Thursday, November 20, 2014

Monetizing Social Media in 2015: The Brand Marketers Dilemma

Social Media Marketing Trends: How To Monetize in 2015

The Top Reality TV Show in 2015 “Bots For Boobs”

While no great surprise, a recent report found that marketers focused on B2C (business-to-consumer) brand awareness/marketing strategies have found LinkedIn to be much less significant when compared to Facebook or Twitter for their marketing efforts. For the B2B crowd however, there are several different options, and LinkedIn remains the domination choice. In the Social Media Examiner survey, 88% of business to business marketers are utilizing LinkedIn in comparison to 89% for Facebook and 86%t for Twitter. The 2015 outlook envisions LinkedIn will increase its market share, subject of course to whether Facebook’s recently-announced service for corporate enterprises gains quick traction. Because adoption by corporate users is dictated by an assortment of compliance rules, one can argue that the winners in the war to win social media audiences will be niche players that provide business professionals with specific offerings that address their focused interests..

Social media marketing will continue to become a major pillar of content marketing strategies in 2015.  During the upcoming year, we expect that smart corporate marketers will appreciate there are actually 2 major pillars for content marketing strategies: publication and distribution and that social media is the most efficient technique of enhancing the reach and visibility of their content. Consequently, social media will become the amplifier for their published content somewhat more than the content itself.

Notwithstanding above, most industry followers will keep a keen eye on how “social shopping” evolves in 2015, and specifically as it applies to features/functionality within social media websites and apps. While social media marketing strategies are designed for executing and enhancing brand marketing campaign, transactional activity is where the rubber should meet the road for any corporate marketer who is presumably focused on ROI.   Given their respective audience sizes, the likes of Facebook and Twitter are hoped to be the holy grail for truly monetizing messages, but advertisers and marketers are becoming increasingly aware that the audiences that FB and TWTR claim to have are actually highly-populated by non-humans. Facebook recently acknowledged that of its reported 1.3 billion users, at least 67 million and as many as 137 million are fake accounts, and FB claims it continuously policies those phony accounts accordingly.

According to filings made by Twitter with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, their estimated number of fake accounts aka “bots” is estimated at 9 percent of its total base. While FB and TWTR are arguably the largest social media platforms, there are tens of dozens of others that offer advertisers and marketers audiences that are clearly over-estimated.

Because social media websites are more concerned with reducing the amount of malware and viruses that both infect and effect their platforms, the disconnect between butter and margarine will not be easily-solved in 2015. This is best illustrated in a Nov 20 New York Times column by reporter Nick Bilton (“Phony Friends, Real Profit”), which profiles the burgeoning availability of  free or nearly free software that offers “bot programs” that enable amateurs to create legions of fake followers and “AI” re-tweeters. As such, the only high-probability prediction that we can make is the launch of a new reality-TV show “Bots For Boobs”…which will profile a group house whose residents include 2 hot-babe Russian avatars, a metro-sexual black-belt Indian programmer, a former member of China’s secret internet espionage squad and led by a 25 year-old billionaire who made his first fortune building services for the medical marijuana industry.

Monetizing Social Media in 2015: The Brand Marketers Dilemma

Saturday, October 11, 2014

If You Think Its Expensive to Hire A Real Marketing and Corporate Branding Professional?

words to live by  Words to live by..If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur..

Yes, every smarty pants overseeing corporate marcom budgets would like to believe that “since the cost of technology becomes cheaper, and as the cost of advertising becomes more efficient [thanks to the ad industry embracing the types of electronic trading tools that are ubiquitous across Wall Street]..there’s no need to pay  so-called madmen any premium to help frame [our] value proposition…”

Good luck with that notion.

This isn’t to suggest we advocate or fully embrace the adage “you get what you pay for.” To the contrary, if I had $10 for every frustrating experience shared with me by a client who was over-promised and over-charged for what inevitably turned out to be under-performance, I might be eligible to join the 1% crowd.

Rules of engagement: Objective advice, if only used for purposes of weighing a strategy can prove invaluable.




If You Think Its Expensive to Hire A Real Marketing and Corporate Branding Professional?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rampart Asset


Engaged to oversee design of new website and craft value proposition narrative on behalf of Rampart Asset Management, an alternative asset management firm owned and operated by financial industry executives who are also  certified service-disabled veterans.


