Good Ad/Bad Ad: Smartphones in Ads

Good ad: GEICO – Smartphone, dumb things

Why it’s good:

  • It’s true. Smartphones have changed our world for the better (we’re never without a map, for instance) but people have also made some really stupid apps. GEICO has it right.
  • It’s funny. White-collar workers goofing off on their phones is a pretty common sight, at least in my office. Probably in a lot of others too.
  • GEICO’s commercials are often part of a larger campaign (gecko, caveman, this guy), so we recognize this as a GEICO ad as soon as it begins.
  • I’m not a big fan of the guy kicking the chair around at the end (why?) but it’s not too distracting.

Bad ad: Verizon – Droid Incredible 2 “Surprise”

Why it’s bad:

  • Fourteen of thirty-one seconds are spent on a closeup of a woman’s face. With a voiceover. She’s not even talking.
  • It tries really hard. She doesn’t have a good “surprised face,” so she’s going to look up videos on her phone? The only video you should be trying to sell on a phone is something like this.
  • People don’t make buying decisions standing in the parking lot. It seems rather unsafe to me.
  • Other Verizon ads show the staff being helpful, but this is literally just a woman deciding to buy a phone.
Posted in good ad/bad ad | Leave a comment

Three Tips for App Developers

Let me begin by saying that I’m not an app developer. I took two years of computer science in high school, but that’s it. I am, however, a serious nerd, and use apps every day. As such, I’ve come up with three things for app developers to think about:

1.) Turn off music and sound effects by default. There’s nothing more jarring than scaring everyone around me (or myself) when I open your app. This may be a pet peeve, but it makes me really, really angry.

2.) Unless you have a proven track record of app development or have a surefire winner on your hands, don’t charge more than 99 cents. iTunes set the price point years ago, but it still stands today — it’s significantly easier for me to justify a 99 cent app purchase than it is for me to justify $1.99. In most cases, I haven’t used your app before, so 99 cents feels like a risk I can take. And I find myself doing it a lot more often.

3.) Shoot to fill a “micro moment.” That is, an app I can jump into, play for a few minutes while I wait in line, and then shut down without consequence. Cut the Rope¬†(and of course Angry Birds) do this very well. Both are long games, in that there are more than 100 levels, but each level takes 30-45 seconds to complete, meaning you can get out of it whenever you want.

Follow these tips and I’m a lot likelier to purchase your app and be happy with it. What would you like to see from app developers?

Posted in apps | Leave a comment

How Personal is too Personal?

Every Monday, I answer a social media manners question. Yes, Virginia, just like real life, there is a right and wrong way to act on the Internet. Please be polite, it makes everyone’s day that much better.

DEAR JOHN: I recently followed somebody and immediately got a mention from him asking how my weekend was. Admittedly, I had tweeted that I was excited it was Friday, but being asked about my weekend seemed too personal to me. What’s your take on this? –TOO SOON

DEAR TOO SOON: I absolutely understand where you’re coming from here. Despite my interest in social media, I am wary about putting too much of my personal life online. This is, for example, why I’m almost never on Facebook — giving my information, images and thoughts to a company like Facebook scares me.

Personally, I wouldn’t have asked about your weekend if you had just followed me. How your weekend was is no business of mine, unless you mention it to me first or I was there with you. I wouldn’t have a problem asking somebody how their weekend was if I had established a relationship with them, but this sounds too soon to me. I’m sure that the question was innocent, and I do believe Twitter should be used for conversation, but please keep it professional and related to mutually interesting topics.

Posted in #mannersmonday | Leave a comment

On Chatroom Introductions

Every Monday, I answer a question about manners on social media platforms. Yes, Virginia, just like real life, there are ways to be polite and ways to be impolite on the Internet. Please be polite, it makes everyone’s day a little better.

DEAR JOHN: When I participate in chats (like #blogchat on Sunday nights), I see people saying hello and goodbye when they show up and leave to take care of the kids. Is this something I should be doing? HELLO GOODBYE

DEAR HELLO GOODBYE: First of all, good on you for participating in chats on Twitter. I’ve found they’re a great way to make connections and learn about the chat topic.

In terms of your question, I would say that unless you’re a moderator, it’s best to not say hello or goodbye, at least until the chat is over. When a chat is fast moving, irrelevant (hello/goodbye) tweets are irksome because they make it harder to track the conversation. Instead, I’d recommend just jumping into the chat. The best way to get noticed is to contribute intelligently, so instead of saying hello, say something smart! It’s a great way to make friends ūüôā

Posted in #mannersmonday, Twitter | 1 Comment

The Value of Open Campaigns

If you haven’t seen them, take a minute to watch these two ads for Domino’s and Hyundai, respectively:

What do they have in common? Instead of advertising a product, both commercials instead sell the customer’s reaction¬†to¬†the product. This is not a new tactic; companies have always tried to tell us that our peer group chooses their product — “choosy moms choose JIF,” “the bestselling car in America,” etc. The difference now is that we can see the people making these claims, enabling easier identification with their choices.

