Friday, October 23, 2009

Coca-Cola 'Expedition 206'

In 2010, Coca-Cola is sending a team of Happiness Ambassadors around the world to visit 206 countries in 365 days.

Their mission: Find out what makes people happy.

According to Coca-Cola:

In January 2010, a team of three travelers will begin an unprecedented journey. A mission. An expedition. A quest to visit in 365 days 206 countries where Coca-Cola is sold. These three travelers are more than mere explorers–they are Happiness Ambassadors, and they will seek and share the optimism and happiness of Coca-Cola from Aruba to Zimbabwe and everywhere in between. They will participate in some amazing events including the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the World Expo in Shanghai.

Throughout the year-long journey, these Happiness Ambassadors will be sharing their blog posts, tweets, videos, interviews and pictures so you can follow their adventures in every country along the way.

But first we need your help. We need you to help us select the lucky travelers who will undertake this exciting and record-breaking journey. Which Ambassador team will uncover happiness in every corner of the world? It’s up to you. Check out the team profiles, vote for your favorite and let the journey begin.

The campaign is called 'Expedition 206' and will run throughout 2010.

There is an online voting being done to choose which teams should be preferred to undertake the journey, from a shortlist of nine finalists. The winners will begin their journey on 1 January in Madrid and end it in Atlanta on 31 December, at the World of Coca-Cola museum.

Mash-up Social Media Strategy – USP

It will be documented via the official Expedition 206 website as well as on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Flickr.

The public can engage with the campaign by acting as virtual tour guides, making suggestions as to where the ambassadors should go and what they should do when they are there.

"This mash-up of social media — online photo galleries, video clips, blogs, microblogs, social networking — combined with an amazing journey, enthusiastic travellers and a theme of happiness is a great way for us to connect with people around the world.” – Adam Brown, director of digital communications and social media at Coca-Cola

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

America's Best Young Entrepreneurs 2009 - BusinessWeek

BusinessWeek readers nominated a record number of young entrepreneurs.

Here is the list
1. Ascension Aircraft
What It Does: Aircraft sales and leasing
Founder: Jamail Larkins, 25
Web Site:
Based: Augusta, Ga.

What It Does: Online collaboration tool
Founders: Aaron Levie, 24, and Dylan Smith, 24
Web Site:
Based: Palo Alto, Calif.

3. Click To Client
What It Does: Online marketing agency
Founder: Shama Kabani, 24
Web Site:
Based: Dallas

4. Emergent
What It Does: Renewable energy consulting
Founders: Jesse Gossett, 23 (left); Jayson Uppal, 23 (center); and Chris Jacobs, 21 (right)
Web Site:
Based: Boston

5. I Bec Creative
What It Does: Web development and graphic design
Founder: Becky Stockbridge, 25
Web Site:
Based: Portland, Me.

6. Intern Queen
What It Does: Internship placement consultancy
Founder: Lauren Berger, 25
Web Site:
Based: Los Angeles

7. ModCloth
What It Does: Online marketplace for indie designer fashion and decor
Founders: Eric Koger, 25, and Susan Koger, 24
Web Site:
Based: Pittsburgh

8. NoteHall
What It Does: Online marketplace for class notes
Founders: Sean Conway, 25 (right); Justin Miller, 21(far right); B.J. Stephan, 24 (left); Fadi Chalfoon, 23 (second from left)
Web Site:
Based: Tucson, Ariz.

9. Trunk Club
What It Does: Online clothes shopping service for men
Founder: Joanna Van Vleck, 26
Web Site:
Based: Bend, Ore.

10. Tumblr
What It Does: Microblogging platform
Founder: David Karp, 23
Web Site:
Based: New York

See the full slide show of 25 U.S. Entrepreneurs Ages 25 and Under

Yahoo's "It's Y!ou" Campaign didnt click - YouGov

There's evidence that Yahoo's $100 million "It's Y!ou" ad campaign might actually be hurting the company's brand. A company called YouGov interviews 5,000 people a day and asks them about brands. For Yahoo, they asked "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, was it positive or negative?"

YouGov then gives the company a score between -100 and 100, compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive.

Here's the bad news for Yahoo (YHOO). Since the launch of "It's Y!ou" campaign on September 28th, Yahoo's buzz score dropped from a 35.4 to a score of 25.5 as of yesterday, Monday, October 12th.

Source: Business Insider, Silicon Alley Insider

Friday, October 9, 2009

Evolution of Social Media: The next phase

A powerful tool to understand customers and increase ROI. Next phase of Social Media will not monitor but merge business intelligence to analyze & take effective measures

Over the past few years social media has emerged as a powerful platform not only for connecting likeminded people online but also to understand specific preferences of different niche groups. There are a number of such examples. Not just the big brands but even the small and medium sized businesses are making their presence felt through this platform and are also introducing innovative marketing campaigns to leverage this highly lucrative platform. Few companies have been able to garner impressive ROI, one such example is of Dell, the company made more than 3 million USD using Twitter as a medium to reach out to its existing and potential customers. There are many other examples.

It seems that the life cycle evolution of social media is waiting for the next giant leap. One can classify the evolution of social media so far into three phases;

• First Phase: began with one or two sites and then graduated to networking sites like Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, Wikis, Blogs, Video and Picture sharing.

• Second Phase: Techies coined the term Web 2.0 to make their presence felt and interesting applications were introduced.

• Third Phase: The current phase, where digital marketing evolved from the web marketing era and became synonymous with an integrated digital marketing concept that imbibed web 2.0 and mobile marketing. Companies realized the potential and power of this combined Digital Marketing Concept and came up with innovative marketing campaigns. Thanks to the creative and digital agencies for these path-breaking concepts.

One common trait in all the innovative marketing campaigns is that despite huge engagements & participation by the target audiences that resulted in sales, companies used social media platforms to reach out to their customers and engage them with interesting tools instigating them to buy. Dell is a unique example where they approached the customers with the core objective of listening to their opinion and getting their feedback. An interesting fact is that the company used this information to align its marketing and sales approach to digital platforms.

It is clear that just Listening to the social media consumer is no longer enough. It is time for companies to think out of the box and not just use social media platforms to make their presence felt. They should get involved in different ways, such as product/services conceptualization and development, positioning, communication, offers/discounts etc. Basically, use social media to understand what people are talking about, understand their viewpoint and preferences, gather insights, identify their problems and opportunities, and reach out to them with much more efficient marketing strategy. Brands also need to be more flexible in how they approach social media, avoiding “One size fits all” approach to marketing.

Another important aspect is to merge the marketing concept with localized touch i.e. one should not forget that the basic definition of social media is community based networking. Although the platform is globally available; it is advisable to transform the global campaign with a localized digital marketing strategy e.g. in Asia and Europe, where every country has different and unique culture, socio-economic divides.

From a technology perspective, to complement this approach, Google has taken a path-breaking approach once again with SideWikis.

