Words, words, words.

2 Sep

I wish I was fearless. I wish I was the type of person who wasn’t afraid of embarrassing themselves. I wish…

There’s this psychological phenomenon called negativity bias, which I learned about in my marketing class. It basically means that humans have a greater ability to recall moments and experiences which were unpleasant or left a negative impact in their mind. It also states that one negative experience greatly outweighs multiple positive ones.

In the past four years I have: graduated from a top university with a bachelors degree, went on to get two masters degrees, worked with some of the top brands and agencies in the country, and moved to a new state. However, despite all those good things, I find myself doubting my abilities because of one bad experience. Although I don’t know if I will truly get over this experience, I do know that I am stronger for it, or at least I will be. I also know that I have a lot to offer, I just need the chance to prove it.

When brands on social media fail at customer service

19 Aug

Last night I had the pleasure of going to my first NFL game. Although it wasn’t a pleasure. And I didn’t go. Let me explain.

My sister and I were excited to go to our first ever NFL game. Although we are not Redskins fans, the tickets were inexpensive, and we figured, “why not?” So, we got tickets, and decided to meet at FedEx Field. The email I got from StubHub said to bring a small bag, so I brought the smallest bag I own (pictured below, with all contents of the bag).

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After printing out my ticket, taking the 45 minute metro ride, and walking the mile from the metro to FedEx Field, I was informed by security that my bag was too big to enter. Apparently, the largest a bag can be is 4.5in by 6.5in, which is barely bigger than an index card. My bag (pictured) is 6.25in by 6in. Also, according to NFL policy, you are allowed to bring in a 1 gallon plastic bag. Despite the fact that my bag could fit inside the plastic bag easily, I was still not allowed inside FedEx Field.

Think about this logically: it’s a Monday night, and plenty of people are probably coming from work, including women, who (surprise!) also like football. What can you seriously fit inside an index sized clutch if you’re coming from work? A wallet? Sure. Phone? Maybe. But what about keys? Am I expected to put those into my pocket?

Immediately after being told I was not allowed into the stadium, I started tweeting about the ridiculous and absurd bag policy. On top of my horrible experience at FedEx Field, I never received any response from either the NFL or the Redskins via social media. As one of the most followed brands on social media, with over 7 million twitter followers, I’m astounded that no one on either the NFL or Redskin’s social media team monitored or flagged this sort of activity as important enough to respond to. It makes me wonder how much they care about the integrity of the NFL brand, and if they understand how social media affects public perception.

Brands who receive negative feedback on social media aren’t supposed to ignore it – it makes the problem worse. As a general rule, brands are encouraged to respond, no matter what, to negative comments so that customers/fans know that the brands they love care about them as well. When handled correctly, addressing negative comments head on can strengthen brand loyalty, instead of driving fans away. Even simply apologizing can make the situation better.

Let’s Talk About Sex… and Social Media

25 Feb

Having “the talk” is always an interesting experience, for both parents and teens.  Trying to be specific enough to get the point across, but without being too specific to scare your kid is not easy.  Some parents shy away from the talk altogether (like mine, they just gave me a book). But now with social media ever present in our lives, the “talk” has changed.

When I was home for Thanksgiving this year, one of my family friends (who is only a few years younger than me and currently in college) was on Tinder almost all night.  What she was doing wasn’t much different than going to a bar specifically to get picked up – just the method was different.  I mean, you never know who you’re going to meet at a bar, and if they are even mentally stable. The fact that now this all takes place over social media changes how we think about the hookup.

If you really think about it, not much has changed when it comes to sex.  Before social media and apps like Tinder, we would go to a bar to meet a guy.  Now, most of these interactions take place over social.  But because these take place over social, we have to be more aware of what is seen, and not seen, by the general public.  There is less anonymity in the world when social media is involved.  If not careful about protecting your identity online, something that you do (or post) can ruin getting into college, or even landing a job.

So, as I’ve established, apps like Tinder and Snapchat don’t encourage sexting, they just facilitate already established behaviors. We all heard about what happened at the Olympics in Sochi.

Teaching young children and teens about the good and bad sides of social media should be a top priority for educators and parents – especially that whatever is posted online never really goes away.  The best piece of advice my father ever gave me before I left for college was “don’t put anything on Facebook that you may be embarrassed by one day” (remember – this was in the early days of Facebook, and before Twitter became popular). Simple and straight to the point.

Social Media and Real-Time Marketing at it’s Worst

4 Feb

This Sunday I decided to take a break from the Big Game and social media, and I’m really glad I did.  Not only was it a terrifically horrible game, but interactions on social media were probably just as bad.

