Teens 14-18 needed for survey on attitudes towards non-profits


A big thank you to those who’ve been a part of my blogging journey as I inch closer towards a Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) from West Virginia University. With Emerging Media now in the rear view, I’m making my way towards the finish line by developing a top-to-bottom campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

This capstone class has already become a (challenging!) pleasure: we’ve got a fantastic charity to base our campaign on in St. Jude, a connected, engaged instructor in Dennis O’Connell, and a call with the star of my favorite childhood album “Free to Be You and Me,” Marlo Thomas.

To create a foundation for the campaign, I’m researching teens’ propensity for supporting the mission of St. Jude. As part of my research, I’ve developed a survey for high school students and recent grads to help me understand their perspective and think of new ways to engage them.

Please help me reach my goal of 100 responses…If you know anyone interested helping me out by taking this survey, please text or email them this link: http://conta.cc/HrjysC

The survey will be open until November 30, 2013.

Thanks for your help!


Tracking consumers in-store: invasion of privacy or increasing customer satisfaction?

Christmas shopper on phone

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nordstrom is one of my all-time favorite brands. In addition to their product selection, open store layout, and open-ended return policy, their customer service is the reason I go back time and again. Nordstrom made headlines recently as one of several brick and mortar retailers monitoring consumers’ in-store traffic patterns through the Wi-Fi on their mobile phones. Nordstrom discontinued the practice in July 2013, partly due to customer complaints.

Is Nordstrom’s consumer tracking an invasion of shopper privacy or the next step in improving the customer experience? I believe it’s the latter. Online, we expect brands to monitor our shopping habits. The customer data Amazon has on me is accurate as their suggestions are right on. Amazon: feel free to track where I’m at on your site, what products I’m interested in, and how long my visits are. Thanks for remembering my previous purchases and keep those recommendations coming! After all, no relationship works without some compromise from both sides.

The same goes for Nordstrom. As a customer with strong ties to the brand, I consider anonymous customer tracking valuable for consumers and retailers. If knowing what products are of most interest, and what areas of the store gets the most traffic, feel free to connect and see where I go. Collecting metrics is critical for business. Do the media outlets reporting of this customer “spying” use Facebook? Do they track page visits, length of time on a tab, and other metrics to better understand viewers? In today’s world of mobile and social media, brick and mortar retailers have the right to leverage physical sites to their benefit, evening the playing field with online competition.

Take this poll and tell me what you think:

Heads or Long-Tails?

Image courtesy of Arunspaceimage / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Arunspaceimage / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Choosing effective keywords for a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign can be a daunting task: do you pick general, highly sought-after “head” terms or brand-specific “long-tail” keywords returning fewer hits? While one- and two-word head terms may generate large numbers of hits, are searchers using them quality visitors ready to make a purchase? In many cases, the answer is no. General terms are frequently used at the beginning of the consideration funnel by consumers looking for information. Searchers ready to pull the trigger on a purchase decision are more likely to use “long-tail keywords”: queries which contain a minimum of three keywords and include qualifying terms.

Brands who bid on long-tail terms stand to improve their ROI:

  • High-quality searches
  • Increased conversion rate
  • Less competitive terms yield lower search volume
  • Lower cost-per-click (CPC)
  • Improved click-through rates
  • Boost quality score

For example, a search of “baby shampoo” yields more than 31 million results.  Within the same product category, a long-tail search of the “best price on organic baby shampoo in Philadelphia suburbs” produced 109,000 results. Using a long-tail keyword provided fewer, more relevant results easing the search process and offering multiple solutions on the first two pages of results.

The Future of Search

Google is my go-to information resource. As long as mobile is society’s preferred method of communication, searching by voice will likely increase, making it increasingly essential for brands to include long-tail keywords in their PPC campaigns. Rather than say a single keyword during a Google voice search, I am more likely to ask Google to search a relevant term: “Where can I buy organic baby shampoo near me?” Searching by long-tail keywords clarify a request and benefit consumers and brands alike.

What are your Google keyword habits? Do you search by heads or long-tails?

Pfizer’s social presence in a regulated industry

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Over the last two years spent studying IMC, I’ve developed an admiration for brands able to consistently engage consumers in the social realm. Developing and sustaining a social presence is no easy feat. Working in the medical device industry, I’ve wondered how we, as well as other highly regulated industries, could engage consumers in social conversations. Pfizer, a leader in the biopharmaceuticals sector, has emerged time and again as a social success story.

