Oh no, not another post on how apps are the next big thing. Phew thank god both of us didn't wake up late for that party. This is a little different. Let me explain

Do you know how every restaurant & pub has a website that no consumer visits. It's only frequented by vendors, partners, franchise seekers etc, which by itself is a good enough reason to have a website today.

But, when websites were still new, every F&B venue thought they needed to do something with their website to get consumers on it. They spent tons of time and money on website developers to get work done. Some even went to the extent of developing virtual games like "Who can drink the maximum beers". 

All that changed eventually, everyone realised that thing called "location, location, location" is actually applicable everywhere.

You go where consumers are - and consumers are on platforms that they use frequently like facebook for example and facebook pages became clearly a better way out. Well that was a lesson well learnt then. 

But as they say history repeats itself, today when we meet F&B owners to jump on our mobile app clubd, many talk about developing their own apps, which includes their own loyalty platforms, seamlessly integrated with their Point of Sale Software and sometimes done by a vendor for FREE.

I am not sure how any of these seem like trivial problems to them. Developing an app, developing a loyalty solution, integrating with POS software are all stand alone difficult problems to solve. And once you do that, you have to get consumers to download your app, and keep them engaged for long periods of time so your app stays on their phone. 

Seems like a lot of difficult problems for a business whose core is to serve great food and drinks - which I am sure, is difficult enough to achieve consistently.

So my guess is this is yet another exercise in futility, consumers will still use the apps that they regularly use, and you have to catch them while on it. For the F&B industry that includes Facebook, Foursquare, Zomato, Trip Advisor and hopefully many startups like us who are gaining traction.

The answer definitely isn't in developing your own app. People who do nothing but build and market apps get it wrong, what chance does the poor neighbourhood pub have.
 
 
If you notice, there is a rush by local businesses to setup facebook pages & create online communities. But some local businesses who have been there and done that have a genuine problem.

1. Content creation is a constant problem.
What poll, vote or witty joke do I share with my community today?
And will this really lead to meaningful engagement?

2. Inability to engage at the retail store
Online engagement is great, but in the absence of real engagement while the consumer is at the point of sale is absolutely meaningless.

From Facebook Communities to Mobile Communities
Imagine if you could develop a mobile community, one that is loyal & engaged.

The mobile is an awesome invention for more than one reason, it acts as the unique number which can identify an individual, and also act as a communication channel between the consumer and the brand.

Thus the mobile number if used as a loyalty & CRM tool, can identify purchase patterns, visit frequency and also be a source of genuine consumer insight. Qualitative and quantitative market research can come free. In fact it can be designed in the purchase process, and any post purchase dissonance can be captured and rectified.

More on this coming up later, let me leave you businesses with a thought. What if you had just 10000 mobile numbers, and you knew the exact purchase patterns, their affinity towards your brand, their critique and more. What if you could influence the way they talked about you in the online sphere.

How would that affect your marketing and market research strategy?
 
 
This is certainly a must read for anyone doing anything in the social media / networking space
 
 
The race to a million likes on facebook or a 100K followers on twitter. Is that what leveraging social media is about? Companies seem to have taken their first steps in going social, by setting up a facebook page or a twitter account.

You know how they talk about Dell having garnered millions of dollars of business by giving away exclusive offers on twitter. If you consider giving away freebees in return for business as a success parameter, its been done ever since business existed. Replicating that success on a different platform by following this age old strategy can hardly be deemed as a successful use of the platform.

Social Media was intended to connect consumers with consumers. With the intrusion of brands, in an otherwise human world, the best case situation is that consumers now treat the brand as one of them.

Lets not assume that I think being human is not a great move by a brand. It is, but it still doesn't leverage the true power of social media.

If you as a brand want to do that, you need to architect a conversation around your brand, so the consumers are still talking to other consumers, but now they are talking about your brand. More difficult of course, but if done right, you unlock some serious potential.

What are your thoughts on architecting a conversation around a brand. Do you know of anyone successful in achieving that?
 
 
Undoubtedly social media has been one of the biggest changes that the marketer has had to grapple with. A more powerful consumer - I mean which marketer or business wants that. The power to influence no longer rests solely with the big media spenders.

With the onset of mobile payments and m-commerce, I believe that the world of marketing will once again change forever. Make no mistake mobile payments are not remotely the force they can be.

