 Million strong in the US alone. Source - Mintel):

Relying on Advertisers to Pay the Bills
Major media companies like NBC, Universal and Fox are still of the mindset that they should make money by creating video content and charging advertisers for placements. One problem: Millennials (and many others) don't respond to traditional advertising. Hulu may boast better response rates than television, but the margins are still too slim to support the costs of delivering streaming video to millions of viewers.

Mobility as an Afterthought
Many brands are guilty of a lackluster mobile offering: duplicating the web experience on mobile devices with no added benefits (often the opposite). Hulu plans to make the same content available via iPhone, iPad and others, but with little extra. Hulu mobile needs to be a comprehensive and proactive service to be compelling to Millennials. How about mobile alerts sent to your phone the second your favorite shows become available for viewing? Perhaps creating a mobile ad platform that requires advertisers to offer truly unique deals and discounts to opt-in subscribers.

Still No Social
The closest Hulu gets to a social experience is rating shows or sharing via email. This isn't enough - and certainly not for $10.00 per month. To survive and thrive Hulu must adopt comprehensive social technologies as part of the core experience. Chat rooms for shows, scheduling your own broadcast lineups for you and your friends to watch simultaneously as well as a mechanism to invite anyone through Facebook, Twitter, etc..., VoIP through Hulu (or through a partner like Skype) to share the experience of watching your favorite shows together. Those are just a few concepts that would be irresistible to Millennials and it took me all of 3 minutes to think of them.

Getting Everyone on Board
With networks like HBO, Showtime and Comedy Central clearly not on board with Hulu the result is viewers still have to hunt and peck around the web to find other shows they like. If Hulu can't get Comedy Central on board at least provide a sort of "universal web TV Guide" that links to or notifies Plus subscribers of exactly where and when an official web video goes live. Better yet - just do what it takes to get the real content on Hulu, in one place, so subscribers can get what they want, when they want it. Millennials demand instant gratification - remove that and you create one more point of friction.

Hulu Plus: Not Better Than Pirate Bay
When it comes down to the basics - and this is a subject that remains hidden in much of the commentary - Hulu plus isn't better than downloading shows from a Torrent search engine. These days most television shows (and even 18 Gigabyte Blu-ray movies) are readily available for download at no charge and in extremely high quality. You can take them anywhere, watch them on any device and keep them for life. Yes, it's technically illegal, but we haven't seen any real backlash from broadcasters or ISPs as of yet. The point isn't to advocate piracy. It's to give Hulu a reality check - why would Millennials pay for something they are getting free elsewhere?

Let's talk about implications for the agencies and developers creating rich advertising content for services like Hulu. Be warned - your clients' days may be limited by their inability to connect with the very group that should be bringing them the most revenue. Competitor services that understand Millennials are out there and growing. Without substantial change in the service offering, Hulu has a high potential for failure in the next two years.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 9 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.