Active across social channels Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, Pfizer has achieved success through consumer responsiveness and transparent communication. While it is not uncommon for consumer brands to have tens of thousands of Facebook followers, how many brands in the pharma or device industries do? Pfizer has over 80,000 followers and more impressively, every post is liked, commented on, and shared by multiple fans.

To generate conversations, Pfizer covers general healthcare issues such as healthy aging and mental health, honors pioneers in the field of medicine, discusses Pfizer community initiatives, and throws in more lighthearted content with photos from Pfizer’s archives.

When the term “social media” is brought up in segments of the medical industry, terms such as off-label, adverse events, and regulatory concerns are evoked in an attempt to thwart progress. Having been in the device field for 15 years, I absolutely understand the need for governing bodies in this field. This is not to suggest one go around them. What I do suggest is that we look for ways marketing, product development, and regulatory/compliance/legal can partner to make social media possible within a restricted environment. Pfizer has done just that, spelling out guidelines for conversations on its “Content Missing?” tab, and offering users a quick link to information reporting on their “Adverse Events” tab. While pharma and device companies shy away from social, Pfizer has embraced it and devised a simple social formula that has engaged thousands of fans.

Mark Cuban goes along with the crowd

Vote for the Mavs next alternate jersey

Vote for the Mavs next alternate jersey

Until recently, my idea of crowdsourced design included small businesses owners and company logos.  While that’s sometimes the case, entrepreneur Mark Cuban challenged convention by challenging Dallas Maverics fans to come up with an alternate jersey for the 2015-2016 season. Submissions were uploaded to Crowdspring and Mavs.com and ten finalists were picked for voting. Check them out and vote for your favorite here.

Purists content crowdsourced design fosters unfair business practices, and lowers the bar within the design community. I don’t believe crowdsourcing is any more damaging than practices designers have faced for years: underpaid internships and entry-level positions, hours of uncompensated overtime, and employment of designers as full-time contractors. No one goes into design to get rich. We choose design for one reason: because we love it and can’t imagine doing anything else.

Why try crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing allows us to leverage the power of the web to find solutions to problems by connecting us to people we’d otherwise never know. Crowdsourcing can be used to:

  • Access a large online labor force
  • Ask for help finding a solution to a problem
  • Locate and organize information
  • Solicit ideas, opinions, and feedback

Whether you agree or disagree with crowdsourced design, no one can argue about its place on the social web. Cuban’s latest effort may or may not start a trend among larger brands. Either way, the design community must find ways to adapt to the shift brought on by the social web.

Target hits bullseye on Vine

VineTarget’s Summer Up campaign is crossover mix of print, social media, video, and broadcast marketing that stays true to the brand’s persona and their first campaign to use Vine. Target’s presence can be felt across emerging media: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, online, mobile app, and text messaging. With the addition of Vine, six-second shareable, looping video clips, Target seeks to showcase the brand’s quirky, creative image. Three months in, Target’s SummerUp series evokes memories and encourages viewers to make new ones, establishing the brand as a major player on Vine.

One criticism of branded Vines is content created for television broadcast reformatted into a six second clip. As with successful Viners Trident, Lowes, and GE, Target’s content is developed with the Vine in mind. Now that major brands are getting the hang of it, emerging media changes it up again: videos created as Vines are being translated to the big (television) screen. The first brands to do so are Dunkin Donuts, Trident, and Virgin Mobile. Check out Virgin Mobile’s “Vine Winners” TV spot.

What do you think? Can brands turn Vines into TV spots or will it dilute their impact?

Skip Ad? Not in the case of Australia’s missing.

“Skip Ad.” Ask any member of the video-viewing public and they’ll tell you the mention of these two little words make them shudder. However, my faith was restored in pre-rolls this week when I stumbled across the Australian Federal Police’s outstanding Missing Persons pre-roll:

Before its release, police had little more than print flyers to assist in their search of missing persons whose cases had gone cold. This video, by VML Australia and seen on YouTube, geo-targets these individual’s last known location, supporting police in lead development efforts for the continent’s more than 1,600 long-term missing. VML replaced the traditional “Skip Ad” text with “Yes I Have” and “No I Haven’t” buttons answering the question “Have you seen this person?” Public response to the video has been huge: in the first 5 days of its release, the video drew more than 1.2 million views including 238 ‘Yes I Have” clicks. To follow up on potential leads, those clicking ‘Yes’ were directed to a Missing Person Sighting form to submit detailed information.

What better way to use mass media advertising for good? I’ll be following this story and hope this campaign reunites Australia’s missing with their loved ones.

What do you think of this tactic? Will pre-rolls creating public awareness and supporting community efforts will become common?