What is RSS and why do you care?
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds are an XML format that was created to syndicate news, and be a means to share content on the Web.
Say you want to read updates from more than two dozen sites weekly. Having a way to subscribe to those sites from a central location, instead of needing to visit them individually, is very convenient. I read about 232 sites and blogs, and pull the questions from LinkedIn for three categories.
You can also syndicate Google Alerts to an RSS reader, for example, and save your inbox for real correspondence. I also have a service that tells me if someone is reposting my feed, which is how I know when sites scrape my content.
As a publisher, you want to offer a way for people to subscribe to your content -- and offering a feed along with an option to receive it in the form of email, is the easiest way to do that.
Despite the link sharing taking place on various social networks -- Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ -- feeds are still a major way to publish and pull content.
[image courtesy of Stephanie Quilao]
It's Joe McCambley, who is listed as copywriter on that very first 1994 banner for AT&T on HotWired.
According to his bio (pdf), "Joe conceived and developed the first advertising experience that ever appeared on the Internet in October of 1994. It was a banner that led to an online tour of the world’s best art museums, sponsored by AT&T and developed for the inaugural issue of HotWired Magazine."
Which also answers an old question -- what happened when people did click "right HERE".
- social media
- web design & development
- Twitter integration and apps were king in 2009 and are here to stay. Either you integrate or you perish
- Tumblr is successful and growing in the shadow of Twitter, when Twitter finally loses steam will Tumblr be the new darling?
- Market consolidation in social media leaving only a few major players on the scene: Twitter, Facebook and who else?
- Social news (Digg, Reddit) and bookmarking (Delicious) will become obsolete. Already the first wave of social media that is social news and bookmarking lose against Twitter.
- Social browsing (StumbleUpon etc.) is already dead. There were more than a dozen of social browsing services in 2008. Most of them are dead or on hiatus already. More to follow.
- We’ll witness a demise or hiatus of most startups without critical mass of users as the money runs out
- We can expect a proliferation of premium and freemium business models as venture capital stays scarce
- Companies and brands will have to develop a social media strategy in 2010 to stay afloat
- With business accounts and data access selling like hotcakes and additional revenue sources Twitter will become profitable in 2010 already
- We’ll see a smartphone systems death match as the market isn’t big enough for all the often incompatible systems we have right now.
- Apple will be losing market share. The iPhone still looks like years ago. They don’t even have a netbook yet. They can’t rely on cult tactics forever.
- Phones and calls for free thanks Google: Google prepares the real Google Phone combining Google Voice and Gizmo5 VoIP to offer free calls.
- We’ll see less bullshit and more substance in the online marketing field. As the Web matures more and more people become too savvy to get fooled.
- Advertising replaced on the Web by “ad content” that is non promotional content about the brand, company or products: Less banners more reports.
- Real time search will go prime time for everyone, not just the search geeks and early adopters
- Google and Bing will keep on copying each other in order to capitalize on the search advertising market
- Advanced personalization will lead to your own personal search results for most people rendering ranking checks useless
- SEO is becoming ubiquitous, everybody does it (BBC etc.) and in 2010 those who don’t will fail to compete
- More SEO experts will return underground again inspite of ubiquitous SEO due to wide spread prejudice of the ignorant against the trade
- Like it or not but we’ll see more jQuery pop ups due to their high conversion rate.
- Mobile apps will continue to boom and optimized web pages for mobile use will become common place finally
- HTML5 and CSS3 will allow web designers to offer extra features possible backed by graceful degradationin oder to support for older browsers
- YouTube censorship spawns an open source and DIY video embedding counter movement. We already witness it but in 2010 you’ll look like a noob using YouTube on your site
- Blogs get even more authoritative and accepted, becoming the “old media” of the Web
- Quick and clean miniblogging (Tumblr, Posterous etc.) establish a lively sphere between Twitter-like microblogging and blogging.
- Video content finally gets the importance we expected for years now with growing band width etc.
- There will be more cloud computing and web based software or rather webware around and people will use it more often
- Most notably Google Docs will convince more users of the Microsoft Office desktop edition to switch
- At the same time Google Chrome OS will be competing successfully with Windows at least on netbooks
We looked at eight major product categories to find the brands that gained the most traction on the site, comparing their Facebook pages to those of competitors to determine which were best and worst at taking full advantage of the platform.
Some big-name players -- Coca-Cola, Best Buy, Starbucks and Microsoft among them -- are performing especially well on the social-media site. Others, however, including Burger King, Walmart, Dell and Geico, might be missing some prime opportunities to interact with their current and potential customers.
