Adding To The Noise

A critical view of new media, new technology and new marketing.


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Upcycling Content: Four Ideas To Repurpose Existing Resources For Social Media Updates.


Upcycling isn’t just for crafts or Pinterest. It is simply a concept where old products are given more value. Upcycling in social media it is a way to optimize your time and effort.

Embed from Getty Images

Startup R3DNA recovers leather from salvaged luxury cars to be repurposed into bags, iPad covers and leather jackets.

Here are four ways you can reuse and repurpose for social media content:

1. Underutilized parts of your website. Are there valuable parts of your website that if you are honest with yourself no one really uses? Today people want content brought to them.

I used to work for a bank that had an excellent small business toolkit. It was valuable information from finance and HR to marketing tips. The problem was no one used it because they didn’t know it was there. How often do you surf your bank or other banks websites?

Our idea was to divide the long form website content into short chunks and push it out as small business tips on social media. Upcycling already created content to social can build awareness and drive traffic to the website, but it also helps build relationships in social media.

What valuable information is on your website or hidden in a brochure sitting on a shelf that you could repackage as valuable social media content?

2. Play By Play Of Live Events. Public Relations professionals have used events as a powerful publicity tool since the last century. Today you can multiply that power by bringing the event to many more than can attend in person.

For a regional airport client we planned a live contest where two local radio DJ’s flew to Chicago and back in one day. One took a flight from our local airport and the other took a flight from the farther big city airport. We demonstrated that you could save money, distance and time flying from our client’s airport when most people thought it was too expensive.

The airport received enormous buzz online as we updated Facebook, Twitter and UStream videos of each DJs progress. The event would have been successful with just the live reports on the radio, but Upcycling the live traditional media content to social media upped the awareness.

Do you have a live event coming up where you could up the exposure by reporting it on social media channels?

3. B-Roll Video And Photos. Producing a TV Commercial can take up to month and cost a lot of money. The average 30 second spot cost $350K. During a day long shoot you collect a lot of footage that doesn’t make the 30 second final cut.

Why not leverage extra footage as social content? A director’s cut, alternative version, or “making of” video can really draw fans. We all love to get a look behind the scenes. You could also share still photos online during the shoot via Instagram, Pinterst or another photo site for a sneak peak.

Either way you get more for your investment by upcycling video and photo content being produced for other uses. For more engagement you could even post different versions of the TV ad and have your fans vote on the final cut.

Do you have a TV or video shoot coming up that you can leverage as social media content? What about a still photo shoot?

4. Front Line Employees. Remember the small business tips for the bank example above? Our second idea was to empower branch managers to send out the small business tips via their LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts as a way to generate leads for new accounts.

These managers were tasked with signing up new business accounts anyway. Why not give them another tool besides cold calls and post cards?

Unfortunately their response was that they blocked access to social media in the offices for employees. Some upcycling requires an open mind and may require some new guidelines such as an employee social media policy.

Is there a way you can upcycle your employees? Best Buy leverages their blue shirt in-store associates’ knowledge and down time to answer people’s tech questions on Twitter building awareness and goodwill for the brand.

Can you think of other ways to upcycle existing efforts into fresh social media content?

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Big Data Can’t Create. 5 Step Creative Formula For Big Ideas in Social Media.


Everyone seems to be talking about big data. And for good reason. Knowing which content is driving more conversion is important, but analytics can’t write and there’s still no app for a big idea.

A simple Google search on the term “Big Data” reveals 2 billion results while a Google search for “Creativity” only brings back 60 million results. Nearly 50% more attention is being devoted to data, but I say half of social success depends on creativity built on top of and verified by good data. Not a direct measure but research has proven that 65% of TV ROI is attributable to the creative and 35% to the media data. 

Big ideas drive social action.

Knowing humor is a common characteristic of viral videos doesn’t create the video.  A list of high performing key words doesn’t simply form into a good piece of content. Both need a creator.

Yet, you don’t need to be Picasso or da Vinci to be creative. Knowing the creative formula can help you be more creative. I was surprised that there is a formula or process to creativity until I read A Technique for Producing Ideas. by James Young Webb with a forward by Bill Bernbach. Then I discovered that as an advertising creative I followed this technique naturally.

Production of ideas follows a definite and necessary process. The formula is so simple  that few believe it. As Young Webb said, “While simple to state, it actually requires the hardest kind of intellectual work to follow, so that not all who accept it use it.”