What’s in the Future?
The fourth phase: which is yet to begin can take forward the concept of SideWikis leading to the emergence of technologies based on human intelligence and will track and analyze all the opinions voiced by users on social media platforms. These tools will not only track comments but also act like a typical sales or BD executive who categorizes similar opinions and approach them with a right proposition.

Popular social media platforms like blogs, facebook, twitter, discussion boards etc. can be integrated with technologies that can carry out the following processes:
• Track user comments and opinions
• Understand requirements and talk like human minds
• Categorize the opinions and comments
• Create graphs and charts using business intelligence
• Provide a user interface for the BD and Sales executives to access list of potential targets with their exact requirements and approach them with the right sales or brand awareness or image enhancement proposition

One major example in this context is Crimson Hexagon's VoxTrot listening platform. Crimson Hexagon's VoxTrot listening platform provides companies with actionable insight into consumer opinion of their brand, product, or market. VoxTrot technology can identify opinion from large quantities of text, whether it's an in-house content repository or the vast blogosphere. Crimson Hexagon's VoxTrot Opinion Monitor has its roots in a statistical algorithm created by Gary King, a professor at Harvard University. Proven in research and commercial settings, the technology is patent-pending and already in use with global brands.

This technology analyzes the vast social internet (blog posts, forum messages, Tweets, etc.) by identifying statistical patterns in the words used to express opinions on different topics. It uses these patterns to calculate the percentage of opinion for reach opinion category, as defined by you, the business user. Competitive technologies, by contrast, simply count the number of mentions of different keywords or infer generic positive/negative sentiment. You can read about the technology in detail at following links:
- How a listening platform provides actionable insight
- Measuring brand equity in the age of big data

I would love to hear from you on this article, be it in response to what I have outlined here or your own thoughts on the subject. In case you have an opinion or viewpoint, let’s connect and discuss innovative options for the transformation of Social Media & Web 2.0 to the next level.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Intel-powered ‘Blogathon’ 2009

In July 2009, Intel launched a new range of ultra-low-voltage processors that enable PC brands to build ultra-thin notebooks offering long battery life and sophisticated processing capabilities in an easily portable form.

Objective: Intel wanted to demonstrate these lifestyle benefits more than ever…

Strategy: Intel tapped Singapore’s most influential tech and fashion bloggers to generate a profile for a visually uninspiring, but technologically exciting, product. Top 10 famous tech bloggers from Singapore were prepared to embark on a live 24-hour, non-stop, Intel-powered ‘Blogathon’.

1) Create maximum visibility for the slimline notebooks fitted with Intel’s range of ultra-low-voltage processors;
2) Bring the chip to life for consumers by making it relevant to their lifestyles;
3) Educate consumers on the performance of the Intel Core 2 Solo chip.

Execution plan (17 July - 18 July)

Hardware provider (Laptops): Lenovo

Sponsor (design and appearence): Singaporean fashion brand TANGS

Selection process of bloggers: An intensive audit was conducted to identify relevant, influential bloggers to participate in the event. An equal percentage of both ‘tech geeks’ and ‘fashionistas’ were engaged with a view to expanding brand equity between both groups.

Media channels & platforms A reality-TV-style video was aired on YouTube four days before the launch. It also served as material for the participants to include in their blogs. The video revealed the bloggers’ initial thoughts about the challenge alongside a sneak preview of their makeover experience at TANGS.

Microsite: A Flash-based microsite with blog aggregator was created to inspire the bloggers to create content over the 24-hour period.

Analytics: A tracking system was integrated on the microsite to ensure precise measurements usually unattainable in a blogger engagement programme (such as measuring the time spent per visitor on average per blog post).

BTL/On-ground support: To maintain a high level of interest during the event, attract on-ground traffic, and maintain a constant level of dialogue, real-time Twitter conversations were aired on LCD TV screens placed in each window display; a product demonstration booth allowed shoppers to try out the Lenovo laptops used by the bloggers; and trained product specialists from Lenovo provided on-site education on the laptops and the capabilities of Intel’s Core 2 Solo processor.

Digital agency: Ogilvy 360ยบ Digital Influence, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, responsible for the live integration of the visual capabilities of Flash

Blog platform: Wordpress, content management system

After the event, a video summarising the highlights was posted on YouTube.


Total hits on the micro-site: 3,705 people from 34 markets visited the microsite in five days; 88 per cent were from Singapore. The site helped build an organic database, with 353 votes cast on-site.

Total visitors / Blog participation: 3,958 unique visitors. A total of 140 blog posts were generated in 24 hours, averaging 5.8 blog posts per hour; 817 comments were posted in 24 hours, averaging 34 per hour. It was covered across eight news platforms, 51 external blogs, and a leading design portal,
With no prizes or activities created on the site to incentivise visitors, bloggers were challenged to create more engaging content than their rivals and to read and comment on posts. This resulted in 42,372 page-views in five days, averaging about 11.44 page-views per person; each visitor spent on average 12:04 minutes on the site, the equivalent of 24 30-second TV commercials watched consecutively in the same time period; the bounce rate was low at 32.42 per cent. Only three out of 10 visitors dropped out in under a minute, while around 10 per cent of visitors (300) viewed 20 pages or more.

Reference: Haymarket Media

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In-game Advertising - Next Big Thing in Digital Marketing

Video gaming is expanding in popularity across Asia Pacific and so is the practice of in-game advertising, as its offering available to marketers expands. In-game advertising (IGA) refers to the use of computer and video games as a medium in which to deliver advertising.

Companies like Google and Microsoft have already joined the bandwagon and are offering interesting propositions of in-game advertising. Microsoft, which bought Massive in May 2006, is a leader in placing dynamic advertising in games. The market is filled with many smaller players, such as a company called Double Fusion. But it's also attracting other big technology names, including Google, which bought AdScape Media for $23 million in 2007. The new ad format is provided by Massive Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft. In-game advertising is available through Microsoft Advertising across the region and campaigns are currently running in Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Microsoft showed off its Massive advertising platform in Sep 2007. Flashing high above 43rd Street were clips from a series of games that showed avatars stopping to view a movie trailer for the Hollywood blockbuster 300. A Toyota advertisement also lined the outfield wall in a baseball game that's played on Microsoft's Xbox game console.

"The idea is to have advertisements appear and fit in naturally to the games just as they would in real life. But these advertisements are also dynamic. So the ads can be updated or changed by the advertiser at any time." -- Jay Sampson, VP, North American and Asia Pacific sales for Massive, Microsoft's in-game advertising marketplace.

"In-game advertising provider Massive Inc., acquired by Microsoft in 2006, has signed up or renewed contracts with several publishers, notably EA, Blizzard Entertainment, THQ, and Activision. Eagerly anticipated games like Need for Speed: Shift will feature the technology that continuously collects 'anonymous' information about users, sends them to the Massive database for analysis, and downloads advertisements to be shown in the game.

"The games industry sees in-game advertising as a promising new revenue stream. Video Games with revenue expected to break the $10 billion mark this year and garner over $300 million in advertising investment, the gaming industry represents a strong marketing opportunity.

