Archive for March, 2010

Mar 31

Posted by David

Posted in Clients

Client News: Rally Up, it's time to rally

Have you heard of location based services?  We bet you have.  Well, our old friends from 12seconds.tv are up to new tricks.  Today they’re launching a new iPhone / iPad application called Rally Up.  It’s a geo-location service, similar in some ways to Four Square, Gowalla, and others.  What’s different is a specific focus on privacy, and a mission to serve your “real friends,” people like your spouse, your family and your close friends.  The people who really should know your location.  Download it now to see for yourself (it’s even free.)

Rally Up has a number of features that differentiate it, both from a privacy perspective, as well as being simply… different. One is the slider bar, that let’s you set a level of interaction for each friend on Rally Up.  Another is the ability to not only check in at a given location, but to check in as being “on the way” to a location. If I see that Jim has checked in as “on the way to Starbucks,” chances are excellent that I will direct meesage him and ask for a latte.  Because that’s another different feature, the ability to send messages directly inside Rally Up.

You can read more about the different features on the some of the blogs that covered today’s launch.  The list of publications that covered is below, and we’ll update throughout the day as we see more posts.  Congrats to the team at Rally Up – the app looks great, and now we know where you are.  If you let us.

Mar 24

Posted by Ken Yeung

Posted in Social Media, Stage Two

Ten FourSquare Badges We'd Like Made To Honor Community Service

At this year’s South by Southwest interactive conference (SxSWi), geo-location service, FourSquare, released 16 new badges that users could earn – all of which had different requirements. For those using services like FourSquare or even GoWalla, the interest in using these tools is pretty much for the entertainment value, meaning that they don’t care how many “points” they get, just that they received a new badge which would entitle them to bragging rights. With this great appeal towards these virtual badges, we here at Stage Two thought that some more meaningful ones should be created for FourSquare users to truly “connect” a bit more deeply.

Stage Two loves to do community service and with all the great talk about geo-location, we felt that this is just another evolutionary step FourSquare could take to add some more meaning to their ever-popular application. We’ve done a few service projects here at our agency and had a lot of fun in the process. For me, it was great getting to help others and these badges could be used as a way to pay homage to  those who spend their time helping others as well.  Here are the ten new badges Stage Two would love to see show up – cheesy names and all:

  1. Spare a Pint? Badge – (Blood Bank) One of the things people think about when they’re helping others is giving blood. So now you’ve unlocked the “Spare a Pint?” badge on FourSquare! Just like it’s as easy as getting a Starbucks badge on FourSquare just for checking in and getting your coffee, getting this badge should be just as simple, except you’re going to be saving someone’s life as a result of getting the badge.
  2. Serve Em Up Badge – (Soup Kitchen or Food Bank) How often do you feed the less fortunate? In unlocking this badge, you’ve spent some time at your local food bank making sure their food gets delivered to others. And if all you need to do is package some ocra or bundle some cabbage or oranges, that’s the least you can do to earn this badge.
  3. Welcome Home Badge – (Habitat for Humanity) Usually in FourSquare you have to create a venue or have one already established in order to check-in, but in this case, you’re going to put the cart before the horse…you’re going to get a badge for helping to create place that someone’s family will be able to call their home.
  4. Delivery Boy/Girl – Badge – (Meals on Wheels) Get this badge to show your support and commit to saying that you’re proud to drive around and deliver meals to the needy.
  5. Biggie Badge – (Big Brother/Big Sister) A lot of children participate in Big Brother/Bisg Sister and need our help to stay out of trouble. Whether that’s mentoring someone to do better in school or just being there for them, everyone who helps out at this organization and checks in on FourSquare should be given this badge – it can proudly be displayed and tell others that that person wants to help others succeed in life. Bravo!
  6. Kris Kross Badge – (Red Cross) Not one to exploit tragedies, but if you decide to help in an emergency, whether it’s local, statewide, national or even international, you should be recognized for your actions and good deeds in helping out the Red Cross. This is in honor of all the volunteers who risk their lives to help others.
  7. Bell Ringer Badge – (Salvation Army) Helping those less fortunate is more than just a tax write-off at the end of the year. This badge is in honor of those people at the Salvation Army who spend their days helping those who can’t help themselves.
  8. Think of the Children Badge – (Toys for Tots) Young children should not go without the toys they need. Donating toys to those kids for the Toys for Tots program is a noble gesture and this badge gratefully acknowledges your charity.
  9. Red Ribbon Badge – (AIDS Walk) A lot of people sadly die each year from AIDS. By participating in an AIDS awareness and event, you’ve earned this badge that will go along with your red ribbon to remember those with this terrible disease.
  10. Good Samaritan Badge - Earned by gaining any five of the above badges (or by going to five different volunteering venues/facilities).