Last year’s Super Bowl was rife with opportunities for real-time marketing, as we saw with Oreo’s “dunk in the dark” tweet, and the others that followed.  Oreo, and their advertising agency 360i, were well prepared for any opportunities that presented themselves.  However, this year, they decided to “go dark”, and not live tweet during the game, which was probably the best decision they could have made.

This year’s game did not have any such opportunities like last year.  However, brands still tried to force some, started interacting with each other, and forgot about the game, and the fans, completely.  As both a consumer and professional in social media, I’m slightly disappointed by what I saw.  It was the worst kind of advertising – in your face and forceful.

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The worst account of all was JC Penny.  First of all, we all know JC Penny has had trouble in the last couple of years with their advertising.  In the summer of 2012, JC Penny missed the mark when rebranding, which caused consumers to loose faith in the brand. After that, Penny apologized to consumers for the confusion they caused.  If you don’t remember, check out this article here and here.  Second, consumers are a little freaked out about the recent security breaches at Target and other big retailers.  So, when JC Penny pretends that their Twitter account is hacked during the Big Game, it doesn’t sit well with the public.

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Real-time marketing is a great tactic, and as brands and advertisers we should always be looking for opportunities to be relevant.  However, we cannot manufacture those moments, and should not try to, or consumers will loose faith in what we are trying to communicate to them.

Thoughts on the Government Shutdown

7 Oct

I’m not going to claim to be a political expert, or in any way very political at all.  But in the past week I have learned more about the American political system than ever before, and paying attention means forming opinions about the thing you’re paying attention to.

First, I’m going to start with Congress.  I don’t know when the parties became so polarized, but seriously, these men and women are supposed to be the leadership of this country.  We elected them to represent us and do the best they can to do the best for this country.  That is their job.  That is their only job.  They need to stop acting like children and playing the blame game.  That accomplishes nothing.  They should be working together to reach a deal that will keep the government running and avoid a default.

This brings me to my next point: the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  The ACA was signed into law in 2010.  That means it had to pass both the House and the Senate, then signed by President Obama to become law.  It was also deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States.  It is now 2013.  The Republicans and Tea Party had three years to fight the ACA and modify it or destroy it.  Personally, I think those who oppose it believe the ACA is too much like socialized health care, which makes us too much like Europe.  However, tying the ACA to the spending bill or the continuing resolution or whatever its called is essentially holding the country hostage.  The extremists in the Republican party claim that Obama and the Democrats aren’t “negotiating” with them.  From what I can tell, there is nothing to negotiate on.  The ACA is already a law.  It’s been a law for the past three years.  Deal with it, or fight it another way.  Don’t hold the country’s economy hostage when it was finally recovering.

Finally, I want to talk about the politics of it all.  It seems to me it’s about winning, and winning politically.  It’s about proving the other guy wrong, or trying to derail them.  It’s not about two sides coming together to work together to find a solution to a problem.  It’s not about what’s best for the country.  It’s not even what will bring this country political or technological or educational advancement.  It’s about what’s best for that guy.

I think Congress needs to remember where this country came from, remember our history.  “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.  That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”  In case you don’t know, that is a section of the Declaration of Independence.  It means that the people give the government its power, and they have the power to take it away if it becomes destructive or threatens our safety.  I’m not saying that we are at this point, that we are in the position the founders of this country were in.  What I’m saying is, our elected officials have an obligation to never put us in that position.  That this country was founded on the belief that those elected are the best of society, and although there would be natural debate as the most educated and intellectual of this nation, they would act with decorum.

Perhaps it is idealistic of me.

Recent Photography: Images of Home

8 Aug

children in water clouds dock man fishing

The problem with Second Screen, so far

27 Jun

I recently came across an article detailing what’s wrong with the second screen industry.  Although I do believe that second screen hasn’t quite figured it out yet, I completely disagree with (most) of what was said in this article.  You can find the article here, and let me know what you think.

First, the article states that the second screen was born out of boredom and defined by consumers.  Although that may be true, it evolved, like so much else, so that TV viewers could talk about what was happening in and around their favorite programs.  It used to be that you would talk about what you watched at work or school the next day with your friends – now you can do it instantly, as it’s happening, with superfans all over the country.

The second point the author tries to make is that “too many are trying to make the second screen the first screen”.  I don’t see that happening, at least not yet.  The apps that do allow for users to vote, choose the ending to an episode, etc., are very well received, even for the “lean-back” experience that is TV viewing.  Viewers want to feel like they are part of the TV experience, not just passive bystanders.  TV viewing has changed, like so much else, to an interactive experience.  For example, Psych’s 100th episode, where viewers were able to vote for the killer and therefore influence the ending of the episode, had very high involvement on social.