Video gaming offers the opportunity to connect with traditionally difficult-to-reach consumers-- young affluent males. It attains the fourth-highest reach (after TV, internet and radio) against teens and heavy gamers. Not only can in-game advertising efficiently reach key consumers, it can also reach them while they are actively engaged with the medium.

In order to maximize the value of in-game communication, several studies have examined the role of brands within video games and players' attitudes towards gaming and in-game communication. The goal has been to learn how best to use games to create meaningful relationships between brands and consumers.

The results are a set of insights and guidelines that will help deliver more effective in-game communication.”
-- Fran Kennish, Senior Partner, Director of Strategic Planning at MEC MediaLab

Industry figures suggest that such advertisement could increase profits for publishers by an extra $1 to $2 per game unit sold - a significant increase over the current $5 to $6 profit per unit.

Publishers see this revenue stream as a way to offset growing game development costs, which are estimated to rise up to $20 million per title for a 7th generation console. Some developers believe that the extra revenue will reduce the risk involved in a game development project, allowing them to experiment with more innovative game-play and new ideas.

In-game advertising has even replaced purchase price as a revenue model for some mobile phone games. In 2005, spending on in-game advertising was US $56 million, and this figure is estimated to grow to $1.8 billion by 2010 according to Massive Incorporated, although Yankee Group gives a lower estimate at $732 million.

Yankee Group revealed that the global in-game advertising market, which generated $77.7 million globally in 2006, continues to develop at an exponential rate. By 2011, worldwide in-game advertising expenditures (fixed product placement/static ads and dynamic ads) will grow to $971.3 million.

"As ubiquitous connectivity continues to reshape the media and entertainment landscape, media fragmentation and clutter are a result, making traditional advertising channels less effective. Advertisers are increasingly finding in-game advertising to be a greater investment value because of the variety of opportunities that exist in and around games. Video games represent an 'above the line' opportunity, which means that video games should be used to build brands and not as a call to action that distracts from the game play." - Michael Goodman, Director, Digital Entertainment, Yankee Group's Consumer Research Group

In-game advertising is seen by some in the games industry as offering a new revenue stream, allowing developers to offset growing development costs and to take more risks in game play. Advertisers see in-game advertising as a prime way to target the male 18-34 demographic, who are increasingly neglecting television in favor of computer and video games.

However, some gamers see these moves as greedy and invasive, dubbing in-game advertising software as spyware. This view was demonstrated by the backlash against Electronic Arts' Battlefield 2142 which contained in-game advertisements from IGA Worldwide. This has not, however, stopped traditional firms such as Nielsen Media Research branching out into the in-game advertising space, by announcing a new video games ratings service (similar to Nielsen ratings) called GamePlay Metrics to serve in-game advertisers.

According to a recent news in Media Asia, McDonald's becomes Microsoft's first in-game advertiser in Hong Kong -- McDonald's is to set to unveil its first in-game advertising campaign for the Hong Kong market in conjunction with Microsoft Advertising. The initiative will feature a series of virtual 'McDelivery' billboards in five leading video games on the PC and Xbox 360 platforms. The games include PES 2009, The Need for Speed, Undercover, Rainbow Six: Las Vegas 2, NBA Live 2009 and Burnout: Paradise.

“There is a growing opportunity for in-game advertising because it is the only platform where people are completely immersed in one activity. When gamers play a game, they tend to only play the game. We don’t see trends that indicate they do much multi-tasking which would split their attention away from the game.” -- Richard Dunmall, Managing Director, Microsoft Advertising Asia Pacific

“Computer and online games are where young man and women often hang out with their friends these days. The in-game advertsing platform is suitable for advertisers like fast-food chains, sports and fashion brands alike who are looking to target the demographic using gaming. The in-game advertising is imbedded in the game environment, and should be an extension of advertisers’ existing marketing campaigns, as part of the media channels across multiple platforms". -- Kenneth Andrew, Marketing Director, Greater Asia Pacific, Microsoft Advertising

Digital Storytelling - An interesting tool to leverage social media platforms

An interesting and interactive technique to engage visitors on popular social media platforms is Digital Storytelling. According to Wikipedia "Digital Storytelling" is an emerging term, one that arises from a grassroots movement that uses new digital tools to help ordinary people tell their own 'true stories' in a compelling and emotionally engaging form. These stories usually take the form of a relatively short story (less than 8 minutes) and can involve interactivity. The term can also be a broader journalistic reference to the variety of emergent new forms of digital narratives (web-based stories, interactive stories, hypertexts, and narrative computer games). As an emerging area of creative work, the definition of digital storytelling is still the subject of much debate.”

Digital storytelling is the best weapon for media creatives. There are three ways in which digital storytelling was different from analogue storytelling. It creates a brand story, and doesn't just provide product information. Also, it allows marketers to pull in people, rather than pushing merely consumers. Thirdly, it creates significant word of mouth.
- Thomas Kin, Creative Director, Global Creative Team, Cheil Worldwide

Digital storytelling aims to make its audience spread the stories spontaneously by word of mouth and create a buzz over the internet. Lately various forms of commercial messages, including advertising on portal sites, microsites and games sites, have become more prevalent.

Some of the interesting campaigns in the recent times that leveraged digital storytelling are Samsung's 'Haptic Mission', Nike’s 'Be the Legend', “Hang in There Jack”, Zack 16 etc.

An interesting proposition would be using digital storytelling of a product in a campaign using social media platform to engage customers.

More interesting case studies on campaigns involving digital storytelling to follow soon….

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why Twitter isn't making money

Twitter – an innovative micro-blogging service - has become the new darling among social media marketers and internet geeks. According to comScore, over the last year, Twitter's traffic has exploded 15X to 44.5 million worldwide unique visitors in June, according to comScore. But Twitter's growth story isn't just limited to the U.S. and North America, where only about half its traffic comes from, according to comScore. In June 09, Twitter attracted 11 million visitors from Europe, 7 million from Asia Pacific, and 4 million from Latin America -- a total 22 million unique visitors from those three regions, up from about 2 million the year before.

Everyday there are more than 100+ stories circulated across various news and blog platforms highlighting how companies are leveraging Twitter either to increase sales or to raise awareness or just to be visible. Unlike its other counter parts like Facebook or LinkedIn, every now and then people raise questions like…

“Do they make money…how do they survive?”

“There aren’t any ads or subscription fees, how these guys manage their salaries?

“Is it a charity…Google is the most generous of all but still it knows how to make money”

So…the big question is Why Twitter doesn’t make money if it is an industry synonym for Web 2.0 or Social Media????

According to Daniel Riveong, an Internet Marketer working at e-Storm International in San Francisco, California, twitter has to start making money else…
“Maybe Twitter won’t be around to see 2010, yet many major brands have moved in to communicate with consumers and the world via Twitter. He categorized some of these companies under three types of twittering brands:
# 1 Conversational Twitters: H&R Block, Zappos, 10 Downing Street
# 2 News Item Twitters:, New York Times
# 3 Reputation Monitoring Twitters: Radian6 & GeekSquad”

There are many well wishers of Twitter on the web who suggest various way through which twitter can make money. On such supporter is Mashable blogger Adam Ostrow, who feels that Twitter could “couple e-commerce with advice from other shoppers, an element that most search engines do not offer.”