What is the creative formula? 

Step 1: Gather Raw Materials – Both the materials of your immediate problem and the materials of your general knowledge. Gather research on your company, competitors, target audience, but also general knowledge about life and current trends.

Step 2: Mental Digestion – The working over of these materials in your mind. Try all these pieces of information together this way and that. Bring two facts together and see how they fit – look for a relationship.

Step 3: Incubation – Here you let something beside the conscious mind do the work of synthesis. Make no effort of a direct nature. Drop the whole subject, and put the problem out of your mind. Go see a movie, play basketball, work on another project.

Step 4: Eureka Effect – The actual birth of the Idea – the “Eureka! I have it” stage. This tends to come when you least expect it. In the shower, in the middle of the night, on a run. Always be prepared to write it down. Big ideas are fleeting and can leave just as quickly as they came.

Step 5: Final Finessing – The final shaping and development of this idea to practical usefulness. Take your idea out into the world of reality. Here you may need to adjust it and make it fit the company, product, target, social channel, etc.

In my experience, the process would get short changed by deadlines, and expectations of those who believed writing is simply sitting down and typing. I never sat down to type until I first had an idea. When you have an idea the ad, plan, paper, story, book, almost writes itself.  If you skip the incubation stage, you miss out on really brilliant big ideas.

Everyone has creativity, but sadly most of us left it behind with childhood …


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Social Media: A Post-Control World


One of the main things I have learned working through the digital and now social media revolutions is that the truth, transparency and power of social media requires a fundamental shift in thinking for the marketing, advertising and PR profession.

Social Media Marketing

If we truly want to control brand communication today, we must be willing to give up control. Not an easy thing for human nature and professional disciplines that are taught and practiced in the very opposite manner. Pick up any Principles of Marketing, Advertising or Public Relations text and you will find the same – methods, strategies, and processes all designed to control the message.

Even with the advancement of the new discipline of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) all brand communication is attempted to be controlled an put into one unifying message across consumer touchpoints to combat advertising clutter and loss of mass media audience.

Maybe that is why so many marketers continue to shift resources to social media, yet admit they don’t know how to integrate social into their traditional efforts. But the consumer revolution is happening and consumers now have the influence of mass audience. When word of mouth gets super charged with social media, perhaps traditional is no longer an appropriate base from which to start.

As Seth Godin says, “Your consumers are talking about you whether you like it or not.”

Perhaps we are all looking at this from the wrong perspective. We shouldn’t be figuring out how to compartmentalize social media as a nice little addition to our current marketing efforts. Social is much bigger than that. Instead we should begin with social media and figure out ways we can integrate the consumer’s voice across the discipline silos of advertising, PR, and Digital and across the business unit silos of marketing, operations, R&D, customer service, etc.

Whether we like it or not we now live in a Post-Control Marketing world, a post Four P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) where our brands are no longer our own. Today we need to build brands around the consumer and the Four C’s of Consumer, Costs, Convenience, and Communication. This may seem like a small difference but as Carol Dweck has taught us, Mindset can make all the difference in the world.

A funny thing happens when you give up control, your product and service becomes better. Your customers help you create the products they want, the communications they’re interested in, freely share your brand messages and help you improve your service. Everyone gets more of what they want. The consumer is no longer a target to be conquered, but a business partner for mutual benefit. And in the end you meet and exceed the marketing and business objectives you wanted in the first place.

Are you ready for Post-Control Marketing? Do you know how to integrate social media for the consumer revolution?


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100 Insights For New Media Marketing


For my 100th post on this blog, I thought I would share all 100 insights in one place. Each listing is a link back to the original post.