One app to rule them all? Yes, although many people (myself included) download more apps than we actually use, I don’t  believe that means that content providers and distributers should combine all of their content into one application for consumers to use.  Take me, for example.  I watch Game of Thrones and Newsroom on HBO, Dexter on Showtime, Psych on USA, and Revenge, Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy on ABC. Although there are apps that allow you to watch all programs within it (Zeebox), the best apps that allow for interactivity are the specialized apps that are show specific.  Again, using myself as an example, I only use the second screen apps for the shows that I am truly obsessed with (like Dexter, which I have been watching since season two).  Most people will not use every second screen app for every show they watch, it’s just not possible.

I do agree with the author that many times second screen applications evolve as an after thought.  For the industry to truly be taken seriously, and be adopted by the masses, second screen has to be integrated from the beginning, part and parcel with the content.  One truly great example is Burn Notice’s “First Contact”.  They have done a great job of integrating the shows content into a second screen experience from the beginning.

However, there is much more to social TV than just knowing what is trending or most watched.  It’s an EKG or barometer of the most popular moments of a program – whether its sports or reality.

Gamification or rewards: what do movie companion apps really offer?

13 Jun

In the past couple of weeks, a plethora of movie companion apps have been released, both for big screen and DVD releases.  But unlike third party applications, many of these applications don’t offer rewards.  Mainly, theses apps have a gamification aspect to them to get users involved and interested in the upcoming movie (or DVD) release.

But what exactly do these ‘gamification’ apps offer?

epicApps like “Fast and Furious 6″ and “Epic”, which both came out prior to their big screen debut, are essentially gamified apps, that really have no rewards to them.

These apps, however, do let you become part of the movie experience.

The Epic app allows for you to build and protect the forest, like Queen Tara does.  You also train and fortify your army of Leafmen, and battle against the Boggans, as they do in the movie.  But in essence, the app is a game, and a game that is aimed towards those who will most likely go and see the movie.  There are some in-app purchases, and without offering any kind of reward, what is the point of buying something virtual?The further along you get in the game, the harder it is to beat your opponents.  You can also play against other players in the game center, or “other kingdoms” as its called in the app.  Along with increased difficulty is the amount of time it takes to upgrade items in the forest.  To harvest certain ingredients for potions or upgrade to a higher level, it can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes or more.

Like Epic, the Fast and Furious 6 app tells a bit of a story.  You interact with well known characters from the movie, like Roman and Tej.  The app also brings in elements from previous movies – like Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift.  Within the app, you are expected to make your car drift in certain spots, as the characters did in the movie.  You earn points for shifting gears perfectly, or having a perfect launch.  You can also upgrade your car, specialize it, and more.  However, to unlock the full potential of the application, you have to buy gas for your car with in-app purchases (or wait for the app to refuel on its own).  That makes me want to see the movie even less than I already did.

But what really has me questioning these most recent movie companion apps is the Man of Steel app.  In a brilliant marketing move, the movie partnered with Kellogg to produce the app.  In order to “unlock” all of Superman’s powers – flight, strength, and heat vision – you have to find the Kellogg products with the QR codes on the back (Townhouse crackers, Poptarts, and others) and scan them.  Only then can you play with Superman’s powers.  Here is an example of the Man of Steel app: http://youtu.be/2owMLNpab84.  Besides the ability to have some fun with Superman’s powers and share them with your friends, the app doesn’t quite offer much.  I see it having a very short life cycle.

man of steel

Unlike Viggle, GetGlue, and other rewards apps, I have yet to see any other benefit to many of these apps other than engagement.  If engagement is the point, then aces, they have done their job.  Other than that, I see no long term strategy to keep users engaged with the applications.  Perhaps gamification isn’t the answer to big screen debut companion applications.

The rise of movie companion applications

29 May

I’m not quite sure when movie companion apps started to appear, but recently, with the rise in popularity of TV companion and third-party applications, they have become more of a “necessity” when releasing a blockbuster movie it seems. The recent releases of Star Trek Into Darkness, the Smurfs, and Dark Knight Rises have all had movie apps accompany them, in an effort to drive more people to the theaters.

My question is: how much traction are these apps gaining with the general public? Early adopters, like myself, and die hard movie fans would jump on these like spots on a dog.  However, I don’t see the “average” smartphone user gravitating towards these apps – they might not even know they exist.

epicIn the past six months, eleven movies have been released with companion applications.  About half of those movies have been released in the past month and a half (or will be released this weekend), including Epic, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Iron Man 3.  As an avid second-screen and social tv junkie, I didn’t know about half of these applications (and I only saw two of the eleven movies).  If that’s true of myself, what does that say of the general public or late adopters of newer technology?