Rampart Asset

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Branding Opportunity Up-Tick For Hedge Fund Industry Marketers

2009-02-26-hedge-fund-managers As noted last week by WSJ reporter Andrew Ackerman, the hedge fund industry regulator aka CFTC has further eased restrictions on hedge fund advertising, a move that could spark an uptick in creative branding strategies within an industry long constrained by rules that could further promote their offerings.

The below opening lines of Ackerman’s story should be a call to action for HF managers who understand the need to better position their story within mediums that are known to resonate with your targeted audience. After all, the most successful and most respected firms in other parts of the financial industry have enjoyed outsized ROI by investing in cohesive and creative ad campaigns, as measured by a combination of garnered AUM and increased good will value.

“..Washington–U.S. commodity regulators took long-awaited steps to make it easier for hedge funds and other firms to raise cash by publicly advertising stakes in their funds.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission late Tuesday eased long-standing marketing restrictions on so-called private offerings by hedge funds and other funds sold only to wealthy investors, a move aimed at aligning the CFTC’s restrictions with similar rules set by the Securities and Exchange Commission…

The bulk of the hedge-fund industry declined to take advantage of last year’s eased SEC rules, in part because many funds were still barred from public advertisements under separate CFTC rules that apply to funds that engage in derivatives trading, as many firms do. The CFTC’s move to ease those restrictions Tuesday and make them similar to the SEC’s comes after more than a year of lobbying by the hedge-fund industry.”

Jay Berkman, the principal of corporate marketing and brand strategy firm The JLC Group, whose clients include a number of financial industry firms, including global macro strategy firm Rareview Macro LLC, noted, “If I were managing a hedge fund, this would be the time I’d be tapping into firms that are creative, but also truly understand the industry landscape and the profile of the targeted audience. ” Added Berkman, “An expert that understands that it’s not about what you are selling, but about what your customers want to buy.”

The WSJ story is available by clicking this link (subscription might be required).

Branding Opportunity Up-Tick For Hedge Fund Industry Marketers

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Real Branding: Pictures Tell 1000 Words; Infographics 101; FB Selling Fish Oil

Today’s Sunday NYT Times featured a story profiling how Facebook advertising gurus are constructing an ad campaign to sell fish oil for MegaRed, a neutraceutical brand that is trying to break through the clutter within a product category that is literally swimming with products; the best take away from that story can be found in a comment courtesy of FB VP Eric Schnabel: “Great words with an image attached to them are the purest form of expression.”

Adds Schnabel: Story lines that stretch across multiple ads (ad gurus call this strategy “short-form narratives”), spread out over days or weeks, could also be very effective. “We try to make them more like ‘Law and Order’ than ‘Game of Thrones,’ ” Mr. Schnabel said. “You don’t need to see every episode in order for it to make sense.” But don’t overdo it, he warned. Ads that pop up too frequently feel like spam. Facebook itself generally aims to show one ad for every 20 items in a person’s news feed, although users who like or comment frequently on ads might see more.

In due respect to above-noted young turk, we don’t suggest that Schanbel has hit on new concept within the context of using images, he is simply regurgitating what every brand advocate should know; wisdom that we’ve espoused in this blog more than a few times during the past 8 years. That’s right, we’ve been evangelizing this notion for more than 15 minutes; most recently in our July 10 “blog post”. 

imgadTo illustrate this simple observation with just one example, in 2009, while representing a consumer product company that sought to create awareness about hand hygiene and their alcohol-free hand sanitizer, we ran the adjacent photo image in a Google ad campaign..During the first 36 hours, the ad inspired 10,000 (that’s right, Ten Thousand) click thru’s, converting into more than 1000 orders for the company’s products.

Yes, we do push the envelope when advocating clients’ brand messages. We also pound clients’ tables (and every so often, we’ve had to ceremoniously knock their heads against a wall) to drive home this critical approach to branding in a world where images have become the greatest influencers. How/why else can one explain the success of Pinterest, Instagram and of course, Facebook (among others)? How else can one explain the dramatic shift by brand marketers to mobile device advertising, a format that only “sticks” when images are the primary element?