Social Media Marketing Tips

100 Insights For New Media Marketing:

1. Is New Media Killing Traditional Media’s Star?

2. Are Bloggers More Sensitive To Spin?

3. Technology Makes Us Dumber, Less Productive And Stressed Out

4. Which Advertising Medium Is best?

5. Can Direct Response Be Creative?

6. Toyota Apology-athon

7. Why Does New Media Matter? Because United Breaks Guitars

8. The Last Thing We Need Is Another Blog

9. Walk A Mile In Zappos’ New Media Shoes

10. Tu Voz Rings True For Minority Marketing

11. More Information On Information Overload

12. Does Copy Matter Less On The Web?

13. Can The iPad Save My Newspaper?

14. Are You Ready For A Content Revolution?

15. Somebody’s Watching Me

16. Is There A Creative Process?

17. Is All Buzz Good And Cheap?

18. Brand Extensions Achieve MAXIMum Failure

19. Speak Softly And Carry A Big Marketing Stick

20. Is Facebook’s Privacy Policy Friend or Foe?

21. BP Can’t Get Beyond Petroleum

22. Are Mobile Ads Still Annoying?

23. Are Intellectual Property Rights Wrong?

24. EBSCO, Forbes, Time Open The Digital Divide

25. Yahoo Cheers Associated Content Acquisition–Society Jeers

26. Can Millennials Save Us Through Cause Marketing?

27. Creativity Beats Media In TV ROI

28. GM Recall Recalls Past PR Crises

29. Cause Marketing Or Crisis Response?

30. US Census: Bad Ads But Great Information

31. Where Is The Star Power In The Gulf Clean Up?

32. Cause Marketing’s Future Is Engagement Through Social Media

33. Churchill, TED And New Marketing

34. Blah, Blah, Blog: Why Companies Should Listen

35. Online Research: Temptations and Limitations

36. Does .005% Make A Difference? Ask Toyota

37. Can Marketing Statistics Improve Your NFL Team?

38. Celebrity, Media Outreach And Events Oh My!

39. Cable TV Decline: Media Planning Gets Tougher

40. Failed Test? Try An Ethnographic Study

41. Do We All Need Twitter Editors?

42. The Press Release, Blogger Outreach And SEO

43. New Media Needs A New Name

44. Public Relations Challenges For Non-profits

45. Three Is The Magic Number

46. Corporate Communications, Marketing, IMC, PR and Advertising. What’s the difference?

47. Which Social Media Conversation Are You Joining?

48. Earth Day PSA 2.0

49. Click Here: Digital Call To Actions

50. Measuring Print Response 2.0

51. Visual Continuity in Print And Digital

52. Brand Equity: Tangible Assets Are A Small Part Today’s Brand Value

53. Do You Have Social Media Fatigue?

54. Which Came First The Product Or Value?

55. Ride The Cluetrain To Five Easy Pieces: New Marketing Strategy For A New Digital Market

56. The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned in Marketing and Advertising

57. Social Media Is A Big Idea For Small Business

58. Cause Marketing to Boost Startups and Small Business

59. As Smartphone Ownership Crosses 50% And Mobile Ad Spending Jumps 80% Keep 3 Key Measures In Mind

60. Search Gets Social

61. A Dead Guy Is Following Me On Twitter: Signs Social Media Is Taking Over

62. Visual Continuity: Is It Always A Good Strategy?

63. Big Ideas And Big Results Don’t Need Big Budgets

64. Afraid of Digital? History Says Run To It, Not Away

65. Savages Movie Written With Fragment Digital Media In Mind

66. A Social Media Experiment: TDI Club Forum

67. Hallucinations Aren’t Contagious, But Social Media Is Real For Many Business Functions

68. Do You Look For Wrongs Or Rights? Stop Social Media Excuses

69. “Like” Is More Than A Facebook Icon

70. Forrester: Facebook and Twitter Do Almost Nothing for Sales

71. Communications: The Language That Drives Revenue

72. Brand Engagement Through The “Martydom Effect”

73. Super Bowl Ads: A Unique Opportunity for Undivided Attention

74. Fear Means Go: Stretch Yourself For Social Media Success

75. Successful Entrepreneurs Make Mistakes To Discover New Approaches, Opportunities And Business Models

76. What Do We Do With Out-Of-Date Advertising Professors?

77. Gen-Y Honda Student Campaign Gets Results With This Gen-Xer

78. A Text For That? App Hype Shouldn’t Discount Text Marketing

79. Trouble Harnessing Social Media? Relationships Can’t Be Automated

80. Can Retail Make Room For Showrooming?

81. There Are No Top 10 Best Rules for Social Media Marketing

82. Has PR Become An Unsustainable 24/7 Profession: Do We Really Need Social Media Mission Control Centers?

83. Do You Have To Be Active On Social Media? Do You Like Being Invited To A Party And Being Ignored?

84. Filling The Digital Marketing Gap 19 Students At A Time

85. Mom’s Don’t Tweet But They Do Watch The Voice And #VoiceSave Through Their Teens

86. The 12 Ways of Brand Community Value: My Year End Social Media Tips List

87. Research Says Add New Media, But Don’t Drop The Old: Study Of Over 400 Successful Marketing Campaigns

88. What Is Your Social Media BFF? 42% Of Adults Now Use Multiple Social Sites

89. Shakespeare Predicts Super Bowl Commercial Winners: Research Shows Sex And Humor Aren’t The Key, It’s Story

90. USA Today Ad Meter Super Bowl Results: Story Wins With Puppy Love And Others!

