Digital Spring Cleaning

GarbagecanWe all need to do a little digital spring cleaning. In fact, this blog post could be considered “digital littering” at some point. But let’s quickly explore the idea that every piece of digital content needs to have a “best by” date. We work in a business that iterates at a rapid pace and today’s thoughtful, timely, and useful content doesn’t last forever. Here are some things to consider:

  • Don’t just leave web pages and videos to languish in digital purgatory. Take them down.
  • A PDF produced more than 18 months is probably past its “best by” date. Either take it down or rework it. Look at the content and see if you can recycle it.
  • “I might need the content” you say. It does not need to be on display for the world to see…archive it.
  • “Everybody does it”. In real life and in the digital world, that is not an excuse. In fact, provide timely up to date content. It is everyone’s responsibility to delight the customer.

Take an honest look at what you have out in the digital ether. Is everything still relevant? To make things easier for yourself, adopt an approach where you assign a virtual “best by” date to different types of content (X for web, Y for PDFs, Z for Videos, etc).  You might even end up increasing the frequency of return visits from your customers.

Of course, iterative content like blogs are an exception to this approach. Here you want to build on the foundation that your previous posts provide.

Arby’s Deft Approach To Real Time Social Marketing- or Pharrell’s Hat Is Awesome

Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs
Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs

We watched the Grammys last night, but Diane and I had not planned to be wowed and entertained by a brand taking a real-time opportunity to be nimble and tongue-in-cheek and take the prize for social marketing. Arby’s social media team did a great job reacting in a positive way to Pharrell Williams and the close resemblance of his hat to the Arby’s brand. As of this afternoon Arby’s had over 81,609 retweets 46,489 favorites with the following tweet “Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs” . Genius in more ways than one.

Pharrell and Daft Punk took the stage four times and the Twitterverse had a grand time making fun of his choice of chapeaux. It was opportunistic for Arby’s social marketing team to pivot on this and not only engage on Twitter but manage to get a positive response from Pharrell. It showed a real understanding of their brand and the ability to read a live situation correctly.

That last note is the important point here. Being cheeky and highly visible (by using the #GRAMMYs hashtag) could have been risky. Before going full steam ahead and trying to capitalize on live marketing opportunities:

  • Have a thorough understanding of your brand and your brand’s voice. If the brand you are representing has not established a playful tone, this kind of tweet could run counter to your brand’s image and cause some damage (a quick internet search will pull up some horror stories).
  • Does the event align with your business goals and can it provide positive brand recognition?

Above all else, you have to be a good steward for your brand.

Pharrell

Arby’s managed to opportunistically capitalize on Pharrell’s sartorial choice, and quick thinking with a simple tweet bought some real good will for the brand with digital natives. #YMO

Hawaii Social

Kaanapali Maui Honua Kai Resort
Kaanapali Maui Honua Kai Resort (Photo credit: Dave Dugdale)

I was sitting on a beautiful lanai in the breeze of the cooling afternoon trade wind, at the Honua Kai resort just two weeks ago, jotting down notes for this long overdue post. I was thinking about how well the businesses and people in Hawaii have tuned in to social media. This should not surprise me, especially knowing how Hawaii quickly took to SMS and had one of the highest engagement levels with text-based programs like American Idol when I worked in the mobile industry.

Over the last three years, in our trips to Hawaii, I’ve seen the digital footprints of resorts, small local brands, and local shops grow. They are not just using Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook to broadcast out, but are also using the social web to make a connection with the customer on a personal level.  While on our family vacation, I had the opportunity to have a “talk story” session with Jill Mayo (@JillzBeanz)  who not only drives Social Marketing for several local brands and resort, but is also a hub of IRL—in real life—connections.

Although to Jill the adoption seems slow, to me it seems faster than the mainland. Small businesses are making effective use of Foursquare to drive offers and highlight events. Twitter is used to connect with customer on a hyper-local level to raise awareness around services and goings-on with the brand or resort property. The Honua Kai, for example, leverages their @HonuaKai handle to broadly converse about the resort and share information, and they manage a concierge only handle (@HKConcierge) to raise awareness around concierge services, share local events, and connect with guests one-on-one. This is quite a nifty idea and I wish others would adopt this hyper-local approach. Honua Kai’s marketing manager, Darren McDaniel, is doing a great job curating not only “traditional” kinds of hotel-related content but is also curating the stories of guests, and connecting the online experience with real life.