But imagine if the consumer now has the ability to buy any product right on his mobile. It converts every ad into a potential point if sale.

If you see a hoarding for a Deep Purple concert, with a call for action "SMS Deep Purple to 52121" to buy tickets on your mobile, wouldn't that be convenient. You don't have to go online, you don't have to visit the nearest Cafe Coffee Day. Just send the SMS, and use your card to pay. I am sure security concerns exist for payments on a new medium, which will pass with time and with more businesses promoting mobile payments.

Now the marketer doesn't just get the payment but also has the mobile number of the consumer to communicate future events (I know the spam haters are already thinking this is a bad idea). But as long as there is an opt out or opt in option for the consumer, he should be ok with it.

Recently Vodafone has promoted purchase of IPL tickets on the mobile, you can bet that you will see many similar efforts in the not so distant future.
 
 

To take your first steps in the Social Media Marketing World there is just one question you need to ask yourself

Are you willing to trade Control for Influence?

If you can let go of the need to control all communication to your consumer, of the need to define your product and believe that its not you who knows best, but actually your consumer. If you can give up a little control and place it in the hands of your consumer, if you can give them the power to decide, will the Wisdom of Crowds prevail or Chaos Reign?

It depends on how you organise your consumers world and effectively yours. Simply placing a feedback box, will never organise it well enough for your firm. It just won't cut ice with the product team. Random feedback is never taken seriously enough to implement.

On the other hand if you did what Dell has done and created an Idea Storm. Would anyone within the firm be able to say NO to 30000 votes?

The old school was a Dictatorship, where the company unilaterally decides whats good for itself and the people.

The Dell school is a Democracy, truly by the people and for the people. Which do you prefer?

 
 

Twitter, Tweepeople, Twitback, ReTweet, RepeatTweet, Facebook Killer, Follow, UnFollow, @me, @you, #FollowFriday, search.twitter.com are probably just a few of the terms you have had randomly thrown at you.

With all the talk about twitter hitting mainstream, I am sure there are still many out there who have heard some of the phrases above and are wondering what this Twitter phenomenon is all about.

This post seeks to give the first time Twitterer and also the experienced Tweepeople a low down on everything you ever wanted to know about Twitter
but were afraid to ask.

What is Twitter

Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users' updates known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.

This has often led to people terming Twitter as the sms of the internet. This forced brevity in communication is one of the reasons that Twitter is fascinating in a time constrained world.

It is built on the "What are you doing now" status update that you are now familiar with on so many social networks, instant messengers etc. The update can be a personal self expression tool, an interesting link, a joke, a video you are watching, a stock market update, world news - anything under 140 characters.

The updates can be sent from your mobile as well as using the computer. This dual model makes twitter as close to really describing what you are doing right now.

Status Updates - Does anyone read them?

Interesting question, in an age where it is increasingly uncommon to find people following 1000+ users I really wonder if even 10% of the updates get their due.

Technically though anyone who follows you can read your updates and you can read updates of anyone that you choose to follow.

There is an option to restrict updates to just your friend network, but to my limited knowledge is rarely used. The charm in twitter, at least at the moment is the race to gain more followers from around the world.

Twitter - Yet another Social network?

Though Twitter can operate as a typical network for you and your friends, this will not give most sufficient reason to use it. After all we have enough networks to catch up with our friends right...

Twitter has on and off been compared a lot with Facebook and some have gone as far as saying it is a Facebook killer. Comparing Twitter with Facebook is so wrong.  Facebook is like your inner circle while Twitter is like a public social party.

The value in the network, like in a social party with celebs, is that you suddenly have access to the Big Boys even if it is just for a few seconds or a couple of sentences in conversation. You can make an impression or extract some valuable information.

If nothing you get your moment in the sun. The Big Boys are also happy being courted. So its a win win of sorts.

Twitter is like email?

There have been similarities drawn to email and Twitter has been termed as the poor man's email. I never understood that statement considering both are free. Since twitter is a subscribe model where you receive messages only if you choose to, we will compare it with a subscribe only model of email and not an unsolicited email model.

Email is meant to be a one on one communication. Even bulk emailers try to personalise every communication. The email intrudes your inbox and can make you feel real guilty when you see the number of unread messages.

Twitter on the other hand is always one to many, non intrusive and free of guilt. You read if you have the time.