Because it works.

sandwich-pie-chartAnd before signing off to sun on the beach on this sunny day, this update wouldn’t be complete without making reference to the use of infographics–an approach that uses minimal words within a message dominated by a visual element. We touched on this topic in the July 10 post, but we’re compelled to grab it and shake it some more, this time with a shout out to, one of several online sites that help marketers create a variety of informative presentations that leverage the impact of images.





Real Branding: Pictures Tell 1000 Words; Infographics 101; FB Selling Fish Oil

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

#Chatvertising: Native Content Gets a Kick from #Kik; Talk To The Bot

Kudos to WSJ’s Christopher Mims and his recent article (in which he claims to have coined a phrase that, even if its been around for at least 15 years, will undoubtedly now become ubiquitous across the corporate advertising and brand marketing universe in less time than it might take to craft a wily tweet.

First, in due respect to Christopher–if you’re reading this, you’d want to open a browser and insert the phrase “chatvertising” before you endeavor to secure a trademark or a patent. I found this definition posted to web in 2000:

The act of promoting a company, etc., by insinuating its name and/or press-release-like statements into casual online chats, discussion-groups, nodes, and the like. My employer, Immortals Inc., after a recent merger with MegaSuperCorp, announced Friday it will be launching a multi-billion-dollar chatvertising PR campaign.

But, lets not split hairs when it comes to PR industry IP; the most recent reference by WSJ’s Mims is profiling a more contemporary application: the one in which instant message communication between brand advocates and customers is actually taking place between brand-hosted “bots” (for you “newbies”, bots are merely software-contrived creatures from the world of artificial intelligence) and customers or brand fans who like to think they are engaging in a conversation with a real person. Or maybe, those who use applications such as Kik (akin to the currently more popular “WhatsApp”) are finding the computer-driven dialogue more comforting than having to communicate with a human. When considering the decline of customer service that has permeated online and brick and mortar companies, who can blame anyone for preferring to exchange dialogue with a robot?

Here’s an excerpt from Mims’ column in the WSJ (my footnotes follow accordingly):

kik“…Simply spamming users with ads in such an intimate space won’t work. Part of the problem is that until now, it hasn’t been clear what a “native” advertisement in a chat app looks like. Yet in the first week of offering its “promoted” chats, 1.5 million people opted in to one of the campaigns, according to a Kik representative. And Kik’s own chat bot, which began as an experiment and has been running for years, gets 1.8 million messages a day.

If it seems improbable that so many teens—80% of Kik’s users are under 22—would want to talk to a robot, consider what the creator of an award-winning, Web-accessible chat bot named Mitsuku told an interviewer in 2013.

“What keeps me going is when I get emails or comments in the chat-logs from people telling me how Mitsuku has helped them with a situation whether it was dating advice, being bullied at school, coping with illness or even advice about job interviews. I also get many elderly people who talk to her for companionship.”

Any advertiser who doesn’t sit bolt upright after reading that doesn’t understand the dark art of manipulation on which their craft depends.

Chat bots built by brands can be used for entertainment, but they can also be used to inform; imagine conversing with your bank or utility company’s bot when you have a customer-service question. And the ones Kik is working on can learn, says Mr. Livingston….”

The premise of course, is that artificial intelligence will continue to evolve exponentially; a valid and well-documented thesis. In the case of Kik (as in many other AI apps), the goal is to create a dynamic application that is continuously “self-learning”…so that with each interaction, the robot on the other end of the line becomes increasingly more intuitive and its responses ultimately become indecipherable from the responses one would expect from a human being.  Bringing me to a new phrase that I’ll hereby and happily hypothecate to Chris: ” human beens”…aka HBs…definition: something that was once human.

For those who remember 2001: A Space Odyssey, the article by Mims is an intriguing update:




#Chatvertising: Native Content Gets a Kick from #Kik; Talk To The Bot

WFDs: News Media Now Nothing More Than Social Media? Ready, Fire, Aim

Thought Leadership rhetorical question of the day: Has the so-called “Fourth Estate” completely lost its ethical compass when it comes to reporting? Let the latest events in Gaza be the guide to irresponsible journalism. Let it also inspire corporate advertisers to think hard about which networks they are willing to enrich.

