The Phenomenon of Social Notworking

February 17, 2009

social-media-cartoon

NOTE: The earliest known use of “Social Notworking”, is on a UK blog dedicated to the term. The first entry is “Better things to do with your time…”

I like to Tweet about my importance to the world as much as the next person, but talk to many old-school PR guys or gals about social networking and you’ll get a cantakerous diatribe about time spent “making real connections” versus time spent socializing on the interwebs. It’s undeniable that being digitally connected to hundreds of millions of people  makes life as a PR pro easier (if not somewhat convoluted). It also opens the door for us to be lazy and/or unfocused, even if you kind of feel like you’re still working. 

The biggest irony of the last statement is that social networking is GENERALLY most effective when done constantly, over a long period of time. The more time you invest, the better your ROI ought to be…right? In theory yes, except this doesn’t account for the fact that some of the most widely shared online content has been spread 100% virally with no “Marketing Engine” to drive it. So, where do you draw the line?

Previously, we covered Social Media myths , a description of some untruths that can help streamline social media marketing efforts. For this post we’re delving into: 

Questions you can ask to determine if your social media agenda is working.

  • Does anyone respond to your Twitter posts/blog/Facebook page/newsletter? No fresh content = no audience, people don’t follow just to follow, they want to be engaged.
  • Is your social media program driven by SPECIFIC  company goals or objectives? If you have a program just to say you’re involved with social media but it’s not synched up with the company’s vision, it’s not doing any good. Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends does an excellent job explaining this in a blog post: Social Networking or Social Notworking?
  • If you’ve hired a consultant, does that person meet any of the criteria listed in Suw Charman-Anderson’s post entitled, “How to Determine if your Social Media Consultant is a Lemon.”
  • Can you pinpoint traditional media hits that resulted directly from interactions started through social media? 
  • In the course of one day, are the majority of your social media interactions more personal than professional? Be honest.
  • Do you primarily engage in social media because it keeps you busy and feeling connected or is it more of an outreach tool?
  • Is there something more productive you could be doing right now besides reading this blog?

I was going to assign a Cosmo magazine type rating system for each response, where depending on your final tally, you were either a Social Media Butterfly or a Cave-dwelling Chrysalis but I don’t want to deflate anyone’s self-esteem balloon.

The ultimate lesson is to understand what works and spend your time wisely because there are plenty of people who would gladly do your job for less money right now.

Posted by: Nick


Twitter as an App?

February 11, 2009

Twitter has caught on like wildfire around the world. Not only are us “regular” folks using it to update our friends, keep up with the latest news, etc…, you’ll also be hard pressed to find a celebrity that isn’t on it, twittering away from their CrackBerrys on some exotic island.

Started in 2007, Twitter was initially used as a platform to update your social network, possibly find some other random tidbits that interest you, but has since blown up to include everything under the sun.

Now, I admit, I’m not a Twitter fan. Personally I just don’t have the time (or motivation) to keep “tweeting” random updates all day long. But that’s just my opinion, and looking at the way this site has expanded over the past year and a half, I know I am in the stark minority. There are a lot of people that utilize this every day for things like keeping in touch with children, friends, finding opportunities for your company (as several “Casterites” have been able to do) and to get up to the second information from your favorite news sites. But what amazes me is how many companies are really embracing and exploiting the endless possibilities of Twitter.

Wired just wrote a blog post which talks about the crazy products and applications that stem from the popular site. One of my favorite has to be this company Botanicalls which sells a Twitter enabled that lets you know your neglected house plants are thirsty. It seems that people are figuring out how to do anything and everything through Twitter. New applications like “Twittershare” and “Tweetcube” allow users to share large music files. Twitter’s limited format of short, text-based announcements are a natural match for sites like TrackThis, which you can use to get status updates on FedEx and UPS packages, and Tweetajob, which job seekers can use to get real-time updates about new job openings.

Home automation programmers are even getting in on the action. We’ve all heard of your smart home being able to update you on the status of your home, for instance, when the door to the house is opened, you can get email/text alerts letting you know about the activity. One programmer actually set up an application where his dryer will “tweet” him when the cycle is done, so he knows when he has to go and fold them to avoid the dreaded wrinkles.

We all saw the race to create iPhone applications over the past year. I guess Twitter is the new “it” app that will have manufacturers racing to get their products integrated.

I find this absolutely amazing. While I may not be a Twitter follower, I am impressed with the ingenuity of its users.

I’d be intrigued to hear from you guys. Do you know anyone who has created a really cool Twitter app?

Posted by: Lauren


Double Your Brand Exposure, Double Your Risk

February 10, 2009

It’s been a rough few weeks for celebrities and their endorsements.   First, pictures emerge of gold-medal Olympian Michael Phelps smoking marijuana from a bong at a party and Kelloggs follows suit by dropping his endorsement campaign.  Touche.  Now, Chris Brown, after being arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, pop-star Rhianna this past weekend (classy stuff, Brown, really) has had his Wrigley’s advertisement campaign suspended indefinitely.  You know the one – featuring Brown’s chart-topping hit “Forever” (essentially a wrip-off of the brand’s commercial jingle anyway, double your pleasure, double your profits). 