So What's the Fuss About?

The status message is fundamental in its ability to be a conversation starter and I am sure you hardly see wall posts or scraps which say "Wazzup" anymore. The reason being that the question is most probably answered in the status message. So why raise a redundant question, a meaningful reply to the status update will do.

To develop a service around this one concept is indeed a fantastic thought

Of course the 140 character limit is supposed to help in a time constrained world. Though as you will see users don't really use its brevity in its true sense. Most times you see links which lead to blog posts.

How is Twitter Being Used

Personal Branding: The reason why bloggers have backed Twitter so much is that they stand to gain if they have loyal fan base who subscribe to their thoughts. This directly impacts and measures the influence a blogger wields on the internet.

The more followers you have, the more influential you are. Bloggers love this metric and have hence used this platform for microblogging and sharing interesting links from around the web.

This realization has caused a huge race to gain followership, and most twitfolks follow the "you scratch my back and I scratch yours" model. Hence influencer status will progressively be measured by not just the number of followers but will in addition measure the ratio of Followers to following. The bigger that number, the more influential you are.

News & Content Distribution: News and Content Portals have another free means to distribute their content and engage with consumers. Breaking News especially travels quicker on Twitter. In fact there have been numerous cases where citizen journalism has ensured that breaking news travels faster on twitter than through popular news channels.

Polls and Q&A: Great tool to reach out to your followers for feedback, research, queries, help etc. This can especially be used by brands and websites who want to take a quick poll amongst their fan base. When you have over 1000 people following you can expect a fraction to respond to your query.

Content Aggregation: By simply attaching a ‘#’ to the subject (#facebook, #marketing etc.), you categorize/tag your post and inherently make it searchable, so one needn’t follow a thought leader on Twitter, you could also follow a tag or a category of posts and get updates from different people across the world.

Try #marketing for example on search.twitter.com. The results can be taken as an rss feed for automatic updation

Accessing Quality Content in a time constrained world: Most successful users of Twitter have been people and not brands, their reputation is at stake everytime they post an update. They are also trying to gain followers remember.

Hence quality of posts tends to be high. You have to follow the right people though. Thinking that this is a substitute for Facebook where you can catch up with your friends will probably result in you not getting the point of Twitter.

Viral Marketing, Consumer engagement, Brand Building, advertising low cost promotions: Marketers will continuously seek to leverage this open network for sharing viral content, engaging with their consumers, giving Twitter only promotions and building a long term brand.

Virality especially can be gained very quickly if the influencers endorse it with a Tweet and their followers ReTweet this content to their follower base thus causing a massive trickle down effect.

The Reason Behind Twitters Phenomenol Growth

This may not be a case study of Twitter's growth but should serve as reasonably good explanation for what many have given up trying to understand

Bloggers Loved it: The key to Twitter growth has been rampant blogger adoption. They recognised how twitter could help grow their influencer & consequent celebrity status on the web. Bloggers find immense badge value in the number of followers they have. It directly impacts their influencer status on the web.As a result every blogger has done his/her bit to promote Twitter.

Bloggers being early adopters jumped onto the Twitter bandwagon, and then invited all their readers to follow them on this network. Blog readers were bombarded from all ends about twitter until they were forced to check it out.

Now real world celebrities are jumping in - the big bands, movie stars, presidents, brands etc.

Those who jumped on to interact with their real world friends found the going pointless, many quit Twitting. Those who have stuck around have recognised the potential of interacting with their favourite celebs or the benefits of having 1000's of followers.

What happened to competition

There were several services like Jaiku, pownce and Tumblr that looked cooler and had certainly less downtime than Twitter, but could never really catch up with Twitter. These services were inferior in no way, but bloggers had too much to lose by advocating another microblogging service.

To advocate competition would mean not just migrating themselves, but getting all of their followers to move too. The switching costs were just too high.
.
Till date the noise on Twitter only gets louder (People like me still write about it). Bloggers still support it like it is the next big thing.

Is Twitter making Money?

Nope not at all, zilch, squat !! They are living on VC money. a few months ago, facebook offered to buy Twitter for a sum of $500 million which twitter rejected. Some think that this is the most money they could have made of this network.

