AmEx Flexes Social Media Muscle

American Express is a credit card company on a social media mission.  In addition to having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, the company makes sure that they are actually providing their customers  with relevant and exciting promotions/incentives.  The key to making a social network successful, is not only being present but creating buzz, and a platform that people actually use/want your promotions.  Below are 3 key ways that Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships and development at American Express, believes the company is effectively using the social media space.

  1. A Customer Service Foundation – AmEx entered the social media scene in 2009 with a presence on Twitter and Facebook.  These initial handles and pages focused on servicing the card members and merchants effectively and with ease.  This service strategy has improved engagement with its consumers and clients and has also allowed the company to improve its implementation strategies based on user feedback.
  2. Couponless Deals Galore – AmEx knows that in today’s economy everyone loves a deal.  They have become the the master of the couponless deal in the social media space.  By simply syncing your card with Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, users are able to get deals for qualifying purchases just by clicking a link, no coupon or code necessary.  Another key addition to the company’s already robust Twitter strategy, is the ability for cardholders to tweet strategic hashtags in order to load deals onto their cards, i.e. “#AmexWholeFoods, for example, a cardholder receives a $20 statement credit when he or she purchases $75 or more at Whole Foods using his or her synced card.”
  3. A Corporate Culture Transformation – AmEx is embracing the opportunities that social media presents and they are running with those opportunities.  The company began their social media journey with keeping clients happy and solving their problems, and they are now leading their category with their innovative uses for the platforms.

For more information, read the full article at: http://mashable.com/2012/03/28/american-express-social-media/

Happy Hunger Games

It’s no surprise that the Hunger Games film took top spot at the box office this weekend.  Lionsgate projects the film broke $155 million in its opening weekend, a record for the studio, for a non-sequel, for March, and the 3rd-best weekend of all time. So who and what advertising strategy is to thank for this amazing showing? A start-up – thismoment.com.

It’s hard to believe a start-up could be behind the campaign and success of The Hunger Games, but it’s true.  TM or thismoment.com started their social media program back in June 2011.  They tapped YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to begin promoting the film through colorful, engaging videos about the characters.  They also used youth-oriented sites like MTV and MTV’s Facebook page to engage kids and get them talking and starting a conversation about the film.  Fans were/are encouraged to submit videos regarding their love for the movie, which then gets friends of friends excited and the social movement grows.  TM’s social media strategy paid off and allowed the Hunger Games to have their fans do most of their social marketing for them.  It’s quite a success story for a film that had an $80 million production budget, and a $45 million marketing budget (which is small compared the the $100 million normally spend on blockbuster films).

Additionally, here are a few marketing tactics that are also attributed to the Hunger Games success:

  • 18.1 million views on Capitol TV’s YouTube Channel
  • 8 million views of the premiere trailer within the first 24 hours of the iTunes release
  • Over 2.9 million people have liked The Hunger Games official Facebook page. Fans are up 215% since the beginning of the year, according to data compiled from The Hunger Games Movie page.
  • 800,000 people have created personalized digital ID cards saying they live in the film’s futuristic world, Panem
  • 379,673 and counting follow @TheHungerGames on Twitter (3/26/12)
  • 80,000 free posters handed out
  • 3,000 billboards and bus shelters
  • 50 websites took part in a ticket giveaway
  • 100: The number of puzzle pieces a promotional poster was broken into as a PR stunt. Fans had to find all of the puzzle pieces, scattered among 100 different sites, before uploading a final picture of the completed jigsaw
  • 12 shades of nail polish sold by China Glaze were aptly named for the film
  • 8 trailers and TV spots

Did you see the movie? What did our Rox readers think of the film and its marketing and social marketing?

Happy Hunger Games Everyone!

Lessons From Chipotle: Remaining Loyal To Low Marketing Budget

Chipotle is somewhat of an enigma.  How does a now household restaurant chain name with more than 1,200 stores, 1.7 million social media fans create so much buzz without an onslaught of traditional marketing?

