Adding To The Noise

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


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


One of my favorite bands is Switchfoot and their song “Adding to the Noise” is the inspiration for this blog. When I started it four years ago, there were roughly 200,000 million blogs and I couldn’t imagine why the world would need another one. I even wrote a post  “The Last Thing We Need Is Another Blog.”  Ultimately this question lead me to the debate between quantity versus quality. A recent Michael Stelzner podcast interview featured Jeff Goins, a successful blogger and author who had several blog failures when he was chasing subscribers (quantity focus) until he started a passion blog (quality focus) that now has over 200,000 subscribers.

Today Technorati indexes over 1.3 billion blogs and the focus on quality content has become more important than ever. For marketers this noise has been creeping up in another social landscape – Facebook. In August of 2013 Facebook revealed that “every time someone visits News Feed there are on average 1,500 potential stories … most people don’t have time to see them all.” By December 2013 Ad Age reported “Facebook Admits Organic Reach Is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy Ads.”

The bottom line is that Facebook has changed its algorithm, formerly called Edgerank, and content from business Pages has seen a drop-off in organic reach. In response, Facebook is urging paid distribution for brands to get back into their fan’s News Feeds. Since the tweak some brands have reported as much as a 40% decrease in organic reach.

Facebook Drop Organic Reach

Decrease in organic reach from Edgerank Checker.

In the end, business may have to increase their Facebook spending to maintain or expand reach, but there could be another option. Switchfoot sings, “What’s it going to take to slow us down … If we’re adding to the noise turn off this song.” Perhaps we need another content revolution. If you provide content people want to engage with, not turn off, you will break through the noise. Brands could up their content game to emerge organically from the noise in users’ News Feeds.

But this revolution is fueled by more than quality content. It is also about quality time. Mari Smith, author of Facebook Marketing an Hour a Day suggests that marketers should focus more on community management. The more your fans like, comment and share your content, the more likely that content will show up in their news feeds.

It seems there is room for improvement in the engagement game. Social Bakers provides social media monitoring tools and has been measuring brand’s engagement levels on social networks. Their recent reports indicate that only 10% of brands respond to 85% of questions on Facebook.

Socially Devoted Brands on Facebook and Twitter.

Socially Devoted Brands data by Social Bakers.

A brand that steps up its engagement game could not only protect its organic reach, but also find a significant competitive advantage. We all love when someone listens to us. When your fans hear from you, their excitement will spread along with your reach and reputation.

Ted Rubin calls this a real Return on Relationship. Fight quantity (clutter & filters) with quality (content & engagement). With every post, update and comment ask yourself, “Is it adding something meaningful or simply adding to the noise?”


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


The 2014 Super Bowl is over and even though there wasn’t much plot development in the game, the winning Super Bowl ads knew the power of a good story. As I posted on Saturday “Shakespeare Predicts Super Bowl Commercial Winners” Budweiser’s Puppy Love won USA Today’s Ad Meter voting.

Our two-year analysis of 108 Super Bowl commercials found that dramatic form impacts favorability in advertising rating polls – consumer ratings went up as ads had more acts in a the five-act dramatic form expressed in Freytag’s Pyramid and used by William Shakespeare.

Did story win out this year? Let’s take a look at the top spots in the 2014 Ad Meter results and one at the bottom to see if they have five act dramatic form:

1. “Puppy Love” – Budweiser: This has five acts of story from the inciting moment of the puppy pound, and rising action of a new animal friendship to the climax of Clydesdales surrounding the car, falling action and moment of release when the puppy finds a home.

2. “Cowboy Love” – Doritos: The mom and younger brother win out over the bratty kid in this complete story in five acts.

3. “Hero’s Welcome” – Budweiser: The beer brand delivers another heart felt complete story. The plot in this story heightens knowing it features a real soldier returning from war.

4. “Time Machine” – Doritos: This snack brand has been telling good stories for years with their “Crash the Superbowl” contest. Here the complete story shows how a kid tricks an adult out of his Doritos.

5. “Phone Call” – Radio Shack: This is a story of Radio Shack getting a makeover. A simple story, but the real drama (climax) comes as 1980s stars come in and slowly dismantle the store leading to the falling action and moment of release with the two store employees left alone.

That is the top five, but does story appear in the Super Bowl poll losers? At the bottom of the list we have a Bud Light commercial “Cool Twist.” This Super Bowl ad is 30 seconds of spinning bottle with a voice over talking about the bottle. I see no plot or story development in any acts. Budweiser uses the power of story to earn two top 5 spots, why are they so flat with this effort?

This disparity has happened before. In the first year of our Super Bowl analysis, Budweiser had a top 5 hit with “Clydesdale’s Friend” or “Fence” that leveraged the power of story. However, in the 2010 Super Bowl, Budweiser also had a bottom five spot with Select 55 “World’s Lightest Beer” that simply featured a spinning bottle with an announcer talking about the beer – no story.

It looks like story is the ingredient needed to make Super Bowl ads super. SpotBowl.com voting is still open, polls close at 3:00 p.m. today. People think it’s all about sex or humor or animals, but what we’ve found is that the underbelly of a great commercial is whether it tells a story or not.


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


This year marketers are paying a record $4 million for a :30 second Super Bowl ad to reach a record of over 111.3 million viewers. Yet, for that money it’s not enough, advertisers need their ads to go viral. Knowing what makes a Super Bowl ad buzz worthy is important in this high stakes marketing event. There are a lot of predictions and theories out there, but research my colleague and I conducted found that the underbelly of a great commercial is whether it tells a story or not.

What does William Shakespeare have to do with Super Bowl Commercials? Our two-year analysis of 108 Super Bowl commercials found a significant relationship between dramatic form and favorability in consumer Super Bowl ad rating polls such as USA Today’s Ad Meter and Spotbowl.com. The research pulls from Aristotle’s Poetics and “Freytag’s Pyramid” five act plot structure popularized by dramatist such as Shakespeare to reveal the power of story.

Super Bowl Ads, Super Bowl Bowl Commercials, Super Bowl XLVIII, USA Today Ad Meter, Spotbowl.com, Freytag's Pyramid, Shakespeare, Dramatic Form, 5-Acts

A 5-Act Story Following Freytag’s Pyramid is The Secret to Super Bowl Ad Success.

According to Freytag, a drama is divided into five parts called acts, and these acts combine to form a dramatic arc: Inciting Moment, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Moment of Release. We found that consumer ratings were significantly higher for commercials that follow a full five-act dramatic form compared to commercials that did not. Additionally, the more acts commercials had (3 versus 2) the higher the ratings.

Based on this analysis and advancement of narrative theory, my prediction for this year’s Super Bowl ad winner will be Budweiser’s Puppy Love. Viewers favor ads with dramatic plot lines. Plot is what Aristotle emphasized in Poetics as early as 335 BC.

The power of story has already drawn 30 million views on YouTube and significant press coverage for “Budweiser Super Bowl XLVIII Commercial — ‘Puppy Love'” two days before the actual game and official airing of the spot.

“What Makes A Super Bowl Ad Super for Word-of-Mouth Buzz?: Five-Act Dramatic Form Impacts Super Bowl Ad Ratings” is being published Fall 2014 in the Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice. The more complete a story marketers tell in their commercials the higher it performs in the ratings polls, the more people like it, want to view it, and share it.

What are your predictions for Sunday’s Super Bowl ad winners?

Keith Quesenberry