Steven Verbruggen feels that if they want to make some money quick, premium services like Google Analytics could generate quite some cash flow. He further suggests that Twitter can make money by:
1. Acquiring a company that is interested in data and relations and leverage Twitter as a research platform.
2. Advertising route
3. Turning it into a commercial service, let users pay for the use, or let them pay if they want to go over a certain threshold like following xx people or posting xx tweets per month.
4. Introducing commercial features
5. And last but not the least, by introducing Twitter Analytics.

Sarah Milstien, program founder for Just Food, a local-food-and-farms non-profit, and co-founder of Two Tomatoes Records, feels that
“Twitter could make money in a number of ways, from selling data to selling services (it recently posted an ad for a Business Product Manager, calling the role "Twitter's first product manager focused on revenue generation" and then describing a product that sounds like competition for Yammer and Indeed, Blog posts and articles speculate constantly, and comments around the Web range from curious to seemingly angry that Twitter is not yet generating serious cash.”

Is too late for Twitter to monetize from its business model which has already been copied aped and experimented by different companies.

Few companies are already experimenting with business models, creating a situation where these sites have monetized before Twitter itself (Mashable, for instance, launched the Twitter Brand Sponsors ad format recently). The ad network Federated Media is taking a shot at making money from Twitter; FM has launched ExecTweets. A site created by Federated Media, in partnership with Microsoft, ExecTweets is a platform that aggregates the tweets of top business execs and empowers the community to surface the most insightful, business-related tweets.

Even more interesting: Twitter will officially endorse ExecTweets today and encourage brands to create portals like this.

There are several such sites floating around leveraging on the Twitter mania. In an interesting development, Twitter’s legal team sent a cease and desist order to New Yorker Dean Collins telling him that his mytwitterbutler service has to go because it has the T word in its URL and the domain must be handed over before August 24 or else.

So...what’s stopping Twitter to start making money???

I would like to draw an analogy on Google’s growth in the recent times. Be it Google’s business model, industry buy-ins, favorable developments and later on the migration of its services from a free-for-all to a money making machine. Google started off as an innovative concept and introduced its marvelous search engine, on similar lines Twitter introduced an innovative service that gave the birth of the new buzzword Web 2.0. Google had an instant hit in its kitty with its search engine and suddenly VCs, companies and investors were knocking on Google’s door. Twitter’s story is very similar as well. Twitter has already received funding of $20 million (initially) and $250 million (recently). Like Google, Twitter recently turned down a half-billion dollars from Facebook.

After this phase, Google instead of adopting the traditional money making business models waited patiently and used initial funding to ensure that salaries and sustainability are not serious concerns. They used this grace period intelligently to conceptualize and design state-of-the-art innovative technologies. The company knew that it has struck gold with its most innovative web technology of the decade, so they have to live up to their expectation.

Mantra was to go slow and step by step. Leverage on what they know best and introduce offsprings of the mother – The Search Engine. They invested most of their time on conceptualizing innovative technologies and they took their good long time to introduce them. Today when people talk about innovation, Google, 3M and Apple are always mentioned.

Twitter started off on a similar note. They just can’t follow something that has already been introduced, leveraged and exploited. What would be new (read Twitter) about it? I strongly feel that Twitter is not in a rush as of now and would be using this honeymoon time to do its home work properly and thinking about new innovative web 2.0 technologies and platform.

Twitter will definitely start making money but only with its own innovative tools and applications. To my mind, it will introduce something else to make money only if it can take the legacy of Twitter to the next level of innovation – something that is quite synonymous with its brand name.

I am not an expert in web technologies but I strongly feel that Twitter core mantra is sharing information and all its future endeavors would be around this core concept only (after all Web 2.0 is about it as well). Going forward, I feel Twitter could be thinking of something on these lines: -

1. Authentication – Today anyone can create a login and start using Twitter. Twitter can think of introducing the authentication or verification angle to it so that the analytics chalked out using Twitter would become more reliable.

2. Subscription based tweets – Tweets are the main weapon in its arsenal. All successful case studies on leveraging Twitter had one thing in common i.e. Tweets. Twitter may club it with its Authentication service and start offering specific and customized user tweets for specific reasons. It could be either surveys, analytics, customer service, sales etc.

3. Search Engine – Twitter can integrate a powerful search engine that gives the functionality to filter tweets and get only the most relevant ones as per the specific search criterion. This could become a powerful tool for the enterprise users of Twitter that can be made fee based gradually.

4. Twitpic – An interesting service to move beyond the 140 limit on Twitter and add some personalization to a dull Twitter user home page. Taking it to the next level, Twitter could think of introducing a platform for not only integrating pictures but also videos and files.

5. Another out of the box concept could be “Breaking News” service – Most of active Twitter users will validate this statement that Twitter has become an internet channel which gives them the news faster than any other news channel or resource. In real world we have plethora of TV channels and print media resources but as we are moving to the new internet world with Web 2.0, news about people who aren’t known to many, news that the whole world may not be interested in but you would, news about your friends, families, peer-group…will make the difference and who else can do this better or is equipped to do better than TWITTER.

Will surely love your thoughts and ideas on my thoughts. In case you have something interesting, not done before and goes well for Twitter, lets connect and suggest some good and innovative ways through which our dear friend Twitter can take its legacy to a new height – “Google of Web 2.0”

Monday, August 24, 2009

Now Air New Zealand is leveraging facebook to promote its Hong Kong London route targeting young professionals

Companies from different industry verticals are coming up with innovative ideas to leverage Web 2.0 wave. Joining Lufthansa and Emirates Airways, Air New Zealand has launched an application and a fan page to promote its Hong Kong London route targeting young professionals.

“This is the first time the company has rolled out a Facebook focused campaign and wants to use this channel as a test platform. Facebook can reach her target audience, comprising frequent independent travelers between 25 to 34 years old that makes up the bulk of Facebook users here” - Prudence Lau, marketing manager in Hong Kong & Southern China for Air New Zealand

BIG Idea - "Explore the other side of London"

The theme of this Facebook campaign is called "Explore the other side of London" that will run until the end of next month. The campaign is supported by PR activation to invite key media influencers and bloggers to participate.

The application encourages its customers to come up with an idea to travel in London besides the typical tourist spots. It allows consumers to pick a travel companion and create a dream trip where the most unique and wacky trip will stand a chance to win free air tickets and accommodation to London.

Measurement metrics
Lau is also excited about setting up a fan page for Air New Zealand Hong Kong, which she said would be more than just updates on the latest fares but include the latest happenings and trends in New Zealand and England. She would use the number of fans recruited on the Facebook fan page as one of the KPIs on the effectiveness of this campaign.

Rudi Leung, communication planning director for Agenda Hong Kong, said Air New Zealand will benchmark results of this campaign with its previous consumer engagement activities in traditional media, which will help to decide how they would allocate more budgets for social media in the future.

