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Steve Martin
Strategic Planner, Tech Enthusiast, POSSIBLE
Strategic Planner, Tech Enthusiast, POSSIBLE

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Digital Advertising: My Thoughts Circa 2010

I graduated school in 2009 - one of the worst times to find a job. I lucked out though. I met a great mentor in one of my interviews. He saw some potential in me (thanks Larry) and gave me an assignment to become his agency's part-time blogger. Here was his ask...
"Please provide insights and examples from your perspective on what people value in a "Social media  relationship" regarding Brands, products and service providers.

1.) How much traditional media is required to support non-traditional/Social media campaigns?

2.) Is it all about the "value-add"?  Is the only reason that people become participants in a social media relationship with a company or entity because they offer things that are not available offline?  Is there a certain "coolness, or cache attached to being involved with the right companies, bands, entertainers, products that is conveyed to others by your Social media associations?

3.) What do you think is cool, and what do you personally follow in social media?  What do your friends follow?  What do you think is worth promoting, but is being done poorly?"

Tonight, I was searching for something in my email and randomly stumbled upon my response to his request. I'm sharing it with you in all its glory. The good and the bad (ignore my double spaces, it's what some schools will teach you.)

I love this blog though; even in all my shortsightedness. I love it because I was advocating for something that I didn't even realize at the time. You can change the platform and delivery all you want, but basic principles of human behavior should guide all your decisions. 

It's easy to get caught up in tactics, monitoring, reporting, benchmarking - etc. But this is a good reset button for me to continue focusing on human behavior.

So, please enjoy my first foray into digital marketing. What a fun ride it's been so far. Also, I have a 2015 prediction as my final line - good timing, no? I got one part of the sentence wrong (RIP Andy Rooney) and one part right (Twitter is our news source today.)

Social Media Blog

Why does social media work and who is using it successfully?  I recently posed these questions to my sixty-year-old father and he simply stared at me blankly.  Ok, so maybe my dad isn’t tweeting his buddies at the end of 60 Minutes about Andy Rooney’s latest diatribe, but it is worth noting that he emailed me later that day and told me he had looked up “social media” on Wikipedia, and he now knew what I was talking about.  Maybe my mom can Facebook him later with a further lesson on social media’s intricacies. (Yes, she has an account).

      Social media in 2010 is nothing short of pervasive and powerful.  And even if we don’t always notice it, (dad), social media touches all of our lives.  The more internet-inclined businesses have harnessed its power for years, and now even the most traditional brick-and-mortar businesses at least use email – most use more.  So what is social media exactly?  This is a tough question to answer, as the role and nature of social media is evolving as fast as the technologies that support it.  For its creators, social media means internet-based technologies used by people to generate and share information.  For the user though, social media represents an amorphous web of connectivity, communication, learning, and fun. 

Marketing 101 teaches us that successful marketing campaigns include three phases: (1) The consumer becomes aware of the brand, (2) the consumer then tries the brand, and (3) the consumer reuses and advocates for the brand. If a business can get consumers to fulfill these three steps, it will have developed an army of self-sufficient and loyal buyers, who will ultimately promote the brand and market it by word-of-mouth advertising within their social communities. And where are these modern-day communities? These communities exist within social media.

     Facebook is the embodiment of how the public shares information in today’s world; it has mastered the art of creating a community via social media.  Here, consumers engage with “friends” and control content with unparalleled ease.  Within seconds, a user can create messages and disseminate news to thousands of people around the world.  For example, many Iranians reacted to the unrest following their recent election by posting videos and messages on Facebook, while virtually no information was released on traditional media sources. In this sense, Facebook works as a tool of communication – and in Iran this communication was more powerful than any other source.  If this media may be used to convey dangerous and evasive information, it is but a short leap to imagine it being used to convey product information.

But whether a person is reporting government injustices in Iran or simply forwarding the viral video of the day, Facebook succeeds because of its strong community. People who join a community accept one another and are receptive to each other’s messages – at its most basic level, it’s simply human nature to want to be part of a community.  Establishing a community can be a valuable step in moving consumers from the awareness phase to the trial phase of a product.  The successful non-traditional media campaigns recognize this -- Nike and Apple have done an outstanding job understanding and using this concept.  I’m no Usain Bolt, but because of Nike and Apple, I feel like I could train like him.  Allow me to elaborate.

      A few years ago I saw a television commercial advertising running shoes that sync with your iPod and send your running statistics to a website that tracks your exercise.  These shoes were fairly expensive, and I normally wouldn’t spend that much money on a pair of running shoes. But after going online and reading comments from other users of the product, I decided to spend the extra cash to become part of a community that would encourage my fitness.  Because of this community, I was willing to try the products.  The site is mostly user-generated content and is not “in your face” about promoting Nike and Apple products.  But, if you want to upgrade to a new pair of shoes, or get the latest iPod, they are only a link away.  Nike used traditional media to attract consumers to its non-traditional community. I am certain I will purchase new running shoes sometime in the future and because of the value added by this feature, they will likely be Nikes.

      Nike and Apple used a marketing synergy and a clever website to create value for its users. But sometimes the “value-added” is primarily user-driven. In 2007, Bank of America launched an online community to promote its social media campaigns.  The site was provided free of charge, and while targeted at small business owners, it was open to all users.  This site has succeeded because it allows its members to pose questions and discuss everything from tax management to industry tips – a virtual one-stop-shop for small business owner needs.   And while Bank of America does provide some content, it also allows its users to communicate with and help one another.