There you have it…ten badges we’d like FourSquare to create to honor those who volunteer their time helping to make the community a better place. What other badges do you think FourSquare should make that would promote community service or other worthy causes?

Mar 22

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Marketing

10 Essential Tips for Marketing Your Brand on Chatroulette

Chatroulette is the biggest new thing to hit the Internet, and with over 20,000 active users at any given time, it’s a surefire bet for the future of social media marketing.  Here’s some important tips for how to get the most out of Chatroulette for your product, service, or brand.

  1. Listen before you talk.
    This is the most common advice across social media marketing, but it’s especially true for Chatroulette.  If you talk first, you might alienate a potential influencer for your brand.  Wait to see what they have to say.  Also, there’s a lot of international users, so you may need to have a localized chatter (or even a distributed team) available.
  2. Enable your camera/microphone!
    Not having your camera on is like having a blog with no comments, it’s just going to create negative backlash.  You must have it on before you are truly engaging with the audience.
  3. Engage your audience
    If someone’s typing something, be ready to type back.  If you see a dancer, consider dancing yourself.  You want to make your brand seem very accessible to your new partner, and showing you are ready to engage is huge.  Definitely don’t ignore/mock whatever activities they are doing.  You also might want to have several masks/outfits available in case the occasion arises.
  4. Don’t worry if you get “nexted”
    Studies have shown the average user gets nexted several times per minute!  Don’t fret if it’s happening a lot, and don’t take it as a reflection on your brand.  That said, consider finding a more attractive person (male or female – both work), or funny outfit/mask (as mentioned above), to be your primary CR spokesperson.
  5. Never next first!
    You should always let the chatter “next” you first. Nexting is often taken as a form of rejection, and it’s a good way to build a bad impression to your potential community.  It’d be better to sit there quietly, as long as it might take, than next someone.  Note – if it appears the other person is not present, it is okay to next them, but you should write a note so they know it wasn’t personal.
  6. Cultivate your community
    Ultimately you want to empower others to market your brand, and in a positive way.  If you can turn random Chatroulette encounters into new brand ambassadors, it’s a huge win.  This is why you should think of each encounter as an opportunity to increase the positive image of your product, service, or company.
  7. Remember it’s a “conversation”
    Key to your effective social media engagement is having a conversation, not simply spouting facts or ads about your company.  Nobody wants to start a chat only to see some huge brand endorsement with no way to interact.  Show the human side of your organization and really get to know the people you talk to.
  8. Generously “thumbs up”
    As with any new community, there’s new lingo and culture to get used to.  By now we’re assuming you are familiar with nexting, but make sure you know about the “thumbs up”.  In Chatroulette, people might give you a thumbs up if they think you are being interesting, clever, funny, or doing any kind of activity they “like” in some way.  If you see someone doing something that seems like it’s got some effort, give em a thumbs up.
  9. Be transparent
    If you are chatting on your brand’s behalf, you really want to make sure people know it.  You can’t start some conversation then all of a sudden reveal that you are really doing it for marketing purposes.  Start open, and stay open, otherwise you’ll end up with backlash and it’ll be another example of social media gone wrong.
  10. Expect, and embrace, nudity
    You’re going to get some nudity, possibly a lot of it.  That’s okay.  In fact, if you really want to be open and engaging, you won’t next someone just because they are revealing themself.  Besides, if you can connect with someone while they are so vulnerable, it’ll really show how your company “gets” social media in a very community-oriented way.