According to Check Facebook, there are almost 2.2 million people using Facebook in Hong Kong.

Ref: Marketing-Interactive.Com

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New profile additions in the C-suite – Chief Growth Officer (CGO)

In recent months, organic growth has risen to the top of the corporate agenda. A Marakon survey in April 2004 found that organic growth is the key issue for 59 percent of the senior executives running US, European and Asian companies. For 57 percent, the priority has increased over the past year. Other studies highlight similar sentiments. For instance, a recent IBM survey of CEOs worldwide found revenue growth is the top agenda item for four of five.

Most if not all of a company's resources are spent moving through its corporate lifecycle, and that movement is typically fixed along a predetermined path. What happens when that company experiences rapid sales growth and an immediate change is required?

What happens when a rapid shift must occur due to unexpected competitor activity or due to a recent exodus of staff in light of the current labor shortage?

The challenge today is that with companies running lean and efficiently they cannot typically afford the time, money, and people required to deal with these issues effectively. They usually cannot afford the expensive trial-and-error associated with both learning and implementing new best practices, either. This is as true for Fortune 500 companies trying to reinvent themselves as it is for startups just entering the marketplace and experiencing fast growth.

Growth has become so important that an increasing number of companies--H.J. Heinz, Interpublic Group and Hain Celestial, among them--have carved out a new executive position: "Chief Growth Officer."

Popularly termed as Mr. Idea, this profile is basically to have one person in charge of all-around growth helps you to look at business processes holistically. Typical role entails creating new products, finding new ways to repackage old products, or just enhancing relationships.

A CGO is like having 5 key positions in one:-
1. Chief Growth Officer/Organization Development Director
2. Chief Information & Technology Officer
3. Chief Learning Officer (Top HR Executive)
4. Chief Operating Officer
5. Strategic Advisor

Generic job responsibilities:
- Evaluates the corporate structure and ensures that the structure is aligned with the company's objectives.
- Analyses effects of proposed changes to structure and its effect on the motivation and work/life balance of employees.
- Works with managers to develop effective line of communication and chains of responsibility.
- Requires a bachelor's degree with at least 10 years of experience in the field.
- Familiar with a variety of the field's concepts, practices, and procedures.
- Relies on extensive experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals.
- Performs a variety of tasks.
- Leads and directs the work of others.
- A wide degree of creativity and latitude is expected.

Fig: Org Structure

Companies like Colgate Palmolive, Dentsu Media, Thomas Group, Zurich Financial Services, Hershey Company, TradeKing, H.J. Heinz, Interpublic Group and Hain Celestial etc. have already hired renowned professionals for this profile.

According to a recent job post for this profile, following are the expected qualities of this profile: -
# Identify root causes for missing opportunities and create conditions for growth
# Focus on new business models that leverage enabling trends, solve customer problems in larger potential markets and rapidly assemble internal and external capabilities required to build the platforms
# Validate ideas and achieve milestones in the development and execution of new business opportunities
# Promote new product development
# Design and build an organization to screen, select, fund and deliver the company Enterprise Growth
# Agenda and support Group Growth Agendas; define the mission of the organization and establish budget and investment requirements
# Support the CEO and Group VPs in shaping their enterprise and group growth agendas and related plans and priorities
# Understand future trends and targeted domains/markets and related dynamics
# Identify domains in which the company should seek opportunities to build a leadership position; explore big potential opportunities, (which customers could the company work with to prototype/build out the opportunities? what core capabilities can be leveraged in this new and emerging opportunity space?)
# Identify the systemic and interrelated challenges that drive towards and away from growth; align key elements of infrastructure and culture/behavior to the growth goals and agendas
# Mobilize business building leaders and teams to build out new targeted businesses/growth platforms

Requirements: Critical Traits for the CGO Role:
# Abstract reasoning, flexibility and idea orientation (able to 'connect the dots')
# Assertiveness and aggressiveness (can state opinions forcefully and deal with resistance or confrontation effectively)
# Self-discipline and urgency (sense of time pressure and motivation to complete activities)
# Risk taking (willing to try new things and explore new domains)
# Natural curiosity with bias for action exploring possibilities
# Ego drive and ego strength
# An undergraduate degree is required

Critical Experiences:
# Experience in strategy development with a history of innovation and passion for growth
# Track record indicating focused time to the external environment, customers, and external networking

Monday, August 17, 2009

Singapore’s FairPrice leveraging Facebook – An impressive Social Media Marketing Strategy

Supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice has entered social media with a Facebook profile 'That's My FairPrice', already supported by a huge fans base. According to press statement the supermarket chain acquired about 1,000 fans just three hours after its launch. As on 18th August, it had 7,595 fans on facebook.

Presently, it is running an online contest, “That’s my Family” Contest, where it is inviting its fans to post their & their family’s photo on the wall and add a short caption.

Once the photo is uploaded, users are then asked to share their post with their friends and tag at least 20 friends to get them to “Like” your post. If any particular user has the most “Liked” entry at the end of the contest, that user will win the Grand Prize - S$1,000 NTUC FairPrice Gift Vouchers! Also, if any user is among the Top 3 “Liked” entries of the week, he/she stands to win S$100 NTUC FairPrice Gift Vouchers!

Initially, to promote the Facebook profile, NTUC FairPrice also launched an advertising campaign featuring a TVC. The campaign was developed in partnership with iHub Media and FairPrice's media agency MPG. The new Homepage Reach Block Video Fan ad unit, claims to ensure two million impressions and up to a maximum of five impressions per user.

“This debut into social media is yet another channel for us to enhance our relationship with customers, so as to understand and better serve their needs. We will continue to explore new channels to engage our customers, fulfilling our brand promise in delivering excellent customer service.” -- Jeremy Khoo, deputy director of marketing communications at NTUC FairPrice

In Singapore, Facebook reaches more than 1.4 million internet users, or 50 per cent of the web population (comScore Media Metrix, May 2009), with an almost even representation in each age group. On average, more than 366,000 Singapore users log in to Facebook every day.

Last year NTUC Fairprice appointed Euro RSCG and MPG as its creative and media agencies following a six-way review. The retailer also appointed local interactive shop Manic for a website revamp.

References: Brand Asia and

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Indian tax law set to come of age

The government has proposed a dramatic makeover of the country’s 48-year tax law, bringing it on a par with the new economy and also with what prevails in the rest of the world.

The draft of a new direct tax code introduced by the finance ministry on Wednesday has suggested significant cuts in tax rates for individuals and companies, pruned exemptions, choked loopholes for foreign companies and radically changed definitions, all of which are likely to have a mixed impact on companies and individuals. Together with greater surveillance, it would ensure greater compliance and thereby reduce the risk of any loss in tax revenues due to a cut in rates.

“The underlying philosophy of the code is the philosophy of the government. (It is) wedded to a well-regulated free market system,” P. Chidambaram, current home minister who was involved in preparing the draft code earlier, said at a press conference called by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to release the draft code. Mukherjee said he would strive to introduce the draft legislation in the winter session of Parliament.

