Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Harrah’s Launches GPS Tracking

January 13, 2010: summarized from Casino Journal -- Harrah’s Entertainment is deploying an iPhone application with a GPS locator that will follow consumers as they walk through the company’s Las Vegas casinos, sending text messages to their phones with offers that coincide with nearby restaurants, showrooms and other attractions.

“If you’re at Paris, we could send you two free admissions to the Eiffel Tower ride or if you’re at Caesars Palace after 6 p.m., we could send you an offer for the Bette Midler show,” said a company spokesman, Neal Narayani, in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun. “We might have some additional show tickets left over, so knowing where the customer is is a great way to get those tickets pushed.”

Harrah’s also has launched an automatic hotel check-in application that incorporates text messaging. Texpress, debuting at Caesars Palace, allows customers to bypass the front desk, similar to what hotels have already done with the check-out process.

When booking a room through the Caesars Palace Web site, customers may choose a check-in feature prompting them to confirm their arrival a day in advance by texting the property.

The GPS technology is part of the company’s iPhone application for Caesars Palace, which launches this month with a map of the resort, contact numbers for various attractions and access to the hotel’s Twitter feed, among other features.

Harrah’s joins a handful of major hotel chains with iPhone applications allowing visitors to find nearby hotels based on their location and learn more about properties and amenities.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/4Ij8PX

Key Trends in Social Media for 2010

January 6th, 2010: summarized from rave news -- Social media, by its very nature, is fluid. Constant changes in industry tactics and developments in technology happen at such a lightning pace that it’s hard to predict what will happen next week let alone what will happen in the next 12 months. But there are some trends that look to be cresting in 2010.

• The two key words for 2010 will be mobile and integration. With Google releasing the Nexus One and the iPhone continuing to become more and more mainstream, smartphones are going to become the rule rather than the exception in 2010 and while you are using your smart phones you are going to want to easily access all of your social media networks. That’s where the integration comes in. Applications that help you manage your Facebook or Twitter accounts are going to have to allow you to manage your complete online presence (plus LinkedIn, YouTube and whatever the next thing to come along is).

Sites like Ping.fm are already moving forward with a one-stop access point for social media and others, like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, are following suit. Someone is going to become the clear leader, with the easiest interface, in this space. Winner of that prize will be a household word by year’s end. But it may be a site we already know about (Facebook, anyone?) that decides to flex its muscles and become the headquarters for everyone’s social media.

• Businesses will ratchet up their use of iPhone apps and location-based information. I’ve written before about the growth of Gowalla and GPS-based services online, which allow users to check in from locations around the city. I think businesses will get wise about these type of services and offer premiums, either in partnership with Gowalla or independently, that reward patrons who use these services and promote, through influential word-of-mouth, their businesses. Discounts, virtual goodies or VIP access could be the reward waiting for savvy mobile users.

Gowalla’s emphasis in virtual tokens for every check-in has given it an edge on Foursquare, especially in the markets that Foursquare is just getting established in. But it also has some currency to leverage with the businesses, which want to see some ROI in using this tech to relate with customers.

• The use of social media during sports, and any other shared experiences, will increase in 2010. Look for more and more teams to develop not only their own mobile applications, but also allow fans to interact with each other and some members of the organization during the games themselves. Live Twitter feeds on some part of the scoreboard, live chats with the announcers during the events and the ability to get audio and video anywhere.

Teams outside the U.S. – like members of Britain’s Premier soccer league – are doing all they can to squeeze mobile money out of its die-hard fans. College teams have the highest ceiling in this area in the U.S., so look for more specialized info from them (for a price).

• Baby Boomer domination on Facebook. What once started out as a college site will totally turn itself over to the Baby Boomer generation in 2010, since they will now have access, motivation and the spending power to supercharge Facebook’s bottom line. The shift in demographics may mean younger users search out the next big thing, since they won’t want to be excessive sharing (or answering questions) with mom and dad. That could shake up the landscape or revive a brand that’s sitting dormant.