Some models for making money are described here. Interesting thoughts include

1) Every 50th or 100th tweet to be a system generated Ad
2) Charge for analytics. Consumer sentiment, trend analysis etc. Most probably a market research agency will develop this using their open API's so there is no hope here
3) Charge brands and celebrities to have an official presence on Twitter - practical for sure
3) But maybe most practical of them all - Just sell it to Facebook

If they choose to do none of this, lets hope they really pull of a miraculous revenue model.


Is it a fad, the next big thing or Is it Superman!!!

There are many contradicting views on this one. Most posts around the world will lead you to believe that Twitter is certainly the next Superman.

But just like the man of steel, it has its own Kryptonite. A couple of the reasons why Twitter will fail is below. Just take a look at your twitter stream and see how many of the Tweets have links to external sites. My guess stands at least 50%.

Hence brevity, the foundation on which Twitter is built is actually failing. The Tweet is not self sufficient to communicate a thought to your followers and time invested in reading links can be significant. At many points Twitter resembles a social bookmarking service (without the vote up option)

Reverse Network Effect: Additionally once Twitter reaches a tipping point and attaines mass adoption, the reverse network effect kicks in. This is no longer a fancy place for the knowledgeable few, but every Tom, Dick and you know who... is on this network.

Whats more unlike Facebook, the early adopters are bound to come across the masses, the stalkers, the crude, and the abusive. Suddenly it doesn't seem like such a great network.

That is the problem with open networks - A single message like "You are pretty, can we be friends" or a message to a celeb saying "You suck!!" can so destroy your perception of the network. The network is only as strong as the people on it.

On the contrary the key reason for Twitters success will lie in its interactivity with Celebrities, connecting with brands and real time updates about almost anything. Twitter gives the common man a power he never had earlier. The power to speak his mind and a hope to be heard by celebrities, brands and the like.

P.S - Noticed an interesting report on Twitter users from Hubspot. Check it out

 
 

We welcome this guest post from Ben Johnson of Logoinn, a custom logo design service provider based in UK.

Years of marketing and branding activities make your logo the face of your company.  People start to instantly recognize your logo when it appears on your marketing collateral. Naturally you like your logo and never want to let it go or change it.

However you may not be considering, that with changing times, design preferences and tastes change too. No wonder that large organizations update their logos to portray a more contemporary feel.

This however, does not mean that you should change your logo altogether. In this article we will discuss how improving small bits of elements in your logo can make it look new, fresh and inspiring, while maintain your legacy and brand image.

Picture
Evolution of the Mercedes Benz logo
You should ask yourself few questions to find out whether your logo needs a redesign. If your answer is no to all or most of the questions below, then an effective logo redesign is the solution.

1. See your logo closely not being as a business owner rather being as a customer. What do you feel? Does the design appeal to you?

2. Are the color, font, style and other elements recognized easily?

3. Does it look fresh and modern?

4. Is it successful in portraying the business image to your target audience?

5. Is it compatible with all the advertising and marketing mediums?

6. Is it unique and doesn’t match with any other logo?

Reasons for face lift

Improving small bits of elements in your logo sometimes become crucial. There are several reasons that can justify the above mentioned comments:

1. Giving a new look to your logo can be eye-catching to viewers. The graphics, images, colors, fonts used in the logo must all reveal the aesthetic element of the design. If the logo you have does not meet the above standards, a logo redesign is highly recommended to earn benefits from it.

2. Fonts, colors, and all other elements in your logo should be located in such a way that they are easily visible to the viewers. If the fonts are hard to read, or the logo is over-crowded with too many colors, it tends to irritate the viewer, who is more likely not to recognize your logo next time he sees it. Whereas, simple and easy to recognize logo will allow the viewer to memorize it at a glance. If your current logo has necessary message buried that irritates the viewer in finding the purpose of your business, then a logo redesign is a turnkey solution to draw attention of the viewers.

3. The style of your logo is another very important factor. There may be several things that you look for and want to put in your logo. But at the same time you should keep in mind that the style should be similar to the aspects like the type of your business or the kind of your target audience. If the logo you own does not suitably portray your business purpose to the old customers, logo redesign is necessary in order to carry targeted message accurately and efficiently.

4. Logo design trends have been constantly changing. New trends like Web 2.0, Waves, and Organic 3D make logos look fresh and eye-catching. In addition, contemporary logos reflect the company’s image as an innovative and modern. Thus, if your logo is not according to contemporary logo design trends, you will be seen as old world compared to competition. Would you want that to happen or would you prefer redesigning your logo...