Source: Livemint

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cisco Unveils Vision of Future Cities at Incheon Global Fair & Festival

SEOUL, Korea - August 6, 2009 - Cisco will demonstrate its Smart+Connected Communities vision for cities of the future at the Incheon Global Fair and Festival.

The Cisco® Smart+Connected Communities initiative aims to help cities and communities around the world use the network as the platform to transform how citizens use utilities, safety and security measures, connected real estate, transportation, health care, learning, sports venues and government services. Smart+Connected Communities solutions address the demand of increasingly urbanised populations by providing a network-enabled blueprint for successful 'smart' cities of the future that run on networked information.

Cisco will present its Smart+Connected Communities vision at the Cisco 'Global Cities of the Future' pavilion at the Global Fair & Festival, which opens Aug. 7 and runs for 80 days.

Wim Elfrink, chief globalisation officer and executive vice president of Cisco Services, said, "We believe the network can truly be the platform for transforming cities, communities and countries. Cisco's presence at the Incheon Global Fair and Festival is further evidence of our commitment to collaborate with the Incheon Free Economic Zone and cities around the world to help them use technology for increased environmental, social and economic sustainability."

The Cisco pavilion showcases six solutions: Cisco Virtual Information Desk, Cisco TelePresenceTM, Cisco community and connection services, security operations, building control, and green energy.

# Cisco Virtual Information Desk provides remote management functions that allow a receptionist to effectively welcome visiting customers from multiple locations.

# Virtual Information Desk is an environmentally friendly solution that helps reduce commuting and labor costs as well as energy consumption.

# Cisco TelePresence is a cutting-edge video conferencing solution with full high-definition video and high-quality audio combined with interactive conferencing functions that maximize the feeling of in-person interactions.

# Cisco community and connection services allow citizens to get remote health care and public services at home through Cisco Customer TelePresence by directly connecting to hospitals and public organizations.

# Cisco security operations are shown in building management and monitoring systems based on an Internet Protocol (IP) network. A closed-circuit television gives an operator in a control room the experience of real-time security and precautions. The comprehensive Inno-Watch solution can control CCTV images and external signals.

# The building control center allows visitors to experience IP-based intelligent building systems that address a number of integration, security and centralized monitoring issues. The building control center integrates IP operations and management to reduce operating costs and increase the asset value of buildings. Users can also access services such as meeting room reservations from their IP phone, digital media systems or PDA.

# The green energy exhibit showcases the Cisco EnergyWise solution, which deals with energy savings and environmental issues in office buildings and homes. Based on Cisco's router, switch and data center platform technologies, Cisco EnergyWise helps monitor energy consumption thus prevents unnecessary energy consumption.

In line with its pavilion, Cisco will provide a comprehensive Customer Briefing Center program for enterprise customers. Cisco is also scheduled to hold the Sustainable Cities of the Future Conference in Incheon on Sept. 18, which will bring together thought leaders from government and developers.

As part of the Cisco 'Global Cities of the Future' pavilion opening event, Cisco will provide free entry tickets to 50 people for the Incheon Global Fair and Festival and an opportunity to use Cisco TelePresence to meet with friends and relatives abroad.

About Incheon Global Fair and Festival
With the theme of 'Lightening Tomorrow', Global Fair & Festival 2009 Incheon will take place from Aug. 7 to Oct. 25, 2009. Hosted by Incheon Metropolitan City and organized by 2009 Incheon Global Fair & Festival Organizing Committee, the Incheon Global Fair and Festival will be held in Songdo International City.

Source: Official Press Release, Cisco

Web 2.0 Marketing Strategies

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Publicis Groupe's acquisition of Razorfish: the Asian angle

Following the news that Microsoft will sell digital agency Razorfish to Publicis Groupe for US$530 million, sources expect it to be "business as usual" for the agency under its new ownership, including in Japan, where Razorfish is engaged in a joint venture with Dentsu.

According to the global agreement, Razorfish will become part of Publicis’ VivaKi, joining Digitas, Starcom MediaVest Group and ZenithOptimedia in the region, and is expected to keep its current leadership worldwide.

In Asia-Pacific, Razorfish’s agencies are Hong Kong-based e-Crusade, which handles Nike among other clients, Amnesia Razorfish in Australia and a joint venture with Dentsu in Japan.

Publicis is slated to take full control of the agency, which was sold to Microsoft in 2007 as part of the $6 billion acquisition of online advertising group aQuantive, in the fourth quarter of this year.

According to Razorfish’s regional president Lee Sherman, the leadership in the agency’s regional office will stay the same, and “the agency is very excited about the agreement” because it will be able to expand its capabilities by using the VivaKi network, “as it makes sense for our clients”.

Amnesia Razorfish’s founder Iain McDonald added that the partnership is advantageous because it perpetuates a relationship with Microsoft – from which Publicis has agreed to buy search and display advertising – and “will help accelerate our plans for growth in the region”.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Razorfish noted it will be “business as usual for Dentsu Razorfish”, and anticipates that Publicis will continues the joint venture’s management with rival holding company Dentsu, which had also bid to buy Razorfish from Microsoft.

The spokesman added that the specifics of the deal are still up in the air. “It’s too early to speculate on possible working arrangements for our various brands around the world with the deal just having been signed,” he said.

A regional representative for Publicis said he expects Publicis and Dentsu to work together on the venture, pointing out that Dentsu holds a minority stake in Publicis Groupe and the two holding companies work together globally on public relations and sports marketing initiatives. “We are used to working together,” he added.

However, agency sources within the region also say the deal gives Publicis little leverage in Asia-Pacific’s digital arena outside a few key markets.

According to Barney Loehnis, Asian network director of Aegis Group’s Isobar Global, outside of a bolstered presence in Australia, Hong Kong and Japan, “I don’t think this deal gives Publicis a firm dunk in Asia”. “My personal observation is that $530 million is not cheap and Publicis is paying the price of its lack of vision from a few years back,” Loehnis said of the deal. “More than anything, this deal is interesting from a media-strategy perspective as it will still be working with Microsoft. But, this absolutely does not increase Publicis’ ability to go to market with a strong digital case.”

Source: Brand Republic

Collection of Interesting Case Studies on Social Media Marketing

List of interesting case studies on Social Media Marketing

Crispin Porter’s viral Subservient Chicken garnered about 14 million unique visitors and 396 million hits to date, through Adweek here (March 7, 2005).

Up Your Budget Treasure Hunt for Budget Car Rental in 2005, the first ever blog-based viral marketing campaign, promoted entirely through bloggers and blog advertising - with no traditional marketing whatsoever. The results: one million unique visits to the site, 2,000 registered treasure hunters, and over 10 million page views in only four weeks. The clue videos were downloaded a total 43,000 times. There were 19.9 million blog advertising impressions at an average cost of 33 cents. Created by BL Ochman.