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My sticker from checking into Star Trek Into Darkness opening weekend

In the iTunes store, it’s not that easy to find movie companion applications. Unless you know what you are looking for, or if the app is the featured application on the home screen, I doubt you would even know the app exists.  As a marketing strategy, it doesn’t make much sense to make people work to find your application.  If you know that there is a large audience on a second screen application like GetGlue, why not advertise there? You know people are going to check in when they go see the movie so they get the sticker.

Over half of cell phone owners in the US own a smartphone, according to a 2012 Nielsen study. Seeing as now it’s midway through 2013, I’m sure it’s more than 60% by now.  That being said, the App Store recently passed 50 billion app downloads – including apps for iPad, iPhone, and iPod.  In my brief research, I noticed that a few of the movie companion apps that came out in the past few months were iPad only. I don’t know the percentage of people that have iPads, but I can guess that it is much less than the percentage of people that have smartphones, or even iPhones – but more than any other tablet.  (I did look at apps available on droid – not all are available for both platforms).

Some new movie app releases are intended to drive hype for box office hits, while other movie companion apps are released in conjunction with DVD releases to drive in home purchases.  If the purpose is to get the public excited about a movie or DVD release, and willing to pay the $10-$12 to see the movie in theaters (or the $20-$25 for a DVD or Blu-ray release), maybe having a more thought out marketing strategy would help.

I’m looking forward to seeing what upcoming movies will be coming out with companion apps.  I can already tell you that both Man of Steel and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire both have companion apps.  Hopefully, with the proliferation of movie apps, they will grow in popularity, like social TV apps did eventually.  Only time will tell.

What is the new Star Trek Into Darkness movie app like?

17 May

Over the past couple months, I’ve become familiar with third party TV and movie apps, like GetGlue and Viggle, but with the upcoming release of Star Trek, I wanted to learn more about movie companion applications.  I took some time to get to know the new app.

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The Star Trek Into Darkness movie app, as a way to promote the upcoming release of the movie, gets users to interact with the Star Trek Facebook page, as well as the original Star Trek TV episodes.   It is essentially a virtual scavenger hunt, dragging you around the web to uncover exclusives and behind-the-scenes content.  Every time you interact with the application – scan a photo, listen for audio and more – you earn points, which brings you higher up in rank.  The rank system is exactly like it is in Star Trek: New Recruit, Cadet, Crewman, and so on.  Additionally, you can take quizzes and answer poll questions to test your knowledge of Star Trek history and Starfleet rules and regulations, which also gets you points.  You do have the ability to “skip” a mission, if you are unable to complete it, or like me, you’ve spent too much time searching for a video that you just can’t find.

star trek news

The app also forces you to interact with the 2009 movie, so if you hadn’t planned on re-watching it before going to see Into Darkness, this is a good excuse.

The app also streams news and exclusives to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening behind the scenes.  Or it says it does.  In reality, the “news” button just shows short links to sponsors and partners of the app and the movie, like Hulu Plus and Mazda (although you can get a free month of Hulu Plus through the app if you don’t already subscribe).

After moving up a few ranks, you start to earn rewards.  So far, I’ve made it to Captain, I’ve earned rewards such as exclusive behind the scenes photos from Star Trek IV, videos from the actors of Into Darkness, and character bios.  Although the games are fun, and the interactivity is great, the level effort I am putting in is not being rewarded adequately.  You don’t get rewards after graduating to a higher rank, they come sporadically and randomly.  They come only when you do certain interactions, scan specific photos or take a specific quiz.  If the point is to get consumers excited about the movie release and interact with content on multiple platforms, I don’t believe the app is getting that done.   I applaud the levels of interactivity, though the reward system needs some work – more engaging exclusive content or the occasional physical reward, even a poster would do (it shows that my efforts matter to the creators of the app.)

The further you get in rank, the more of a scavenger hunt the game becomes.  You have to dig harder and look in more places for content if you want to earn points.  Content is no longer just on the Star Trek Facebook page, or on their partner sites.  For some, this would pose as a turn off.  After getting to Captain, the only missions I have left to accomplish is to physically go to locations (Seatle Space Needle, Hollywood walk of stars) to complete the game.  Right now, it doesn’t seem as if there is an end in sight.   The dedicated Trekkie would keep on to earn the rewards to finish the game and see what’s in store for them at the end.

For the Trekkie, this is a great companion application.  It matches the level of interest most Trekkies have in the series, as it integrates the original series with the upcoming movie release.  However, for the casual observer, I don’t believe this will maintain interest over an extended period of time.

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