It’s something that Chipotle prides itself on, keeping loyal to its simple goal of “changing the way people think about their food,” while not spending millions on traditional advertising and channeling their energy and resources into grassroots initiatives.  Here is a sneak peek into Chipotle’s social media efforts, with a few highlights from Mashable’s interview with Chipotle’s New Media Manager, Joe Stupp:

  1. One-on-One Conversation – Chipotle is very loyal to its one-on-one engagement model for its social media platforms, in fact the company responds to 83% of its Facebook posts and about 90% of its Twitter activity.  The 3-person response team makes it a point to get to know their customers, by having genuine conversations with them and not simply chasing metrics.
  2. Creative Content – The company does not like producing boring content, so if you are looking for dry press releases, you may be out of luck.  The company made a bit of a splash during the Grammy Awards when they launched their first (and only) tv ad, an animated film called “Back to the Start,” which reinforces the company’s core philosophy of getting people to think about where their food comes from.  Additionally, the company launched a YouTube video “Abandoned,” in which they “spotlight on the impact of industrialization on family farms and, again, initiated public conversation on a relevant issue.”  Keeping content creative is a key to engaging with their community.
  3. Community-Driven Initiatives – Chipotle is very passionate about creating tangible online and offline promotions that “reinforce its commitment to supporting family farmers and educating people about food.”  This is done through their Halloween “Boo-rito” contest and subsequently the newest dress up as a family farm animal and you can buy a burrito for $2, where the $2 actually goes towards FarmAid.  Also through the new Chipotle Cultivate Music Festival in Chicago, where food, farmers, chefs and musicians are all together to feature responsibly-grown dishes and educational opportunities about sustainable farming and treatment of animals.  Lastly, the company recently launched “Farm Team,” which is an online initiative that rewards people for exploring the website, watching videos, taking polls and sharing their farming practice knowledge with others in their social network.  Participants are rewarded with food, t-shirts and other prizes.

So, what’s next for the company? Honestly, Stupp says more of the same.  The focus on individual conversations and community education initiatives are core to the company and will not waiver as the brand grows.

For the full article, go to: http://mashable.com/2012/03/21/chipotle-social-media/

Dongle Wars

Fresh on the heels of PayPal’s ‘Here’ dongle announcement, Intuit’s GoPayment application has some news of it’s own. The GoPayment mobile application will be releasing updates today that allow US based fundraisers to easily accept credit card donations directly from a smart phone or tablet.

This announcement and venture also suspiciously follows Square’s partnership announcement with the Obama and Romney fundraising camps. Square will be providing each organization with dongles that allow their teams to accept donations wherever, whenever. But GoPayment’s donation upgrades are boasting that they do not require customization or the creation of a new app, per the “Obama Square App,” and it’s use isn’t limited to the presidential election either. All users will have to do is install the upgraded software and then switch the app into donor mode when they make a donation. They can then just as easily flip the switch and go back to normal mobile payment mode.

Additionally, since Intuit is the company behind the very successful Quickbooks, Mint and TurboTax financial programs, the back-end of their app will be very user/business friendly. The GoPayment app will easily allow each user to input their donations from the year into Intuit’s financial software, so that small businesses and donation based organizations can easily keep track of their finances. A big win for this mobile service that neither Square or PayPal Here can offer yet.

For more information, check out: http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2012/03/intuit-gopayment-mobile-donations/

Which program or dongle do you use for your business? We would love to get Rox readers pros and/or cons with their dongle experiences!

Update: PayPal Launches Mobile Payment Dongle – “PayPal Here”

PayPal is taking on Square in the mobile payment space.  PayPal’s new mobile payment dongle, PayPal Here, is shaped like a triangle and functions similarly to Square, Intuit’s GoPayment and Veritone’s PAYware.  Using the dongle to swipe credit cards directly from a user’s smartphone is an up and coming space with few large players.

“PayPal charges a fee of 2.7 percent of the purchase price for all types of credit and debit cards — including those issued by American Express Co; transaction fees for processing AmEx cards are often higher on other services. That compares with the 2.75 percent charged by Square.”

This venture into offline mobile payments is in line with PayPal’s recent moves.   In November, the company “announced PayPal Wallet, a card that lets consumers pay from multiple accounts, store and use gift cards, access special offers and store receipts,” which is expected to roll out this year.  PayPal is also moving some of its business in-store.  The company has recently partnered with Home Depot to integrate “PayPal software into existing point-of-sale terminals so users can pay either by swiping a PayPal pre-paid card or by entering in their phone number and PIN, which connects to their account.”

PayPal’s mobile dongle will be taking on Square, which specializes in small business-based mobile payment solutions.  Square is currently processing $4 billion worth of payments and has 1 million small business customers.  The product is also working on new areas of commerce, which includes New York taxis.