Click TV - Blogger Relations for Click TV (April 17, 2006): An outline of a blogger relations campaign for a Web 2.0 company, Shel Holtz, results here

Fiskateers for Fiskars, who make crafting tools. Branded mentions of Fiskars products are up more than 400% on a per-week basis since the program began, from Brains on Fire (2007)

Coca Cola’s Community Approach to Second Life (April 17, 2007): Coca-Cola’s new social media strategy in Second Life featured an approach other than buying real estate and creating a store, Shel Holtz & Crayon

SeaWorld San Antonio: Journey to Atlantis (May 3, 2007): The launch and results of an “event” site to support the opening of a new ride, My PR Pro

Splashcast’s Social Media for Marketing: (May 16, 2007): Splashcast used social media for marketing purposes, and succeeded by directly engaging the community, Marshall Kirkpatrick

GeoCommons Social Media News Release (May 29, 2007): An outline of the pitfalls and successes of releasing news via SMNR, Livingston Communications

New Adventures of Old Christine (June 14, 2007): The show was about to get a new day and time, and she thought outreach to parent bloggers was a perfect fit, CBS via Marketing Roadmaps

Sci Fi Channel Digital Press Tour (July 12, 2007): Sci Fi channel begins blogger relations program by providing access to filming setsSci Fi, Channel via Marketing Roadmaps

Goodwill’s Social Media Strategy (August 29, 2007): How Goodwill used social media to rebrand its vintage clothing, Livingston Communications

Five Lessons from the SIGGART Online Word of Mouth Campaign (August 30, 2007): Thiseco-friendly aluminum water bottles company chalked up tons of quantifiable results, including 8000 unique visitors who visited for an average of 17 minutes, Gold Group

Hugh Macleod at gapingvoid has done a spectacular job of marketing Stormhoek wine entirely through blogs and social networking, vis a vis BL Ochman (Sept. 17, 2007)

Gates Foundation ED in ‘08 (Sept. 25, 2008): This very successful case study shows social media tools from video to Facebook, and calls to action like ordering endorsement kits, Mindshare Interactive

Social Media Case Study: CMP’s TechMash (September 27, 2007) Social media forms used to garner attendance at CMP event, Horn Group

A Social Media News Release from Eurekstar (October 2, 2007): Shift Partner and Father of the SMNR breaks down form and function in this one, SHIFT Communications.

Marketing Pro Lewis Green discusses how his BizSolutionsPlus blog yielded four clients in one year (October 15, 2007).

Squidoo is profitable, and without venture capital, Viget Labs and Seth Godin (December 18, 2007)

The White House uses social media to get the word out on drug policies (December 18, 2007)

ITToolbox, who’ve grown their social network for IT professionals into multi-million business with more than $8 million in ad sales, and 1.7 million pages of user generated content as of Jan. 1, 2008.

Sony drives approximately 11,000,000 million visits to 30 Days Night moviecontests page using Facebook widget (reported by Jeremiah, January 29, 2008)

Nokia’s Mosh creates more than 200,000 rabid friends, almost 30 million downloads through crowd-sourcing initiative (reported by the Buzz Bin, March 3, 2008)

The Human Capital Institute uses its liveblog to engage its membership, determine if they are social media savvy, Livingston Communications (March 18, 2008)

H&R Block Friends Stressed Out Taxed Americans on Twitter (reported by Social Media Explorer, March 21, 2008)

Disney’s continued MySpace Step Up 2 the Streets success yields a surprise box-office hit; it also managed to expand the movie’s already sizeable and enthusiastic group of fans. The movie’s MySpace profile has more than 156,000 friends (March 24, 2008, AdAge via Social media Optimization).

Neat Receipts Becomes a Hit with Mommy Bloggers (SHIFT Communications, April 2, 2008).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Pandemic Flu Leadership Blog: HHS engaged national leaders and the online pandemic flu community through its 5-week blog summit (June 2007 by OgilvyPR).

Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company drove traffic to their site, increased buzz and branded in social media and the blogosphere using a beta test. More than 1500 blogs participated (Pierson Grant Public Relations, June 3, 2008).

Scripps Networks - HGTV’s Rate My Space. Online community creates prime advertising real estate, generating ROI within weeks and creating continuous stream of advertising revenues. Success leads to companion television series - social media successfully serves to bridge gap between online and on-air (NY Times, June 19, 2008).

Adidas leverages mobile social media to increase retail revenues 20x around NBA All Star game in Vegas (Event Marketer, June 24, 2008).

Network Solutions is using a monitoring program to turn around a negative blog post ratio in the 58 percentile range (Livingston Communications, August 8, 2008).

The Nature Conservancy leverages Facebook and Digg for cause marketing: How TNC raised nearly $75,000 through Facebook Causes and a partnership with Lil Green Patch, a popular Facebook application. The group has also built significant brand awareness through the social news site Digg! (As reported by Jonathon Colman of TNC, September 29, 2008).

JetBlue Twitter – Case Study: When JetBlue joined Twitter in the spring of 2007, it was one of the first major brands to do so. Today, the company has nearly a million of followers, and its account is often cited as an example of smart corporate twittering. But the company started out on Twitter with modest goals. It wanted to help customers.

Teusner Wines Twitter – Case Study: Teusner Wines, a boutique winery in Australia’s Barossa Valley, has three employees. Dave Brookes is the sales and marketing department. A cycling fan, Brookes was watching the Tour Down Under in January 2009 when he noticed that Lance Armstrong was on Twitter. “I followed him,” says Brookes, “and I starting thinking Twitter would a good tool to tell people about the winery.”

Current Media Twitter – Case Study: For the 2008 presidential elections, Current knew it had to do something different. The media company, headquartered in San Francisco, would receive the same live feed of the debates as every other broadcaster. Unless Current distinguished its coverage, viewers would have no particular reason to tune in.

Tasti D-lite Twitter – Case Study: The popular dessert franchise Tasti D-lite offers customers over 100 flavors of guilt-free frozen treats. Tasti has been beloved by customers in the greater New York area for over 20 years, growing to 50+ locations and continuing to open new locations while expanding its geographic reach.

CoffeeGroundz Twitter – Case Study: CoffeeGroundz is a popular, albeit modest, Houston, TX based independent coffee shop that sells a variety of locally roasted coffee, tea, pastries, sandwiches, and alcoholic beverages. There are a couple of booths, 16 tables and another ten on the patio. If you come to CoffeeGroundz, J.R. Cohen, its general manager, strives to make sure “you feel at home.”

Etsy Twitter – Case Study: Etsy is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade. Since launching in 2005, the Brooklyn, NY company has grown to over 65 employees. More importantly, over 250,000 sellers have opened up shop on Etsy to sell their handmade goods.

NAKEDPizza Twitter – Case Study: Founded in late 2006 as one small store in New Orleans in an area that flooded during hurricane Katrina, NAKEDPizza (originally named World's Healthiest Pizza) was launched as an ambitious business model that seeks to change the nutritional profile of fast food in America.

American Apparel Twitter – Case Study: The Los Angeles company and leading basics brand provides hip clothing for people of all ages. Vertically-integrated American Apparel is the largest clothing manufacturer in the United States.

Pepsi Twitter – Case Study: Pepsi may be a classic brand, but it’s using 21st century tools to collaborate and build relationships with customers.