Hopefully these tips will help you really extend your brand in a dynamic way.  Depending on the scale and preparedness of your organization, you may need to enlist expertise to help guide you.  We’d recommend looking for anyone who calls themself a “social media guru” – they’ll know what to do.

ps: this entire post is a joke.

pps: but while writing this post we actually came up with a a really fun idea for a brand to try something inventive on Chatroulette – if you are game, let us know and we can experiment together.

Mar 16

Posted by TeamS2

Posted in Clients, Gadgets

Pogoplug Launches Game Console Media Streaming and Offsite Backup

At Showstoppers, during this year’s CES, Pogoplug announced that soon users could stream all their digital media to their televisions through their Xbox 360 or PS3 using the Pogoplug system. Today this feature, along with enhanced data backup, goes live.

Starting today, your Xbox 360 or PS3 automatically sees Pogoplug connected drives you’ve chosen for this feature and the contents of other shared Pogoplugs. This means you can not only stream your videos from your hard drive on to your television, but you can also stream home videos of family and friends in the same way, no matter where the videos are in the world–provided they have given you access to the drive. Music and photos stream equally well.

Active Copy, the Pogoplug backup feature, is also being enhanced today. Active Copy enables users to backup folders on their computer to a Pogoplug connected drive. Whenever new files are added, or changes are made to an existing file within the Active Copy enabled folder, these files are automatically copied to a chosen destination folder. With today’s enhancements, users can also use Active Copy to automatically backup key files from one Pogoplug to another off-site Pogoplug, for additional safety and redundancy.

Both features came from user requests and both update to all Pogoplugs (first and second generation) worldwide through an automatic firmware upgrade today.

Coverage so far:

Engadget

Slashgear

CrunchGear

VentureBeat

Headline News

CNET

Gadget Review

Gizmodo

Electronista

Ubergizmo

SmallNetBuilder

IceFloe.eu

eHomeUpgrade

The Good NET Guide

jkOntheRun

Gadgetell

Mar 08

Posted by Ken Yeung

Posted in Marketing, Social Media

Why Companies Are Catching On To Social Media

Twitter’s attraction in the past year or so has been quite intriguing. For most companies, there’s probably still some confusion as to what it’s good for to generate leads, sales, profits, etc., but this number is slowly dwindling as the months go by. And in a sure sign of Twitter’s growing popularity, a study conducted by the Society of New Communications Research (SNCR) found out that in 2009, companies listed in the Fortune 500 were eagerly signing up and jumping on the Twitter bandwagon. It seems that these large brands like General Motors, Exxon Mobil, US Steel, General Electric, Proctor & Gamble and Boeing are finally understanding the potential Twitter can play across all spectrums of the communication channel.

Here are some other interesting statistics:

  • AdWeek reports that 35% of the Fortune 500 companies on Twitter had active accounts – meaning that they had posted something within the past 30 days.
  • With the top 100 companies, 47 of them actually had a Twitter account
  • 22% of all the Fortune 500 brands only had “public-facing corporate blogs”
  • 4 of the 5 top corporations consistently post to their Twitter account – Wal-Mart, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and GE
  • Insurance was the industry with the largest Twitter presence – 13 Fortune companies participating
  • 19%  of Fortune 500 corporations were using podcasting and 31% using video blogging

So what does this mean? From the standpoint of companies and brands, it shows that now the large companies are starting to pay attention to social media. In its infancy, social media was probably viewed by large corporations as something that couldn’t scale. However, more companies are now embracing it and what may have started out as a small experiment within brands like Wal-Mart, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and GE has exploded into being a major part of their marketing channel.

But why is Twitter becoming the medium of choice to communicate with customers instead of blogging? Sure, blogging will get you to post your own thoughts and get your message across, but when you compare the potential audience on Twitter versus the one currently visiting your blog, there’s a big difference. For one, you can send out a tweet to anyone  - just a random thought on Twitter and it’s not limited to being seen by the people following you. Secondly, you’re going to be able to see how viral your message can really get through retweets and commentary. Without wanting to sound cliche, you’re going to be able to join in the “conversation” in near ‘real-time” as well. Imagine being in a large reception area where people are talking about different things. You being there is representative of you being on Twitter. In walking around, you might hear something said about your company, brand and/or product OR something else not-related, but interesting. By you interjecting to be a part of that discussion, you’re engaging customers. You can’t necessarily do exactly that in a blog, or at least not in real-time. This is probably what companies are discovering and find that Twitter lets them relate to their customers on their level, NOT from the customer. This is pretty much the same thing with all other forms of social media.