While blogging and tweeting has necessarily transformed the manner in which “news”  (as well as corporate brand messaging) is distributed, this frequent blogger and consummate consumer of all kinds of news is compelled to proffer the notion that many members of the 4th Estate–including those who claim to run “global news organizations” have caused this viewer to turn the channel at every chance, and go straight to the cartoon network. There is simply no credibility and no integrity remaining when so-called journalists prefer to fire first via Twitter, the new weapon of fact destruction–which we hereby claim credit for labeling “WFDs.”

The fact that news organizations such as CNN, NBC, ABC, along with leading print publications and their respective cable and online platforms have succumbed to reporting before fact checking is hardly news to anyone. That said, when CNN and NBC (among others) continuously flash “breaking news update” across their screens–and distill nonsense headlines and out of context images attributed to their embedded reporters, who are tweeting from the streets of Gaza with completely undocumented, unverified and uncorroborated statements such as “Israeli military have just bombed a UN school killing scores of children”…or “..Israeli forces are now indiscriminately firing upon civilian sites, including hospitals and religious centers in Gaza..we can see and hear the bombs landing from where we are in our hotel…” …that’s the time when we can all kiss goodbye the concept of fair and balanced reporting….

Before ranting further, this writer needs to make it clear: There is no question that the Palestinian people deserve and are entitled to a country they can call their own, and one that allows them to peaceably pursue a democratic existence…one that allows its citizens to express their opinions freely (but peacefully), to pursue trade with other law abiding governments, and one that fosters education and the opportunity to pursue opportunities.

The leaders of Israel, whether they are opposing political leaders from different parties or military leaders from various divisions all agree on this basic principal. Anyone who thinks otherwise has simply failed to pay attention to the consistent message and consistent actions taken by Israel’s government towards supporting a pro-Palestinian initiative. This is not to suggest that Israel supports a role that Hamas could play in any such initiative. Hamas, whose ancestors originated in the Syrian city of Hama and were almost completely wiped out by the prior Syrian president in retaliation against the so-called Islamic Brotherood, has publicly decried the Jewish State and has consistently championed the destruction of Israel…and of course, any country that supports Israel’s right to exist.

The challenge faced by many Palestinians in Gaza is the lack of any [democratic] governmental foundation, lack of real education, lack of resources, as well as the fact that factions within the Islamic community have been fighting each other for hundreds of years. Arab nations are notorious for heavy-handed dictators, and truth be told, Western nations, as well as Russia have otherwise supported those governments simply because those heavy hands have kept the storm of Islamic fundamentalism aka terrorism, from knocking down every house and hut in their respective countries.  For those who believe the Arab Spring was a saving grace for those seeking democracy, stare at any headline from almost any news outlet and you’ll be reminded that each of those countries are suffering from greater infighting, greater violence..all of which can be attributed to groups such as Hamas–who only know from terror tactics. There is a solution to all of this..albeit collectively smart minds who advocate a peaceful resolution in which everyone could live as neighbors without fear of being bombed at a moment’s notice have been unable to introduce the notion of reason to a discussion with people who have consistently proven they have no desire to be reasonable.

To clarify, after hours in which both CNN and NBC affiliates continued to claim that Israel was responsible for firing missiles into the UN compound this past weekend, it turned out that it wasn’t really Israeli missiles, but errant missiles launched by members of Hamas. Did CNN or NBC run a correction or apologize for miscasting the reports? Did they acknowledge they had no corroboration as to where those missiles came from and misreported? No.

On the topic of Israeli military “firing indiscriminately”..the exact words tweeted by both CNN and NBC “embedded” reporters, let’s set the record straight: not only are statements such as that completely irresponsible, they are completely false. The reporters are almost as dumb-headed as the millions of viewers who believe that journalists actually check their facts before blasting them in what has become the ubiquitous news media tactic: the “Ready, Fire, Aim” approach.

Shame on them (the news media) for pursuing a race to the “breaking news scoreboard” in order to beat out other networks in the quest to become the most provocative and logically, the most-watched…in turn making them the favorite of corporate advertisers. Now that I’ve said that, shame on any advertiser for fueling the madness and underwriting what they thought was responsible news content.