Social Media Assessment Case Study Citrix Webex

Fundraising on Facebook: A Case-Study on Cause-Related Marketing

Case Study: The Barack Obama Strategy

More to follow...

Dell Twitter Case Study

First adopters of social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and blogging understand that their success can be measured and based on audience engagement, recognition, and involvement. Yet, Social Media’s Achilles heel, in the eyes of corporate decision makers who still utilize Web 1.0 analytics and measurement for their marketing, sales, and promotion efforts, is the lack of compelling ROI case studies: until now.

The fundamental recommendations from Twitter can be summarised in four simple steps
- Listen to what people are saying about your brand on Twitter
- Set up your own presence and be honest about who you are
- Follow people that are relevant to you
- Respond to discussions about your brand and business

Dell leveraged Twitter perfectly to generate sales. In December 2008, InternetNews reported that Dell has produced $1 million in revenue over the past year and a half through sale alerts via Twitter. People who sign up to follow Dell on Twitter receive messages when discounted products are available the company’s Home Outlet Store. They can click over to purchase the product or forward the information to others.

Dell Outlet faces a common but vexing challenge. A division of the giant made-to-order computer business, Dell Outlet carries refurbished equipment and other inventory that it needs to sell quickly. Because the division has to get the word out fast, it doesn’t have the luxury of hiring an agency and developing an ad campaign. Instead, the outlet relies primarily on email marketing, paid search results, search-engine optimization and affiliate links to raise awareness and drive sales. It’s always looking for new, cost-effective ways to reach people.

Dell's worst problem had been that customers were having too many of the wrong conversations with too many service technicians in too many countries. "It was a real mess," confesses Dick Hunter, former head of manufacturing and now head of customer service. Dell's DNA of cost-cutting "got in the way," Hunter says. "In order to become very efficient, I think we became ineffective."

Hunter has increased service spending 35%, cut outsourcing partners from 14 to 6 (and is headed to 3), and retrained staff to take on more problems and responsibility (higher-end techs can scrap their phone scripts; techs in other countries learn empathy). Crucially, Hunter also stopped counting the "handle time" per call that rushed representatives and motivated them to transfer customers so they would be someone else's problem. At Dell's worst, more than 7,000 of the 400,000 customers calling each week suffered transfers more than seven times.

Today, the transfer rate has fallen from 45% to 18%. Now Hunter tracks the minutes per resolution of a problem, which runs in the 40s. His favorite acronym mantra (among many) is RI1: resolve in one call. (Apple (AAPL) claims it resolves 90% of problems in one call.) He is also experimenting with outreach e-mails and chatty phone calls to 5,000 selected New Yorkers before problems strike, trying to replace the brother-in-law as their trusted adviser.

What did Dell do to make it happen, while others are still playing the wait and watch game.

- Fast to adopt:
While its competitors watched how the new entrant to the social media scenario would perform Dell set up its strategy and used Twitter as a channel of distribution to sell their products, taking the leadership stance and approach.

- Segmentated users:
Dell had a very clear strategy and focus to leverage Twitter, its stretegy revolved around studing the model and its users. Dell segmented twitter users demographically by setting up different twitter accounts ( ie. They started Dell Twitter for NZ users , Dell Twitter for UK users, Dell Twitter for Canada users ) Each of these twitter accounts spoke to users in a different country with localised product offerings.

- Created special offering for each of its segments :
With the segmentation strategy was adopted for different markets, it backed it up with special offers for each of these segments. Thus adapting the ‘Think Global, Act Local’ approach for their overall Twitter marketing strategy.

- Created a following and build a trust factor :
Companies that have built communities have always been succcessful in selling their products. Dell leveraged its online brand identity and trust factor to create and build a large community on Twitter. They built a strong and loyal following of more than 2000 users.

- Targeted Sales messages to the community :
Once they had a following they strategically leveraged their offers and promotions in form of Tweets or messages on Twitter to their following.

Holding Conversations: When company employees discovered Twitter at the South by Southwest conference in 2007, they thought they’d hit on a good channel for pushing out information.

“We thought, ‘Great—this has a really short lead time, and it will let us communicate our message effectively,’” says Stefanie Nelson, manager of demand generation at Dell Outlet. “We started using it for one-way communication.” The company was surprised when people responded. “They wanted to ask questions. They wanted to share their experiences, good and bad,” says Nelson, who’s based in Austin, TX. “We realized that people were really interested in talking with us.”

Raising awareness: So instead of using Twitter just to let people know about deals, the company has come to think of it as a good place to interact with customers—and to raise awareness about the brand. “When we respond to people on Twitter, they get really excited, and we gain advocates.”

That doesn’t mean Dell Outlet has abandoned the deals. In fact, the company often posts offers that are exclusive to Twitter. They twitter only a few times a week so as not to spam their followers, and they use tracking URLs to gauge what followers find most appealing.

Increasing sales: Do the coupons work? Big time. Not only do they get retweeted and picked up by coupon sites—both of which spread the brand name—they also drive sales. Dell Outlet has booked more than $3 million in revenue attributable to its Twitter posts. In addition, the division has done research showing that awareness of the outlet has grown, too.

“The uplift has been more than we dreamed,” says Nelson.

Connecting with customers: Dell now has more than 80 Dell-branded Twitter accounts (including @dellhomeoffers for new system deals) offering everything from videos of new technologies to promotions for Asia-Pacific customers. It also encourages employees to twitter, and has well over 100 employee accounts. Dell uses many of those accounts (with names like @StefanieAtDell), primarily for customer service exchanges that require direct messages (Twitter’s private channel) and to reach out to people who are twittering about Dell (which they find via Twitter search).

@DellOutlet now has over 15,000 followers who are receiving these marketing messages from Dell. So while Twitter is trying to figure out how to make money from its service, it is interesting to see that Dell recognizes that Twitter is a marketing channel, and more importantly, it is a channel that can increase revenues.

- At start of program, 49% of blog posts were negative. Today, overall tonality is 22%negative.
- Direct2Dell currently ranked about 700 on Technorati, among the highest corporate blogs.
- Direct2Dell gets more than 5 million unique views per month
- Over 7000 ideas have been submitted via IdeaStorm
- Studio Dell is gets more than 200,000 views per month

Dell has over 650,000 followers on Twitter. Although they are only following 23, they are known as a value provider:
Coupons: Dell distributes valuable discount coupons through Twitter
Customer Service: Dell answers questions and solves problems by engaging with their audience
Crowdsourcing: like their efforts at Ideastorm, they crowdsource their Twitter network for ideas on products, services, processes, and anything related to making their consumers satisfied
Network: Dell brilliantly and seamlessly integrate their Twitter network of followers with their Facebook fans for their Facebook company page. They convert many Twitter followers to Facebook fans and vice-versa

Nelson has learned when starting a new account on Twitter, it’s smart to reach out to your current customer base. They’re already interested in chatting with you, and they’ll tell other people about you. But no matter who’s following you on Twitter, she says, “offering relevant information that people are interested in is key.”