Like Nike, Bank of America also used traditional marketing (television advertising) to promote the small business community.  The result is that Bank of America has built awareness of its brand and created loyalty by offering a valuable venue to its constituents.  The ease and anonymity with which they can teach, learn, and communicate with like-minded users has ultimately generated interest in banking with Bank of America.

  And while Facebook has mastered the community aspect, it must be careful not to destroy what it has built.  I have been a user of Facebook since 2004 and have enjoyed the advertisement-free, nonintrusive nature of the site.  But now it appears Facebook is ready to harness its community’s marketing potential.  The changes have been subtle, but they are occurring.   The site has recently gone from a completely user-generated community to a somewhat invasive marketing machine.  Users do not want that.  They want to find the “newest thing” on their own, or at least believe they found it on their own.  For example – I like having an icon on my Blackberry where I can click and see what new applications are available.  But I do not want a weekly email telling me to go somewhere and download something.  This type of unsolicited message is the cyber-version of a mailbox circular – it is thrown straight in the garbage bin.

      In its efforts to introduce marketing to its community, Facebook should learn from MySpace.  Myspace dominated the online social networking scene until it allowed its profit motives to surpass its commitment to its users.  The site has become cluttered and overwhelmed with advertisements and unattractive “add-ons”.  It grew into the marketing aspect before its users were ready.  And worst of all, it lost its brand-cache in the process.  Marketers are well aware that tipping points may have negative as well as positive shifts on branding.  Myspace has toppled backward.  Facebook must be careful not to fall as it walks the line between marketing and meeting consumer needs.

      If a company wishes to use social media successfully, it must first remember that users of social media value and believe in their community.  And they will protect it.  But like good Americans, members of this community are a polite bunch.  If you wish to enter, you must do so gracefully -- Say “please”, speak only when spoken to, and clean up after yourself.  Politeness is the order of the day when it comes to non-traditional marketing.

      So if a company wishes to enter the social media interactions between users, how can it do so “politely”? At this stage of evolution in social media marketing, there is no precise formula for the correct amount of non-traditional marketing to use. The amount of non-traditional marketing depends on your business size, target market, and overall usefulness that it can provide your company. As with any marketing campaign, a mix of multiple media is the best solution for accomplishing your set task. Bank of America and Nike both used TV commercials to draw users to their social media sites, while Facebook and Twitter have grown into behemoths without the help of much traditional media at all.

The sites that successfully bridged the gap between awareness and trial (Nike & Apple, Bank of America) either offer strong community benefits, valuable content, or a mix of both. The tangible and intangible assets are what bring people to join social media websites, and in turn fuel social media marketing. Intangibles can include the coolness cache or simply bring a sense of meaning to the user.

So, what do I think is cool?  I love movies and television shows, and I have found a website that has both.  It’s called – a conglomerate of new movies and TV shows where you can watch your favorites with no hassle and free of charge.  And because of its mix of community and valuable content, I have become an advocate. There is even a section where you can chat with other members and talk about what you’ve seen, get some opinions, or request that someone post that flick you really want to watch.  I follow the site on Facebook to see what new shows will be airing that night, or to see what movies will be added.  This is a non-profit site and relies on links from other sites to generate the content.  Many users will find the shows and give the links to the administrator to post.  In many ways, it’s a forum of media connected to other sites.  I really believe this site could use some upgrades in regards to marketing in social media. 

I would suggest that the sites’ Facebook section have a part where you can check which shows you watch on a regular basis.  The checking of the boxes would send notifications to your Facebook account of when new posts have been uploaded.  It could also post on your wall that you have finished watching a particular program on  This would build tremendous awareness for the site and it would mostly be user generated.  I would also recommend that the site incorporate a forum of posts for commentary instead of just live chat.  I have a few friends on there that I would like to post comments to that are not on at the same time.  This site has great potential to be the next big thing on the internet.

As a new decade unfolds, social media will play an even more involved role in our lives. In the past, users have had a relatively marketing-free experience within social media, but companies have now begun using their communities for marketing purposes. The benefits of social media branding can be strong though. And those who use social media successfully will respect its users by providing them with the medium and the message, but allowing the users to choose how or if to use them. Regardless, social media’s presence is only likely to increase over time. Who knows—by 2015 even Andy Rooney may be dispensing his anger 140 characters at a time.  


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Hi everyone - A few months ago we began a new venture called New Hobby Box Every month we teach you a new hobby in a unique way. Last month we learned the art of candlemaking. Months prior, we learned how to pick locks, and even how to make a foxhole radio. This month (January) we are teaching our community how to build electronics - really demystifying devices that are part of our everyday life.

I'd like to use G+ to share more about the business - how we have grown our idea into a rapidly expanding community. It will revolve around some of the different marketing we are doing to grow the brand, what it takes to start a subscription business, and any questions you all may have. I will be updating weekly.

Stay tuned!

#newhobbybox   #subscriptionbox   #business   #hobby   #diy   #learn   #tryanythingonce   #subbox   #lootcrate   #birchbox  

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Going to be playing Holiday Hug Bingo on Thursday - I'll get a "Hugshake" without fail. #thanksgiving  

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Expecting awkward hugs this #Thanksgiving? Don't fret, even awkward hugs are #AllGoodWithDowny. 

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fascinating piece.

What You Need to Know About Language in 23 Maps and Charts

"The limits of my language," the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once posited, "mean the limits of my world." Explaining everything within the limits of the world is probably too ambitious a goal for a list like this. But here are 23 maps and charts that can hopefully illuminate small aspects of how we manage to communicate with one another.


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Let Me Hold Your Hand, Please
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Inspirational music. #NightShift

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Definitely can wait - love fall time.
Share if you think winter should wait its turn. #FallForDowny #WashInTheWow 
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