So what is the power behind this social media and what is its appeal? It seems pretty clear that companies are starting to think more “outside the box” and seeing a little less clutter in social media than there are with other mediums like traditional advertising, radio/broadcast, websites, etc. Also, the statistics shown above are saying that these Fortune 500 companies are thinking that if they want to get involved with customers, they’re going to have to find a new way of reaching them – essentially going to where the customers are spending their time.

Source: AdWeek and iMediaConnection

Mar 02

Posted by TeamS2

Posted in Clients

Client News: WorldMate adds Executive Talent, Looks to Expand Partnerships

20 year wireless industry veteran, Jean Tripier, joins WorldMate as CEO today. Jean comes most recently from Good Technology, where he was Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Operating Officer and built the company’s OEM business from the ground up. Before Good, Tripier was Vice President of Corporate Development at international mobile giant Vodafone, overseeing the entire Asia Pacific region. Jean will lead discussions of co-branded deals, with travel brands looking for a quick-to-market mobile app. WorldMate recently signed one such deal with Virgin Blue.

Founding CEO Nadav Gur, remains with WorldMate. He will run business operations as the company’s Chief Commercial Officer.

Amir Kirshenboim, who was the company’s VP of Product Development from 2004-2007, returns now as CEO of  WorldMate Israel, where he will lead product innovation and technical development.  Since 2008, Amir has been Senior Vice President of Products at the video ringtone company, Vringo. He brought the product to leading industry partners such as Marvel Comics, Maxis and Etisalat and helped build a wide user base. Before originally joining WorldMate, Kirshenboim founded two mobile companies, DITIO Software Ltd. and Smart Mobile Applications.

We look forward to working with WorldMate as they continue to innovate and forge new co-branded partnerships that bring their best-in-class service to a wider audience of business and elite travelers.

Coverage so far:

tnooz.com

Simple Mobile Review

Mar 02

Posted by David

Posted in Clients

Client News: Share your VUDU viewing via Facebook and Twitter

VUDU, in the wake of their acquisition by Wal-Mart, is continuing to innovate and improve their streaming movie service.  The company has announced as of this morning a new social feature baked right into their user interface, specifically the ability to share a recently viewed movie (and how much they liked the movie) via a tweet or a Facebook status update.  Friends of the VUDU  customer who follow their updates in a given service will see an update that the viewer watched the movie in VUDU, and see how well they rated it (out of 5 stars).  If you happen to see the tweet or the Facebook update from within VUDU’s own native Facebook or Twitter application (inside VUDU Apps) then with one click you’ll be able to go watch that movie within the movie service app.

This is another gret example of why a streaming user interface offers maximum flexibility and advantage for VUDU.  They can quickly and easily push down new features as often as needed or useful. No software download by the user  or firmware upgrade for the device is necessary. The new feature just loads the next time a user turns on the service.  VUDU has been making feature updates at a rate of 1 ever 1-2 weeks since they launched this streaming UI, including theatrical trailers, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, and now social features to share recently watched movies on Twitter or Facbeook.
It’s especially gratifying to see VUDU continue to improve, innovate, develop and iterate their service hot on the heels of the announcement of their acquisition.  This company has one focus: to make the best darn streaming movie service in the world, and they continue to to pursue that calling no matter what else is going on.
We’ll update the list below with any coverage that we see.