5. Take into account, how you are going to use your logo on different marketing and advertising mediums like billboards, brochures, letterheads, pens, buttons etc., your logo is meant to be versatile, and its design should bestowed to any use imaginable. But, if your logo is not compatible with all the available mediums, it’s better to consider a redesign.

In short, your company’s logo is one of the key elements to its potential success. Therefore, redesigning your logo with slight changes, not only looks appealing to customers, but also helps you in increasing the sales.

*Marketing Amnesia thanks Ben Johnson for contributing to it. Neither does Marketing Amnesia nor the regular author of this blog endorse Logoinn in anyway.
 
 

Was reading this Andrew Chen Post which discusses the “Friends” on Facebook vs “Followers” on Twitter model for connecting people. Interesting thoughts for sure, you should check out his blog.

We had also discussed this earlier on Marketing Amnesia to understand which model would best suit Muziboo, an upcoming startup encouraging young musicians to get an audience.


Friend vs Fan vs Follow

Anyway getting back, I noticed Cindy Alvarez’s comment on Andrew Chen's post saying...

“Despite the reputation that Twitter has as "a bunch of people tweeting what they had for breakfast", I think that the one-sided follow model *encourages* quality.

In a dual-accept friend model, there is both more context (you know if they have a penchant for sarcasm or deliver jokes with accompanying funny voices, etc.) and a certain relaxing of standards (you like them, so you don't hold their fondness for embarrassingly bad movies against them). With a public timeline that anyone-can-follow, you can't count on having ANY context - each tweet must stand alone and provide value.”


It really got me thinking, about

1. As Twitter gets more crowded, it will get more difficult to separate the noise from the value. The winners on this network will undoubtedly be thought leaders who share useful content, not once but every single time.

2. The value of Twitter by itself will depend on Cindy Alvarez’s prophecy coming true. Though Twitter has in some parlance been termed as huge conversation, In reality Twitter is more of a broadcasting service with a feedback loop.

There is value in the model undoubtedly, especially for thought leaders and wannabe thought leaders. Value for the other users is dependent on quality one way posts and links from the thought leaders they follow. Conversation with these thought leaders is possible now, but as Twitter grows it will get more difficult. Just check Wefollow.com to see the 100 thousand odd followers that Twit people command. And this is when Twitter is yet to see mainstream adoption. A conversation tool? Really?

4. Facebook with its closed network encourages relatively stronger relationships and legitimate conversation. Yes it can degenerate into seeing status messages like "I hate Mondays". But the value on Facebook is that, though individual messages lack quality, they still help you stay connected with people you know (Your Inner Circle)

5. Lastly this got me thinking about reading more comments on the blogs I read
 
What do you think? How would you define value from these networks? Will you define it differently? Are Facebook and Twitter comparisons justified or are these networks different animals. Will one kill the other? Probably unlikely...

And before you go, follow me on Twitter. I do promise to add value there :)

 
 

A perfect start to your date at a restaurant – wheel in with your girl and hand over the keys to a valet. You don’t search for parking, nor do you risk a ticket and the best part is you don’t have to walk back a long long way to the restaurant. Can’t ask for more, right?

Wrong! Picture This…

You have a great dinner, stuff yourself with dessert, pay your bill and walk out with the chocolate still melting in your mouth. You hand over the token to the valet who then runs to find your key, your car and drive it back to you. Suddenly you have a problem.

All this while, you are on the road, in the dust, the rain, the heat, and everything else to spoil your date. Not to mention the probability of the moral police beating up your girl for wearing the sexy outfit that so impressed you! So what should have ended as a perfect evening at a restaurant suddenly ends with you getting impatient, jittery and a wee bit irritated.


I have always hated valet service because they never closed this loop on customer service. Well, until now.

We caught dinner at Zara, the Tapas Bar yesterday and when I asked for the cheque they asked me for my valet parking token. So by the time I was done paying for my bill, my car was waiting for me outside. No waiting and a perfect end to a lovely evening thanks to Zara.

The real value in the Valet and probably any other service is if the experience at the last touch point is at least as good as the first... The better thing to do of course is to Save the Best for Last

P.S. - This is my first attempt at a cartoon strip. Hopefully it will get better with time :)