91. If You’re Simply Adding To The Noise, Facebook Will Now Turn Off Your Organic Reach

92. Airline Industry Has Highest Response Rate On Twitter And Facebook. What About In Winter Storm Pax?

93. Irony: Sharing Social Media About Spending Less Time On Social Media

94. 5 Ways Social Media Can Fuel Startup Success

95. 24 Hour Rule: What Harry S. Truman Can Teach Us About Social Media

96. Advertising Campaigns Are Dead: Brand Story Is The New Big Idea

97. Star Bellied Sneeches: Social Media Badges Can Save Companies Billions

98. Return On Relationship: Thanks Ted For Living It

99. Behind Amazon’s Pay To Quit Program: Happy Employees + Social Media = Real Value

100. 100 Tips For New Media Marketing


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Star Bellied Sneeches: Social Media Badges Can Save Companies Billions


If you have never read Dr. Seuss’ book, The Sneeches, it is definitely worth your time. In this kids book we get adult insight into human behavior. The Sneeches with stars on their bellies are special you see. They were better than the plain belly sort and had parties and picnics the others were left out. A simple thing such as a star can make such a difference, which brings me to support forums and idea communities. What will people do for a star?

Ideastorm, Dell, support forum, crowdsource, customer support, social media, Groundswell, Forrester

Li & Bernoff’s Groundswell tells us that the average call to a company’s call center costs $6-$7. Technical support calls are $10-$20. Way back in the early 2000’s TiVo noticed a consumer run TiVo Community Forum on the web. With no help from the company over 130,000 TiVo owners were solving each other’s problems. One user named “jsmeeker” had posted 44,000 times in 6 years.

Other company’s like Dell have started their own community support forums. Dell has been more intentional and is reaping the rewards. One user named “Predator” had posted 20,000 times answering tech support questions that were viewed over 2 million times. Considering the cost of call centers, this one customer saved Dell over a billion dollars in support costs. Dell wants to encourage more customers like this and has implemented a reward system so the most active members can earn their stars.

Dell Community Rockstars are nominated for their exceptional technical skills and willingness to help others. They also show leadership in the Dell community. What do they get? A star of course. The fancy star badge below. To be fair they also get some additional privileges and benefits including online and offline events and get to evaluate new products and services before others.

Ideastorm, Dell, support forum, crowdsource, customer support, social media

Dell community members give thousands of ideas and tech support for this star.

What else will someone do for a star? Help with new product development. Dell has also launched IdeaStorm to leverage the wisdom of the crowd to improve their products and services. IdeaStorm simply collects customer ideas in multiple categories from products to advertising and then the same customers vote on the ideas to help Dell identify the most promising. Since 2006, people have freely submitted over 20,000 ideas and nearly 550 have been implemented. What do they get in return? Points, votes and you guessed it, a star. Dell Rockstar badges also appear in IdeaStorm.

This is all well and good, but you may be saying to yourself, “Dell is a huge, well liked company. Of course, people want to contribute to them.” Don’t forget that Dell has not always been a well liked company. In fact, it used to be referred to as “Dell Hell” and is known for not listening to its customers as called out by Jeff Jarvis in his now famous “Dell sucks” blog post. The support forum and idea community are actually what helped Dell regain its customers.

Ideastorm, Dell, support forum, crowdsource, customer support, social mediaAs customer support moves further away from the phone lines, it’s become easier for frustrated customers to express that frustration publicly on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. As a result, more and more brand customer support forums are popping up. In fact, Forrester research has found a 25% increase in customer service community usage in the past three years. For the brands that embrace this change, customer service can move from cost center to a differentiator.

What can you do? Fire Pole Marketing says launch a brand community and give them something to display. They say, “Provide them with a plaque, certificate or similar item. Simple things like online badges or a certificate work wonders.” I agree and I suggest you use a star.

Can customer support and idea communities be a star in your company?


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Advertising Campaigns Are Dead: Brand Story Is The New Big Idea


Story, Big Idea, Social Media, Brand, Advertising, Campaign

The days of finite single author stories are gone like the typewriter.