Mar 01

Posted by Ken Yeung

Posted in Marketing

It's Easy To Make A Video, But Takes A Lot To Make It Viral

Last year, I was very fortunate enough to attend the Inbound Marketing Summit hosted by Chris Brogan and Justin Levy. It was there that I was first introduced to Tim Street, a video producer and social media marketer – perhaps better well known for French Maid TV. It was there that he brought up the topic of how to create a viral video. You know about a lot of them – you’ve probably seen them and also passed them along to your friends and family. They’re the ones that really catch on – like the one featuring Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent – remember that one? Well since that conference, I’ve been hearing a lot of people asking what does it take to create a viral video. The answer is a lot of work…just because you can create a video does not mean that it’s automatically going to be a hit on the Internet and that millions of viewers will want to watch it.

According to Street, there are four components to making a video viral:

  • Make it easy to share.
  • Make it OK to share.
  • Controversial – takes risks.
  • Emotionally engaging.

The first part is pretty easy – make it easy to share. If you’re going to create a video, don’t just put it on your website. Make sure that it’s placed in a high-traffic area, like YouTube or Facebook where people can find it and refer others using other viral tools. If you put it only in one spot and don’t help people share it on social networks, then you just have a video, NOT a viral one. People love it when the options are there to make their lives easier. If you make it too difficult, chances are that they’ll simply watch it and give up on sending it to friends. Why? Because no video is that good to endure such difficulties. Keep it simple and accessible.

When talking about being “OK to share“, I believe that you shouldn’t make it too risque – but I’m sure it depends on the tastes of your audience. In other words, make sure that it’s safe for work and that your message gets through without diminishing the intent of the video or being too vulgar that it soon gets pulled off the website. But let’s not confuse this with the third component: be controversial – take risks. A plain video with no message about which side to take probably doesn’t go anywhere, but being controversial always sells and can be a good attention grabber – if anything, people who have seen your video will tell others about it just so they can either support or admonish it later. Make sure that you take a risk and play on your issue’s provocative nature.

Lastly, never forget that people become invested in something when they are emotionally engaged. Videos of Susan Boyle were a hit because people felt compelled to watch and the emotion they felt helped to spread the movie clip further. Find a way to get the viewers involved…whether that’s a comedic bit, happy ending, anger or sadness, emotions are a powerful tool in video virality.

So now you’ve created a viral video, what steps can you take in order to help people pay attention to it?

Through relationships, strategic placements and syndication can you achieve virality – at least according to a ClickZ article.

One of the first things to do is to make sure some influential people in that industry take a look at the video and see if they’ll pass it along. It is also recommended that you penetrate the video networks like YouTube, Vimeo, Blip, etc and see who is doing the most sharing. Just like you might do with a story idea to a journalist or how you pitch an influencer, doing video marketing is no different. It would behoove you to go ahead and start building a relationship with some of the people in the community and after a while, when you’ve earned their trust, you can go ahead and see if they would be interested in your video. Granted, simply being friends with them will not guarantee that your video will be shared – in fact, at that point, it depends on whether your video is good to begin with. You can also tap into some video seeding services like TubeMogul and VidMetrix for help or talk to social media enthusiasts either in your company or agency you work to see if they have any leads.

As for strategic placement, if you have money in your budget, you might want to consider doing some paid placement. You’re not paying for people to share your video, but you’re just non-chalantly placing your video where the most trafficked areas on the site are. For example, you could have your video on the front page of YouTube where that’s the starting point for millions of people everyday to find interesting things to watch. That alone could generate the returns you seek.

Lastly, make sure your video is syndicated. I’m sure this goes in line with the principle we discussed earlier of making it easy to share, but just to re-emphasize that you want people to easily pass along your video. Don’t be afraid to let influencers embed the video on their website or other networks. Like it’s written in the ClickZ article: “Let your viewers decide where and how they want to view your videos.“  Don’t disrupt the process or interfere in how they share.

While you might think that the above steps are easy to do, I must caution you against underestimating what it takes to build a viral video. Yes, it is easy to create a video, but when you want to begin trying to make it viral, you need to balance between making sure people find your work organically and without pressure  AND that it’s also not bordering on being too marketing/sales-like. The best viral videos are user-generated and anything commercial may be frowned upon.

A closing thought?

Advertisers will always have a difficult time playing in the viral space. People want pure entertainment. Even the most minimally branded videos are often rejected.

Where will you draw the line on your video?