Everyone makes mistakes – some more forgivable than others.  (Though sending your girlfriend to the emergency isn’t really one of them).  Some might argue that if someone can win 14 Olympic gold medals, the things you ingest own your own time shouldn’t really be cause for concern.  (I don’t think anyone believes marijuana is a performance enhancing drug.  But that’s neither here nor there).   But whether the crime is petty or serious, the true problem here lies in the value celebrities place on their image and its ability to make them money.  Celebrity endorsements are heavily relied on by many companies to put their message into the hands of consumers, especially young impressionable ones.  It’s no wonder why a company would then panic and cancel all ties to a celeb when things in their personal life appear not-so picture perfect. 

Kelloggs doesn’t want to be associated with a drug-using lifestyle and Wrigley’s gum certainly doesn’t want to appear sympathetic to a perpetrator of domestic violence.  But it is the risk they take when pairing their brand with the brand of the rich and famous.  Their lives, chaotic and constantly under a magnifying spotlight are breeding grounds for scandal and misconduct. 

I’m not sure Wrigley’s will ever get out from under their partnership, however, as everyone will always remember that one infamous line, ringing in their ears of gum chewers and R&B fans alike. 

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter


Turn up your Hearing Aid…Audio Matters in Home Theater!

February 6, 2009

Rarely but sometimes it’s best to let others do the pontificating for you. These times are often called Fridays.

According to DigitalTips.com, My Ultimate Guide to Consumer Electronics (allegedly), “The meteoric rise in flat-panel television sales and the increasing affordability of projection television have brought big-screen HDTV to millions of homes. But many of those households are missing out on the other half of the home theater experience. To complete your home theater systems, you need to complement your investment in video with an investment in audio. Why?.”

I like this article because it is not brand specific and it provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of the options available for building your audio system. Clearly one needs to consider the undeniable leader in audio electronics when considering any purchase but a little unbiased education can’t hurt.

Posted by: Nick


Journalists on PR: Rebecca Day

February 4, 2009
Rebecca Day

Rebecca Day

In today’s installment of Journalists on PR, we’re honored to interview Rebecca Day, one of the consumer electronics industry’s most respected and prolific freelance writers.

Rebecca has written about CE for more than 20 years, and for the last 18 years as a freelancer. Her articles have appeared in a wide variety of consumer and trade publications, including Ladies’ Home Journal, Electronic House, Custom Home, Architectural Record, Family Circle, Rolling Stone, Home Theater, Ty Pennington at Home, Robb Report and more.

Rebecca is one of the journalistic mainstays of the electronics industry, omnipresent at key industry events and highly regarded by manufacturers, colleagues and readers alike. Editors particularly view her as their go-to person for features, reviews and installation stories, and in those areas, she is virtually peerless.

Rebecca’s warm-but-sharp, incisive and to-the-point interviewing style has left more than one of my clients in post-interview awe of her prowess. She asks probing questions, but she is fair, and that’s one of the highest compliments you can pay a journalist.

We’re thrilled that Rebecca took some time to talk with us about a freelancer’s particular needs from PR professionals.

Read the rest of this entry »


What’s your Geek Factor?

February 3, 2009

Friends call me to give them tips on which televisions to buy or speakers to purchase. They recently started asking me cabling questions, and worse, internet connectivity questions. After 6 years in the CE industry, I proudly share what knowledge I do have to help friends and family or direct them to other respected resources. It never occurred to me, however, that I was becoming “one of them”…until a few weeks ago.

I was looking at his mount. Yes, his mount. I was on a date, and while he was pouring a glass of wine, I was peering behind the 52-inch LCD to see what type of MOUNT it was affixed to. (WHO DOES THAT?!?!?!) I got caught geeking out. I was more than slightly mortified. I redeemed myself while he was explaining the features of the mount (great cable management, etc.) and I responded, “Yeah, it looks like an Architectural Series cantilever mount by OmniMount.” It was, and he was impressed. I then quickly segwayed the conversation into my profession as a PR representative for consumer electronics manufacturers. All was well until Super Bowl Sunday when a commerical prompted the discussion of why consumers would purchase a Runco flat panel versus a big-box brand. I thought, “I’m doing ‘it’, AGAIN. DOH!”

So, this afternoon, prompted by a Tweet by a Gizmodo editor, I took the GSAT’s (the Geek Social Aptitude Test) to see if I was becoming, or (worse) already, “one of them.” Adam Frucci writes, “Face it: We’re all geeks here, and that means we all have a measure of social awkwardness. But how much are we talking here? Teaspoons or gallons?” How do you spell relief? G-S-A-T!

My results: With a low score of 6, I am actually more like James Dean (for the record, 2 points were accumulated because of professional tasks/affiliations and should technically be omitted). You’re like James Dean, if James Dean were less attractive, less famous, less rich, alive, and interested in gadgets. You’re a relatively cool person, but that’s only relative to people who are seriously awkward, so don’t go patting yourself on the back just yet. You still read a gadget site in your free time.