Jill believes that local brands in Hawaii are still experimenting and there is room for greater engagement. I fully agree. But I am also excited by the spirit of experimentation and not having pre-set ideas about how Social Marketing can drive loyalty. After all, the best sales person is the one that is not working for you; she is the advocate—the one whom others trust to give them the unadulterated skinny.

I like what Jill had to say about taking the brand breaking the fourth wall to connect in the real world and drive unique experiences that foster loyalty and advocacy. Perhaps it’s the fact that in Hawaii the spirit of ohana (family, in an extended sense of the term) allows the opportunity to take a simple 140 character message and make a connection on a human level.

Wouldn’t be cool if we could all get together next year for a Social Marketing conference on Maui? Let me or @JillzBeanz know.

Full disclosure: my wife and I stay at the Honua Kai and actively compete on becoming the mayor on Foursquare the moment we land.

Some interesting handles to follow in no particular order:

Aloha and Maui No Ka Oi

What does all this have to do with Surfing?

Teahupoo, Papeete, Tahiti
Teahupoo, Papeete, Tahiti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Looking back on 2012, I was remembering what excited me about it and realized that I kept getting stuck on being stoked. To those that don’t know the meaning of the word “stoked”, it is simply to be intensely enthusiastic, engaged, and exhilarated about something. In my small circle of Northwest surfer friends, this feeling is the essence of being alive.

What does all this have to do with marketing, technology, or business? If you are not stoked about what you are doing then you need to make a change. Plus, it gives me the opportunity test out some surfing lingo:

Here’s what I was stoked about in 2012, and will be glad to do in 2013:

  • Catch every wave:  You can just paddle out there and wait for the perfect wave. But my recommendation is that you paddle hard and ride as many as you can. I did that in 2012 and will continue to do it in 2013. From a business perspective this means looking at every opportunity not for what they are at that moment, but for the promise of them evolving into something amazing.
  • Ride to shore: You can always kick over, but I like riding to shore, seeing my family, and paddling back with the full panorama of the ocean in front of me.  In other words, keep sight of what is most important to you and see the big picture.
  • Duck dive: Sometimes you need to go through waves rather than paddling over them. Duck diving is the way that surfers dive under an oncoming wave as they paddle out. This tactic allows you to maintain the progress made by paddling out by not being washed backwards by the wave. Same thing applies to business. Sometimes you have to go through obstacles rather than going around them in order to maintain your trajectory.
  • Paddle out: This is just something you have to do not just in surfing, but in life as well. Don’t stay on the sideline, jump in, take a risk, and enjoy the ride.

Yes, I know it is late January, but I genuinely thought about what I need to do. What are you going to do? Surf, or stay on the beach?

A Missed Local Opportunity- Is Valpak still relevant?

Recently, I opened the blue Valpak envelope that arrives in my mailbox regularly. To tell you the truth, I had not opened one in years; it went straight to the recycle bin. This time around what caught my eye was the QR code on the envelope that promised more offers if I snapped it. I did, and it landed me on a generic Teleflora offer.

I did open the envelope and looked inside. Some good coupons from local restaurants, but no place that we regularly go. There were some OK services offers from plumbing to carpeting, but nothing that moved me to take action.

What most people don’t know is that Valpak is sometimes run by a franchisee locally, rather than from a national headquarters.  To be clear, I have no idea how that relationship works or the mechanics around how Valpak runs operates this model. But what I do know is that I expected local offers when I snapped the QR code with my phone. It was the QR code that got me to engage with the envelope after all these years.

Valpak is still relevant.  After all, they did get me to open the envelope. However, they completely missed the mark by not leveraging the unique features offered by QR codes to present hyper-targeted, local offers down from zip code level to the nearest shops to my phone’s location. One last thing; by effectively integrating mobile into the flow of direct mail offers, there is the opportunity of increasing the pass-along effect by making the offer portable on mobile devices.

Targeting Cheese

We love cheeseWe have a tendency to do some quick shopping at the local QFC  near my wife’s office before we head home. We also shop at the QFC near our home and always use the club card.  But these guys are soo good that they recognize @dianego ‘s love for cheesse overcomes the fact that we did not live in the geotargeted area.

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