That’s a broad look at what could happen in 2010, beyond the continued mainstream adoption of sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Of course, there may be a site that springs up out of nowhere and into the forefront of the space. That’s the fluid nature of the Web and what makes it so exciting to be a part of.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/8I9b4V

7 Questions Key To Social Networking Success

CM Comment: Especially note #7 entitled “What’s Next.”

January 16, 2010: summarized from Information Week -- Social networking true believers use words like engagement, responsibility, and transparency that smack of the Internet's hippie days in the late 1990s, yet social networking has proved to be much more than a passing fancy. The exploding numbers associated with the most popular sites like Facebook and Twitter inspire awe in even the most jaded statisticians. Time spent on social networks increased 277% in the United States last year, according to media research firm Nielsen, and Twitter itself grew more than 500%.

Now the social media category is primed to emerge as the most significant business enabler since the Internet itself. Organizations must ask themselves seven important questions about their plans for leveraging social networking over the next 12 months. Their answers may spell the difference between success and failure in the coming decade.

1. Are my competitors continuing to invest in social networking?
Measuring yourself against your competition isn't the best way to decide strategy, but it's a fair question given the flash-in-the-pan potential of social networking. And the answer is yes.

For its second annual "Tribalization Of Business" survey, Deloitte polled companies that maintain online communities of 100 members to more than 1 million, created on their own sites or on public social sites such as Facebook and MySpace. About 60% of those communities are less than a year old.

2. Where's the ROI?
This is the $64,000 question. And it's not easy to answer because it depends on what it is you're trying to accomplish with your social media strategy. "Right now it's owned by the marketing division and looked on as a low-cost or no-cost way of amplifying your marketing message," says Ed Moran, director of product innovation at Deloitte.

Except social networking isn't a marketing activity in the one-to-many, shotgun-blast approach that traditional marketing is built on. Or it shouldn't be.

3. Which way works best?
Social media is still an amorphous concept, represented by the microblogs, wikis, forums, chat rooms, and RSS feeds found on thousands of corporate and organizational Web sites, as well as by the familiar sites such as Friendster, Facebook, and Flickr.

Most observers agree that companies must develop a dual social media strategy that incorporates homegrown online communities and involvement with the public social networks.

4. How deep within my organization should social networking be allowed to penetrate?
This is a sticky question, for several reasons. First, corporate culture is historically closed and conservative. Second, some high-profile incidents relating to employee abuse of social networks have put the fear of God into some executives regarding reputation management and legal exposure.

And there's still a whiff of the old complaints of workplace distraction that accompanied the introduction of e-commerce sites. Morse PLC, an IT services company, touted research late last year that it claims demonstrates that the use of social networks at work costs U.K. businesses 1.38 billion pounds (U.S. $2.23 billion) a year in lost productivity.

Nonetheless, many companies are driving social media deep into their organizations. General Motors offers a video course on its intranet that introduces neophytes to the basics of social networking and the company's policies concerning it; about 3,000 GM employees have viewed that course. A more advanced course offered by Barger's group trains employees to become social media proselytizers and teachers; about 500 have completed that training.

The objective, for GM and every other company that embraces a wide-open social networking strategy, is twofold: Let subject matter experts interact directly with customers, potential customers, and partners; and promote authentic voices as company representatives in the community.

5. Is it necessary to have a corporate policy around social networking?
Yes, and it needs to be three things: short, simple, and clear. Many companies, including IBM and Intel, have made public their policies concerning the use of social networking tools. A Web search will uncover a list of them.

While social media are an excellent vehicle for generating ideas, those ideas must get to the people in the organization who can make the best use of them. That's because at most companies, the social media function is almost exclusively owned by a single department: marketing. Instead companies should create centers of excellence to disseminate the ideas culled from social networks and online communities--on products, markets, talent, trends--to the right people who can act on them.

