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August 22, 2011

Facebook vs. LinkedIn: Round 2

I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to my prediction that Facebook will destroy LinkedIn. The debate has continued on the article’s comments page, on Twitter, and on the Recruiting Animal radio show.

Image courtesy of Gino21410
I’d like to address some of the many good points made on both sides of the issue.
In the comments at ERE.net, Martin Snyder wrote “For my part, I don’t think social is in the DNA of LinkedIn (or they could have BEEN Facebook)” and concludes that “Products and services that enable that evolution will thrive, and recruiting, or the act of hooking up people and opportunity, will be more and more central to everything.”
I agree. Facebook combines social interactions, openness to third-party apps, and brand engagement to create a very compelling environment for recruiters. LinkedIn has many of the same capabilities, but little apparent willingness to innovate.
Which leads me to my next point. Andy Headworth of Sirona Consulting, who calls my post “utter rubbish,” pointed out that “BeKnown didn’t choose to bypass LinkedIn; it had its API access revoked by LinkedIn because they were trying to use the valuable LinkedIn data to populate the BeKnown personal profiles via Facebook.”
So LinkedIn wasn’t just bypassed by Monster, it actively chased Monster away? That’s a  perfect example of LinkedIn’s lack of vision. That decision to cede an innovation to not just one but two rivals may go down in corporate history alongside Borders’ decision in 2001 to let Amazon handle the store’s online book business. Ten years later, who came out on top?
Even recruiters who don’t agree with my prediction that LinkedIn will be irrelevant by the end of 2013 still see that the professional site is in trouble.
In an article titled “Why Facebook Will Not Destroy LinkedIn,” LatinOcean founder Jorge Albinagorta wrote, “I am not saying it will never happen; rather I am arguing that the social links – which can nurture professional links (e.g. I want to work at Adidas ‘cause I love the brand, and my cousin tells me training for salespeople is great) – are at this stage a huge haystack to look for needles.” He goes on to add, “I am looking forward to seeing a network, environment, app, etc. giving LinkedIn a run for its money.”
On the lively and entertaining Recruiting Animal show, I was challenged about numbers. “Animal” suggested that many of Facebook’s 750 million users weren’t of working age or lived outside the US. Let’s take a closer look.
According to CheckFacebook.com, a daily tracker for the social network, 153 million users are in the United States. LinkedIn states that 60 million of its members are US residents. So Facebook provides an American audience more than two and half times as large as LinkedIn.
According to the Pew Research Center, more than 24 million American Facebook users are between the ages of 18-22, the demographic either thinking about internships or summer jobs, or about to enter the workforce. The same study says 3.6 million American LinkedIn users are between the ages of 18-22. Facebook wins by a margin of more than six to one.
Factor in the National Association of Colleges and Employers survey of  20,000 graduating seniors. Ninety-one percent had Facebook pages; only 32% had LinkedIn pages. How will LinkedIn capture that other 59% as they enter the job market? What is LinkedIn doing to appeal to them? If they do nothing, won’t those grads just stay on Facebook and conduct their job searches from there?

Image courtesy of Kazukiokumura
As bleak a picture as I’ve painted, however, many think LinkedIn still has a chance. Fellow ERE.net blogger Ernest Feiteira wrote that “[Facebook] is not LinkedIn’s real competitor. BranchOut or BeKnown are. If LinkedIn realizes this too and they launch an app on FB, LinkedIn will wipe out BranchOut, BeKnown and other LinkedIn clones.”
Is LinkedIn up to the challenge? Will Facebook let its opportunity slip away? Can Google+ change the game? The conversation continues.
July 18, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Social Media Expert

A quick search of the phrase “Social Media” on Indeed.com just now served up 1,923 jobs with that phrase in the title. Actual opportunities range from Social Media Managers, Coordinators, Strategists and Specialists to Social Media Community Managers. Ever wonder what these people actually do? Great news, today you’re in luck. I’m Jason Ginsburg, the Director of Digital Branding at BRANDEMiX and this is my story.
At BRANDEMiX, we teach companies how to go from Social Media Starters to Social Media Superstars, and you might say that I’m the guy that puts the star in Superstar. I’m a social media strategist and addict, plugged in to cyber conversations 24/7 and continuously working to find new ways of keeping those dialogues going, for us and for our clients.
Half of my day involves listening. I track what people are saying about the brand or company, and monitor where they’re saying them. Then I respond.
I comment on whatever is happening in the industry or region, or refer to world events, or even just the weather – sometimes just to prove that a real person is running the show. I retweet and re-post anything interesting from the incoming stream, and I’ve set up special news feeds just for relevant keywords. I express sympathy towards someone who experienced poor customer service and show encouragement if someone wants to share a video. I engage with the audience wherever its mood leads.
The conversation can be quite lively and always keeps me on my toes. When a matter gets serious, I make sure to pass it along to the client for immediate attention.
I also run the social sites for BRANDEMiX, where I discuss online branding and marketing with other professionals.