WFDs: News Media Now Nothing More Than Social Media? Ready, Fire, Aim

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Message From The Middle-East; Out of The Mouth of Babes


Below is an email forwarded to me last night by my uniquely objective and non-political 28 yr old daughter. As prefaced by my daughter, the sender is a young lady, and a member of the Israeli Army, who my daughter met and since bonded with while my daughter participated in a Birth Right Israel trip 2 years ago.

Allow me to caveat by saying: For those who may be easily disturbed and influenced by the news media’s reporting of the recent events taking place in Gaza, including the calculated exploitation of eye-grabbing photo and video images of innocent Palestinian citizens killed and injured in Gaza consequent to retaliatory attacks by Israeli military [in effort to target terrorists who are launching hundreds of missiles into Israel's main cities], the thoughts and comments expressed by my daughter’s friend provides a stark, real-world insight to the realities of what is taking place. Nobody who claims to understand the difference between moral and ethical right and wrong, and nobody who claims to be educated beyond elementary school with respect to world history should be confused by the news media’s reporting of what is really happening right now.

[Personal note] Notwithstanding what seems to be a never-ending series of global conflicts, many of which taking place in the mid-east regions and our country’s growing weariness to become involved in these events, nobody should be confused as what is taking place in the Gaza region and our individual and our country’s obligation to vigorously and proactively stand by a citizenry whose multi-generational legacy [extending back thousands of years], is based on and dedicated to the exact same principles that inspired the founding of our own nation: insuring freedom, democracy and pursuit of peace; particularly when it comes to their defending the preservation of their culture and the right to exist as a peaceful nation that seeks to improve the well-being of our global community, not just their own.

Forward or ‘post’ to your favorite social media network as you see fit..The message could make a positive difference.

Dad–This is a note from the soldier I met on Birthright who wants to become a speech pathologist too! We became good friends on the trip!

Hello you all my friends overseas,

We might have not spoken in years but in the last few days I felt like I needed to write to all of you people I met along my trips and exchanges. I live in Israel in a city called Rishon Lezion not so far from Tel-aviv and half an hour drive from Jerusalem. In the past few days I found myself having 15 seconds to run to the nearest shelter every time I hear the siren goes on. It has already caught me in my sleep at night, while taking a shower and even while driving my car when there was no near place to run to in order to hide. It looks pretty much like this (I hope you’ll be able to open it):

My country is being bombed by an organization you probably heard of called Hamas – a terror organization which took over the Gaza strip and uses its civilians as a human shield. This terror organization is firing rockets from schools, hospitals and mosques in Gaza towards most of the populated areas of Israel, which of course makes it harder for us, Israelis, to fight back where civilians can get hurt and for them an easy way to look good on camera showing horrifying photos of death and getting international support.  (btw: a lot of the photos are being taken from the poor situation in Syria, you can watch this BBC video: )

Few minutes ago the siren went on and a rocket fell in my neighbor’s back yard. I was of course hiding with my family and scared dog in the shelter and I’m safe now. The reason I’m writing to you is because I am well aware of the media taking sides in this conflict for whatever interest there is, and its influence on the people watching it.

As the only Jewish state in the world and a country which is being bombed on a regular base by Hamas we have no choice but to defend ourselves and fight this terror.Here is a short video by the CNN that can maybe explain more for those who are interested:

For those who want to know more about the conflict in the Middle East you can check out this as well:

All I wish for is for you, the people I can reach, not to be misled and to understand the situation of this war from the eyes of those who live it.

I wish for us all peace and tranquility

A Message From The Middle-East; Out of The Mouth of Babes

Friday, July 11, 2014

Corporate Crisis Management and Public Relations; Get in Front of It or Get Run Over By It

aka Corporate Branding and Crisis Management: Be In Front or Get Run Over

A crisis only becomes a crisis when corporate executives (including political leaders, government agency officials, etc) fail to confront and publicly address an incident before any one else makes mention of it.

According to Jay Berkman of brand positioning firm The JLC Group, “Those who recognize they made a big whopper of a mistake (or one that was made by someone within their organization) and take proactive steps to both correct it and inform their constituents accordingly will never have need for a crisis manager, at least not within the context of a public relations crisis manager.

In simpler terms, corporate brand marketing and crisis management should only merge into the same discussion when managers fail to  get in front of the issue. Those who don’t will inevitably get run over by it.


Corporate Crisis Management and Public Relations; Get in Front of It or Get Run Over By It