6. What can social media teach me about internal collaboration?
Social networking woke up companies to the way people want to interact with each other, and the ways they don't. At least one veteran Web 2.0 developer thinks companies should let employees use Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, whichever they choose to get their jobs done, rather than force them "onto captive social networks, or monolithic enterprise platforms." Chris Richter is founder and CEO of startup Socialware, which sells software that controls employees' interactions with public social sites. The company's risk manager module, for instance, monitors and stores content sent by employees to outside social networks and can block anything proprietary or objectionable.

Still, if companies think social networking is about technology, they're missing the point, says John Faber, chief operating officer of af83 Inc., a social media services company. Transparency and knowledge flow are key, yet companies are using social networking techniques to re-create closed, segmented, hierarchical structures and still expecting social media-type benefits. "It won't work," Faber says.

7. What's next?
Two words that come up often as social media trends are measurement and analytics--as in, is there a way to measure interest and involvement, and to derive insights from raw social networking data? One underexploited area of social media analytics has to do with product development--mining online communities for ideas and trends related to product areas.

Mobility is another social media opportunity. GM's Barger says one of his priorities this year is to help company employees make use of Foursquare, which offers smartphone users location-based information-sharing in a Twitter-like format.

Look for more use of public social networks and a movement away from corporate online communities and destination sites. It's the opposite of the "build it and they will come" strategy.

An early harbinger of that trend is a tool developed by Resource Interactive called Off The Wall that lets potential customers on Facebook fan pages receive product inducements through the Facebook news feed and then buy that product directly from the Facebook wall. Resource Interactive's Shust says people have moved on from looking at the Web as a series of destination sites and are "now really starting to exist on the Internet." And while engagement is still the main purpose of social media, he explains, there can be a logical conclusion: "Engagement, and then eventually sales."

Read more at: http://bit.ly/88ClvN

What Pepsi Ditching The Super Bowl Signals For Online Brand Advertising

CM Comment: A preview of the dramatically changing nature of media.

January 8, 2010: summarized from Digital Drives Media -- For the first time in 23 years, Pepsi will not be advertising in The Super Bowl – the championships of brand advertising. Big advertisers pay big bucks to reach a big audience with their messages during the Super Bowl. 30-second spots are running nearly $3 million this year. But importantly, this isn’t a cost-cutting strategy for Pepsi. In fact, they are increasing their marketing budget in 2010. Pepsi is simply shifting their Super Bowl spend to the “Pepsi Refresh Project” – with a heavy emphasis on digital media.

The advertising industry’s budget shift to digital media has been underway for several years. Direct response advertising has led the charge due to the compelling combination of relevance and intent offered by search. Brand advertising’s shift to digital has lagged for a variety of reasons:

* Digital media fragmentation: Unlike the Super Bowl, where advertisers can reach over 90 million viewers in a brand-safe environment with a single buy, it has been hard to reach such a large audience through digital channels efficiently. Now, however, the large-scale Google and Yahoo ad exchanges promise to change this dynamic, and a growing number of demand-side platforms like AppNexus, B3, Invite Media, and MediaMath are aggregating their inventory, offering increased ad placement transparency, and simplifying the buying process.

* Lack of measurability: For years, when it came to digital advertising attribution methodology, the “last click” has been king. This approach is not particularly helpful for branding campaigns – where success is measured in terms of awareness. But an increasing number of attribution analysis solutions, like ZAP from WPP’s Media Innovation Group, now go well beyond that “last click” methodology to help address this.

* Unsuitable display ad formats: Brand advertisers have been limited online by awkward display ad sizes and shapes that make it difficult to achieve their branding goals. But that is changing, and online video advertising of the sort offered by Tremor Media now gives brand advertisers the promise of more engaged audiences and better opportunities to tell their brand’s “story”.

* Lack of creativity: Last spring, Mary Meeker listed the top 25 ad campaigns ever (according to Advertising Age) and pointed out that none of them leveraged digital media! She went on to ask, “Where is the great creative?” Pepsi’s Super Bowl decision may offer an answer. Pepsi is breaking with tradition to launch a creative branding campaign that leverages digital media – both to engage consumers in a two-way dialog, and also to more effectively measure the effectiveness of Pepsi’s marketing investment.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/5ccTg0