Touché!

 

Do you dare to take the Gizmodo GSATs? Don’t forget to share your results with us.

 

Posted by:: katie | find me on Twitter

 


Super Success?

February 2, 2009

It’s that time of the year again. The Monday after the big game when everyone is giving the play by play of, you guessed it…the ads! I must admit, I wasn’t looking forward to watching this year’s game. As a die-hard Giants fan I’m still a little bit bitter about the two teams that ended up fighting for the coveted Lombardi Trophy.  I mean Cardinals/Steelers, great teams, but how can you beat last year’s SuperBowl? Impossible! Although it did prove to be an awesome game. (OK now back to the topic at hand!)

Now normally when watching football, commercials are the time to refill my drink, make a pit stop, or let the dog out. But this game does not fall under normal circumstances. Thankfully my DVR allowed the ever so important “potty breaks” so we wouldn’t have to miss a thing. Every year the SuperBowl delivers the most anticipated ads of the year. Each year they get more and more elaborate, and more and more expensive. SuperBowl XLIII was no different as a 30-second spot ran advertisers $3 million. With today’s economic crisis looming, I was interested to see if manufacturers were going to pull back, or go full bore. It turns out they did both. Major companies such as Budweiser, Pepsi Co and GoDaddy.com launched several new spots throughout the game, while smaller manufacturers had much less of a presence. As always there were the Budweiser Clydesdales, some insanely provocative GoDaddy.com commercials, and several that were truly obscure, most courtesy of Monster.com.

All and all I was disappointed with this year’s showing. Yes, many of them were funny, but too often they failed to resonate. Only an hour after the game, we were challenged to be able to match the commercial with the sponsor. But that won’t stop any of us from catching a second viewing of those hilarious, sometimes outrageous ads. Here at Caster, we have compiled some of our favorites and not so favorites from last night’s ratings festivities.  Feel free to share your thoughts about the biggest ad night of the year with us.

To view all the SuperBowl XLIII ads, visit Hulu

Lauren’s Thoughts –

I have a tie for my favorites. While I am not usually a lover of the Budweiser commercials (minus the beloved Clydesdales) I though the Bud Light Office Meeting and the Doritos Office Bowl commercials were fantastic. Maybe that’s the destruction junkie in me, but I laughed my head off! I have to add in that the Gold4Cash spot with Ed McMahon and MC Hammer were classic. My least favorite of the night had to be the Taco Bell Smooth Moves. There was just no point to it for me.

 

It has to be said…what was with the 3-D commercials! I know it was a big promotion for some upcoming movies, but for those of us whose homemade glasses didn’t produce the desired effect, they were almost unwatchable (although watching top NFL athletes try their hand at a choreographed ballet was quite amusing).

 

Katie’s Thoughts –

I’m not going to lie, I was left fairly under-whelmed.

 

My favorite commercial (though I must admit, I missed quite a few when I was talked into playing a video game) was the E*TRADE’s Talking Babies. Apparently Paone thought differently (see below), but the bantering babies actually made me laugh out loud.

 

I was not a fan of the Budweiser commercials, at all. I suppose the least horrific of the series was the “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” horses in love spot. Ever since Stepmom, I love that song, but that was the extent of its entertainment value for me. Another disappointment was the Cars.com commercial – the prodigy kid handing his number over to the girl saying “call me”. Loved it.  SO much potential to be a great commercial right up to the end…  I think it would have worked for any OTHER product besides Cars.com.

 

Joe’s Thoughts –

Overall, a pretty weak crop. CareerBuilder.com’s “Tips” ad was by far the finest. It accurately summed up the modern existence of far too many people, and in the process reinforced my warm and fuzzy feelings about how fortunate I am to be a proud employee of Caster Communications. Given that today’s Groundhog Day, its impact is even more timely. This Monster.com spot was also quite good in communicating this theme, but it paled in comparison to its competitor’s.

 

Two others get honorable mention. Cash4Gold.com’s “Heeeeeere’s Money!” spot with poor Ed McMahon and Hammer was awesome. “My goooold giraffe!” Indeed!

 

The Hulu.com spot with Alec Baldwin was refreshingly honest and quite hilarious. The level of self-actualizing metacommentary on display—both about Hulu and, through Baldwin, ourselves—made me think that my TV and my house might actually implode.

 

Another awesome thing… when you watch the ads on Hulu, they are actually sponsored by Coke Zero. Viva America!

 

The worst—or in my view, the most annoying—spots were the latest excruciating E*Trade “Talking Babies” spot (stale ‘90s-era “humor” mixed with a distressingly glib message about reckless online investing that is totally inappropriate right now) and GoDaddy.com’s usual sleazy-but-not-sexy-in-the-slightest trash. I didn’t link to these because they don’t deserve any more attention than they’ve already received.

 

Oh, and I think I am in love with Flo from the Progressive Insurance ads, but Progressive didn’t run a spot during the game. I just needed to get that off my chest, though.

 

Posted by: Lauren