Here is an updated link with more details following today’s official product announcement: http://gigaom.com/2012/03/15/how-paypal-here-could-lay-the-hurt-on-square-and-others/

paypal-here1

PayPal Competitor: Square

SXSW Trends

The annual South by Southwest conference is the place to find out about the new, intriguing and fabulous technologies hitting the market.  This five day conference includes over 900 keynotes, panels and workshops.  Here are Adweek’s 5 trends that are worth paying attention to:

  1. Social Discovery/Ambient Awareness – There are a handful of startups, such as Sonar, Highlight, Glancee, Banjo and Kismet, that launched or upgraded just in time for SXSW.  These apps aim to help people with similar interests find each other and make this annual event’s networking easy and robust.
  2. Social TV – People love talking about TV almost as much as they love to watch it (can we say ‘The Bachelor’?).  Social TV was discussed last year but this year it is being brought to everyone’s attention again, to see how the big brands and networks plan on working together to make TV more social and perhaps profitable.
  3. Big Data – People will definitely be discussing how to “use metrics and analytics to achieve business goals and improve marketing campaigns.”  This year the discussion will also include how to use data to track and monitor your personal health and fitness programs.
  4. Beautifying the Web, of course includes Pinterest, but there are other start ups that are trying to make the web a prettier place, AOL’s About.me, Path, Instagram and even Facebook’s new Timeline.  These start ups help individuals express themselves in a bold, beautiful and gorgeous way.
  5. Marketing Meets Tech – It’s hard to believe that Twitter hit the SXSW market in 2007, and only a few years later Foursquare was the talk of the town.  Ad agencies attendance has increased tenfold between 2009-2011, which is a testament to the strength of this conference and the hope that the newest and “can’t live without” technology might be discovered and thrust into our lives in the next week.

For more information, check out the full article: http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/heading-sxsw-5-trends-watch-138805

Getting To Know Google Play

Google is unifying its digital media services with Google Play.  Google Play combines Google Music, Books, Movies, and Apps into one place.  Here are 5 things you need to know about this service (even if you are not an Android user).

  1. Combining Google Music, Books, Movies and Apps can all be done from play.google.com and then will all be stored in the cloud.  Your web and mobile devices stay synced, which is great.
  2. The site is already live online and is quickly coming to Android phones.  There will be four app updates within the next few days, so Android users get ready.
  3. Google Music, which is now becoming Play Music, already allows users to store up to 20,000 songs, no matter if you’ve already purchased and uploaded them.  Movies are another story, as the Play Movies app only acts as a movie rental service and does not allow you to upload your own movies.
  4. Any Google user can use these Play services!  Though Android users will benefit the most, if you have a Gmail account you can still take advantage of the cloud-based content management service.
  5. Google Play’s cloud-based nature will not kill your data plan.  Books, movies and music are all able to be accessed “offline.”

For more information, check out this great article: http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57391700-285/five-things-you-may-not-know-about-google-play/

Facebook Timeline for Businesses

Facebook’s new Timeline format will be mandatory for all businesses within the month.  In order to get the most out of this new format, Mashable has put together 6 tips that will make the changes most beneficial for your brand.

  1. Updated Look and Feel – The Timeline feature uses a new Cover Photo and the page is separated into two main columns.  The format is great for companies to outline their corporate history and construct a narrative for their audience.  Through Mashable’s research, they’ve found that brands who show behind-the-scenes activities, exclusive updates and or promotions, translate into higher engagement rates.
  2. Reduced Tab Visibility – The left-side panel of links is no longer with the new format, which means that applications that were highlighted before are now displayed differently – in rectangular panels underneath the cover photo.  The catch is that only 3 are visible at a time now, so make sure your three most important now take up that real estate as users will have to do a lot of clicking through to access the other ones.
  3. No Default Landing Page means that brands no longer have control over the users “first impression” when they visit the Timeline Page.  Companies will have to stay very aware of what the first few postings on their page are and will have to monitor their page more carefully.
  4. New Way To Feature Content – The ability for marketers to “pin” certain posts to the top of the Timeline will make the content more “sticky.”  A pinned post remains at the top of the page for a specific amount of time and features an orange flag (which will make it known to users).  The catch is that brands can only pin one item at a time.  But this is a great feature and can be used to the brand’s advantage, since the default landing page was taken away.
  5. Current Tab Content and Applications Become Outdated – The new page configuration is now a 810-pixel width, which replaces the previous 520-pixel width, so brands should make changes to their creative in order to make the most out of their page.  Additionally, all applications on the brand’s page will need new icons that are 111 x 74.
  6. Private Messages Between Brands and Users – Brands will finally be able to send private messages to users, allowing deeper consumer interaction.

For more information about these changes, along with Mashable’s recommendations, go to: mashable.com/2012/02/29/facebook-brand-timelines-changes-marketing/