All this time, automated posts that I scheduled earlier in the week have been going out.  That’s when I go into research mode. I scour the web for the latest online trends and tools that can help connect our clients’ and employer brands with their desired audience.
This week I discovered Roost before the New York Times did. I got my Google+ invitation weeks ago. Today I’m following developments in augmented reality and watching how Chatter and Yammer are changing companies’ internal communications. I also take this time to read the smartest, most innovative blogs for inspiration.
Hold on a second- it’s time for another quick check of the livestream – I never want to let a question or complaint sit for too long.
Let’s move on to the multimedia part of my day. Some contests (we call them Sweeps) and campaigns require photos or videos, or even PowerPoint presentations. I upload media to multiple sites, tag them for the best SEO, and respond to any comments on the existing photos and videos. This week I was stymied by the inability to do a bulk upload of some pics. I expressed my frustration in the form of a tweet to the company, and in 5 minutes, I had a reply tweet that said the bulk uploader is in development. Things like that make my day.
OK- time for blogging. I create content for our clients, either consumer-facing or internal, such as an employee newsletter. After writing, it’s back to – you guessed it – the social sites, to make some final posts, follow some last links, and schedule some content for the coming days.
Despite what you’ve just read, the mercurial nature of social media ensures that no two days are the same. My success is measured in business results and I am constantly refining my strategies and tactics based on desired outcomes and pre-established objectives, whether that’s friends, fans or followers.
What else is on the horizon? Well, I can’t reveal all my secrets.
Want to know more about my exciting social media life? Connect with me at @BRANDEMiX or our Facebook page.

June 26, 2011

This Week in Social Media

– Mobile marketing took a big step forward when American Express announced a new partnership with Foursquare. The social networking app allows cardholders to link their Foursquare profiles to their cards, giving them access to specials without the need for coupons. When a cardholder sees a special they want, they check in to the location and “load” the discount onto their card, and their credit card statement confirm it. While only available at three merchants so far, I predict this innovative partnership will spread to other credit card companies and to other social networks, including Facebook.

The takeaway: Mobile is the next great frontier in shopping, socializing, and job searching. Is it part of your social media strategy?



– UP2U, a new stick gum from the makers of Mentos, launched an aggressive social media campaign ahead of its product launch. Though the gum isn’t yet sold anywhere in the US, the UP2U Facebook page neared 100,000 likes this week. Mentos offered free gum to the first 1,000 people who liked the page, but even after that milestone was hit, the promotion continued to go viral. The campaign should hit a whole new level next month when Mentos asks its Facebook fans to provide the name of friends who would like free samples.

The takeaway: Even without a product, UP2U has created fun, opinionated community by asking questions on its Facebook wall, all of which include the phrase “it’s up to you.” Chew on this smart blend of branding and engagement.

– Jason Valdez, an ex-convict in Salt Lake City, found time during a 16-hour police standoff to update his Facebook status. Friends and family members responded to him in real time, offering everything from pleas to “do the right thing” to, in one case, alerting Valdez to a SWAT officer hiding in the bushes. The standoff is over and the hostage is safe, but SLC police are still trying to determine if anyone who commented on Valdez’s Facebook wall should be charged with obstruction of justice or hampering a police investigation. Authorities are also debating whether Valdez’s posts themselves are a crime.

The takeaway: Social media is changing every type of interaction, and no one is totally certain what the new rules are. We’re all pioneers, so don’t be afraid to try.



– Lastly, this week my company BRANDEMiX partnered with the US Open to promote their July 7 job fair, where the National Tennis Center and all its hiring partners will be accepting resumes and conducting interviews to fill thousands of positions at this year’s tennis tournament. For this project, we created a microsite, a Twitter account and a Facebook Page.

The takeaway: Check out our Team US Open sites and tell me what you think!
June 11, 2011

Social Media PR Disasters: “United Breaks Guitars”

Social media has given brands unprecedented access to its customers, but we may forget that the customers also have access to those same communication tools and are able to broadcast their messages to the world.
Sometimes those messages are critical of a company. How do brands respond? Over the next few months, I’ll look at the way brands have missed, or exploited, opportunities for good publicity. This week, we’ll see what happens when a little-known musician takes on a major airline.