But back to the commercials themselves. Hyundai’s new “Uncensored” campaign is all about putting hidden cameras in cars and recording customers’ reactions. Domino’s “Raising the Bar” campaign is more open, featuring customer comments publicly displayed on a billboard in Times Square.¬†While both campaigns take the same “customer first” approach, Domino’s strategy is better for a number of reasons:

1.)¬†It’s interactive.¬†Good advertising breaks down the barrier between company and consumer, and their campaign does just that. in the sense that anyone with an¬†Internet¬†connection and a Domino’s franchise nearby. The interaction portion of Hyundai’s campaign was over when they shot the commercials, and I’m honestly skeptical that I’m not seeing paid actors.

2.)¬†Domino’s¬†gets customer feedback¬†through its ad campaign. Hyundai may well have collected customer feedback during filming, but as a consumer, you can’t add your two cents.

3.) Domino’s¬†can make you famous, if only for a few seconds, by displaying your name in Times Square. People do this on Twitter — one way to make people like you is to make them famous within your circle, usually by retweet. Domino’s campaign is executing this same technique on a bigger scale, and rewards participation (and your feedback) with your name in lights.

4.) The Domino’s commercial is¬†honest about feedback. They show a review that says “Jose, my pepperoni pizza was fantastic!” but they also admit that they’ve “got some 1’s and 2’s, which is not so awesome.” Hyundai only shows glowing reviews, which doesn’t make me believe what they’re saying.

These companies are feeling the impact of social media. Both deserve plaudits being present on YouTube (Hyundai¬†and Domino’s), especially Domino’s which had to put out a YouTube fire in 2009 when an employee was videotaped doing disgusting things¬†in what the employees claimed was a prank. Instead of fearing the inherent risks of going social, Domino’s got back on the horse and is doing a great job engaging with customers.

Both companies see themselves as groundbreaking, as evidenced by their campaign names — “Uncensored” and “Raising the Bar.” While these companies¬†are¬†ahead of the times, the reality is that they are only doing what every successful company needs to do. Companies with bad products can’t hide anymore — in the past, if you didn’t like a product, you’d maybe tell two or three friends. Now, if you don’t like a product, you can potentially tell thousands. Smart companies recognize this and want to hear what you have to say, because they are truly interested in improving themselves. They’ll internalize your comments and improve wherever they can. Now, more than ever, if your product isn’t good, you’ve got to make it better or you won’t make it.

I recently wrote about three companies I feel are using Twitter well, but what other ad campaigns do you like?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

What are all these mentions?

Every Monday, I answer a question regarding manners on social media. Just like real life, there are ways to be polite and ways to be impolite. If you don’t know what they are, you risk losing your following.

DEAR JOHN: I’ve recently noticed that I’m getting mentions from people I’ve never met on Twitter. Sometimes they ask me questions, other times they share a link with me. What do they want? Does this happen to you? RESTRAINING ORDER

DEAR RESTRAINING ORDER: Yep, this does happen to me, but I generally think it’s a good thing. Whether you like it is up to you, and how you plan on using Twitter. If you want to build your personal brand, this is a good thing, as it means people you’ve never met like what you have to say enough to initiate contact with you. If you use Twitter primarily to stay in touch with your friends, you can ignore these messages entirely.

One thing to keep in mind is that links are often how viruses spread across Twitter. Always be wary when clicking a link from somebody you don’t know, especially if it’s an unsolicited link or the message has nothing to do with your interests. On a related note, be wary when clicking links — even from people you know — in direct messages, as those are another great way to spread viruses on Twitter. When an account is compromised, hackers often direct message that account’s friends in an attempt to spread the virus.

In any event, if you are interested in building your personal brand on Twitter, a good rule of thumb is to respond to mentions within 24 hours. Mentions are how conversation happens, and if you wait too long it’s likely that the other person won’t remember what you were talking about. Twitter isn’t just about shouting into a room full of shouting people, it’s about engaging and making connections. Remember, even though you may not know your followers personally, social media is how business gets done in 2011.

Posted in #mannersmonday | Leave a comment

On the “Thx 4 the RT” Maneuver

DEAR JOHN: I’ve noticed that sometimes when I retweet somebody, they thank me for the retweet. Sometimes, they don’t. What’s the best practice here? — RETWEET THANKS?
DEAR RETWEET THANKS?: Yep.¬†A retweet isn’t a favor, so don’t thank them like that, but it’s nice to say thanks to somebody for putting you out there. Their followers will now see what you said, and can follow you if they like what you have to say.
Beyond saying thanks, it’s important that you use this opportunity to start a conversation. Instead of just saying thanks, reply with something like “Thanks for the RT. What do you think of the article?” Make your conversation starter is relevant, and you’ve got the beginnings of a conversation and ultimately a stronger relationship.
It’s good to note that when you reply to someone, your tweet appears on the Home feed only¬†for somebody who follows both you and the person you mentioned. For example, if you mention me on Twitter, @VirginiaSquare, your followers will only see it if they follow both you¬†and¬†me. This won’t apply to most people, so you don’t need to worry about clogging the stream.
When in doubt, it’s best to be polite in real life as well as on Twitter. Thanking someone is often a good way to start a conversation, and that’s what building a network is about. Let’s get this conversation started!
Posted in #mannersmonday, Twitter | Leave a comment