When working as a creative in the advertising business we were obsessed with finding the Big Idea. We wanted that great campaign with the clever tagline that everyone would talk about, hand awards to, and of course make the cash register ring. This catch phrase was even turned into the CNBC talk show The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.

The big idea was about running 6 month or annual advertising campaigns with three print ads, a radio spot, some banner ads and a couple billboards, etc. Soon enough the ad agency or brand manager or CEO would grow tired of the campaign and we would step up to bat and try to hit another one out of the park. Big ideas were tidy mini stories told in a series of well crafted and finely controlled media executions. And stories in advertising are powerful as my recent research on Super Bowl ads has proven.

Advertising Campaign

I crafted and honed this tidy three poster advertising campaign until it won two One Show Gold Pencils.

We were creating integrated campaigns with digital and social media, but social wasn’t as mainstream as it is today. As of September 2013, 73% of online adults use social networking sites. Fully 40% of cell phone owners use a social networking site on their phone.

Because social media is so big today I think the big idea has to be different. In social media there are so many individual executions being created daily, by brands and their consumers, we need a brand story that doesn’t start or end, but evolves and is co-created over time through interaction with customers.

But to do this you need to know what that core story is first and have a solid social media policy in place, because you will have more than one brand story teller versus the traditional advertising copywriter and art director. Now we engage our customers in conversation. John Miller hit upon this in a recent Inc. article.

Social Media, Marketing, Story, Brand

Later I would craft stories on the fly to react to comments or leverage current trends.

What do you think? Is the traditional advertising campaign idea dead? Don’t get me wrong, you still need a big idea and creativity. It’s just not such a tidy process. In a way, your ideas must be even bigger and more flexible to include trends and consumer comments and content.

In terms of social media and story telling, brands need to get out of the campaign mindset and start living out a bigger story on a daily basis.


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Irony: Sharing Social Media About Spending Less Time On Social Media.


This Semester I started requiring students in my Social Media Marketing class to tweet to our course hashtag #SocialMedia453 as a small part of their class participation grade. This makes sense right? One of the best ways to learn social media marketing is to be active in social media. A couple years ago a professor based 20% of his student’s grades on how many points their Klout score went up – I’m sure the profs own Klout score went up over the publicity it got him.

Irony, Social Media, Addiction, MarketingMy students are sharing good insights into marketing via social media. But what I’ve also found is they are sharing content such as Coke’s “Social Media Guard” video, which is a cone for humans to get them to look up from their devices and off social media.

Another student has shared an article “I’ve seen the future in Singapore, and I have basically stopped using the social media.” This is a great article, but it basically talks about someone quitting social media after seeing people in Singapore constantly on their devices.

Then there is the social media professional who’s blog I subscribe to and podcast I listen to, who started a new blog designed to get families off their devices and spend more time with kids in physical activities – My Kids’ Adventures.

Quit Social Media, Kids

Can social media be an addiction? A new Harvard study shows that the act of disclosing information about oneself activates the same part of the brain associated with the pleasure we get from food, money or even sex. Perhaps we have gone overboard. A Google search on the words “Quitting Social Media” reveals 6.4 million results including top hits from Huffingtonpost, Fortune, and Forbes on why a writer quit and/or why you should quit social media.

What’s the lesson here? Quit social media? Perhaps. But from a marketing perspective it just works too darn well. And from a personal level we do learn a lot and are able to connect with people and express ourselves in ways never before possible. Perhaps we all simply need to find a little more balance.

Put the phone down for 5 minutes, an hour, dare I say three? Look your significant other in the eye. Play a board game with your kids. Enjoy a sunny afternoon by actually looking at the sky. See the beautiful Johns Hopkins University campus in my header picture above? Too often I don’t enjoy it because my head is buried in my iPhone.

Take a rest for a couple hours or even a Saturday or Sunday. The updates, likes, shares, favorites will be waiting for you when you return. And perhaps using social media to pass this message along isn’t so ironic after all. We are the people with our faces buried in our devices that need to hear the message.

Or read a book. A real couple hundred pages book. I read Nicholas Carr’s book “The Shallows” last summer, where he talks about research that says the Internet is changing the physical structure of our brains reducing our attention spans.

Do you spend too much time on social media? Is going cold turkey the only solution?

Nicholas Carr, The Shallows, Internet