The Brand
United Airlines
The Incident
In 2008, on a United Airlines flight at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, the Sons of Maxwell, a rock group led by David Carroll, witnessed baggage handlers throwing their guitars on the tarmac. When Carroll arrived at his destination, he found that his $3,5000 Taylor guitar had been broken. Carroll pursued compensation from United for nine months, but the company never took responsibility and ultimately denied his claim.
The Problem
Carroll wrote a song about the incident and posted the music video on YouTube. After three days, it had received over 500,000 views. (It currently has over 10 million). The song became a hit on iTunes as well. Carroll promised that two more songs about United’s poor customer service were on the way.
The Response
After just 18 hours, United began offering apologies through Twitter. However, the airline’s Facebook Page made no mention of the incident, and the Page’s press release tab, an obvious platform for communicating the company’s official response, provided no additional information. The United Airlines YouTube channel quickly filled up with negative comments, which the airline neither replied to nor removed. Eventually, the airline made amends by donating $3,000 to the Thelonious Monk Jazz Institute (at Carroll’s request), but that action didn’t indicate an improvement in baggage handling or a change of policies.
The Result
Carroll’s second song, a faux love ballad for a United customer service rep, was less successful but still a modest hit. His third song, in which Carroll describes being contact by other passengers who had had poor experiences with United, was more conciliatory. Carroll eventually began giving speeches on customer service to corporations around the country. He even flew United again – though on a flight to Denver to give a presentation, the airline lost his luggage. And Social Media Today, following an analysis of the story, concluded that “United Airlines did follow the first rule of crisis communications by apologizing and trying to make amends.  It’s their failure to leverage and integrate their online channels that is at issue.”
The Takeaway
So what are the lessons from “United Breaks Guitars”?
Drive people to your own turf. United had the platforms to control the flow of information, but neglected its own Facebook Page and YouTube channel, letting critics take over.
Respond immediately. How many views must a critical video get before a company responds? Carroll’s song became popular so quickly that many companies would have struggled to keep up. But United had at least some of response before two days had passed.
If necessary, make the change: Look at how Delta changed its baggage policy for military personnel after an Army reservist posted a video about having to pay a fee to check a fourth bag on a flight home from Afghanistan. Other airlines quickly eliminated their own fee. The entire story took only a few days to be resolved.
As “United Breaks Guitars” shows, while great customer service rarely stays with us, bad customer service drives people to vent their frustrations online. Some of the most vicious – and popular – content on the internet involves consumers taking their revenge against brands that have wronged them. But brands can swing public opinion back in their favor by acting with speed, grace, and humility.
March 20, 2011

The 4 Words You Want to Hear from your Agency Partner



It’s the most important words you can hear from your agency partner.

It has the power to change your company in ways you never realized.

It has nothing to do with money or deliverables or logistics.

Can you guess what it is?

“I have an idea.”

They may say other words to you, like “solutions.” That’s a good term, but it implies that you have “problems.” The branding world isn’t so binary. If there are only problems and solutions, then what are opportunities? What are experiments?

Did your agency partner mention a “plan”? Plans are fine, but they come after ideas. Planning too early can lead to rigidity. If circumstances change and the plan is no longer valid, do you change the plan, scrap the plan…or try to change the circumstances? Plans often mean a great deal of time and energy and shouldn’t be conceived without your input.

Your agency partner might say they have an “answer.” This can be useful, but the right answer requires the right question; are you sure they asked the right one? And what if the question has multiple answers?

Solutions, plans, and answers are all right, but nothing beats an idea.

An idea has the potential to change your entire company. Weren’t Google and Twitter founded on very simple ideas? Walt Disney’s idea was that an amusement park should entertain both children and adults. Ray Kroc’s idea was that a Big Mac should taste the same in New York as it did in Tokyo.

An idea shows that your agency partner has been thinking about your company. They’ve considered your strengths, your weaknesses, your needs, and your goals. And all those factors have coalesced into something that they’re excited to share with you. It may only be a spark, but it could light a wildfire. After all, single idea from your agency partner can open up new revenue streams, launch the creation of new products, or change your entire marketing strategy.

Ideas are powerful things. Arguably all of human progress has relied on one person creating a concept and then spreading it to others. Flight was once only an idea. So was the car, and the camera, and the computer. The light bulb was such a great invention that it now symbolizes all ideas. America is an idea; it reaches across borders and unites people from many different backgrounds.

So if your agency partner hasn’t said “I have an idea” in a while, here’s an idea:

Find a new agency!