- Consumer Packaged Goods ... Retail
- Restaurant/Food ... Technology
- Apparel ... Insurance
- Automotive ... Airline
The granddaddy of Facebook brand pages wasn't even started by the soft drink giant. Two fans created the page in August 2008 and it went on to become the top product page on the site. Perhaps Coke learned its lesson from the Diet Coke-Mentos phenomenon, when it objected to the use of its product in a viral Web video hit. This time out, instead of playing the corporate heavy, Coke brought the two consumers to company headquarters and invited them to continue to run the page with backing from Coke.
Stats: 3.7 million fans; regular promotions include one that solicits videos for a shot at appearing in a Coke commercial.
Missed Opportunity... Pepsi. The company makes a disappointing showing on Facebook, given that it's a digitally and socially savvy brand. The Refresh Everything page has 250,000 fans, a fraction of rival Coke's. The company mostly uses it as a channel for pumping out updates of marketing activities.
RETAIL: BEST BUY
At a tough time for electronics outlets -- witness the demise of Circuit City -- Best Buy is pushing the envelope with social shopping. Its Facebook page doesn't just tout products, it lets visitors browse from the site and get feedback on items from Facebook friends. It's also using the site to get general feedback from its customers, sometimes to a fault.
A recent post asking users what they thought of the company offering a BestBuy.com in Spanish ignited a firestorm of hostile and offensive comments. The company acted quickly by taking the post down.
Stats: 842,000 fans; one of the richest retail pages on Facebook, featuring "shop and share" and "gift ideas" applications.
Missed Opportunity... Walmart. The retailer might be the biggest on the face of the Earth, but you wouldn't know it on Facebook. The company clearly has its work cut out for it in the give and take of social media, but hiding is a dubious strategy. Its page has less than 17,000 fans and no content.
The chain has flexed its brand muscles on Facebook, running several ad campaigns to plumb its fan base, even to the point of offering free ice cream this past summer. Some say luring fans in with freebies means fleeting success, but Starbucks' fan page is growing over 3 percent per week, according to AllFacebook, putting it on track to overtake Will Smith in popularity on the site.
Stats: 4.5 million fans; ice cream and pastry giveaways clearly resonate with consumers; the company's social strategy was enough for Altimeter Group to rank it the No.1 most-connected brand.
Missed Opportunity... Burger King. Not many ad icons nowadays have the appeal of Burger King's mascot, but the brand is curiously absent from the social networking platform. That's too bad because it clearly has cachet among users as evidenced by the avalanche of responses to the short-lived "Whopper sacrifice" campaign last January.
Unlike its nettlesome rival Apple, which is so beloved it doesn't need a Facebook fan page, Microsoft typically has to go the extra distance. The company has a sophisticated Facebook strategy with fan pages for several different product lines. This helps build focused fan bases for Internet Explorer, Windows, Surface and its MVP Award Program of product evangelists. The approach lets the behemoth act smaller.
Stats: Over 300,000 fans; used the Bing page to solicit feedback on features the new search engine needs.
Missed Opportunity... Dell. Despite a concerted effort at social media, Dell hasn't cracked the Facebook code. It has about 40,000 fans who get a regular stream of product releases. What's missing is the feedback loop Dell started with its Ideastorm site in 2007.
For a brand used to playing second fiddle to big-spending rival Nike, turnabout is fair play. Adidas Originals is a Facebook powerhouse thanks to its trove of quality content and event information. The brand has a "your area" tab that populates with localized content.
Stats: 2.1 million fans; posts photos and videos; updates a few times per week.
Missed Opportunity... Nike. As the ultimate passion brand, Nike would figure to be quite popular on Facebook. And it has amassed 382,000 followers. But talk about anti-social. Nike hasn't updated the page since July. Just do it, Nike.
For some brands, fan bases are best built around characters. That's been the case for Aflac, which has attracted fans for its trademark duck's quirky updates. The brand gets the character's voice right, mixing charity pleas with offbeat takes on news from the duck's perspective.
The company, seeing how far it can go, has taken the duck to Twitter where he's attracted over 3,000 followers.
Stats: 161,000 fans; mixes updates with charity pitches and contests; posts daily.
Missed Opportunity... Geico gecko. If a duck can do it, a lizard can, too. Yet the Geico gecko has never found his footing on Facebook. The page has just 6,800 fans. The lizard's droll tone doesn't carry over to the site. Instead, his updates sound a lot like the voice of a PR pro.
The automaker has lately fared better across the board than its domestic peers. It's also beating its competitors in social media, including on Facebook. Ford Mustang has built up a loyal following, and Ford is an active updater on the company's official corporate page.
Stats: Over 370,000 fans on the Ford, Mustang and Fusion pages; mix of product and event information with photos and videos.
Missed Opportunity... Toyota has nearly 50,000 fans, yet it hasn't updated its page since June.
It's hard to find anyone who's a fan of air travel nowadays -- but there are plenty of them on Southwest's Facebook page, which succeeds with a personal approach. Rather than craft a brand voice, for instance, Southwest introduces "hosts" Lindsey and Christi. Frequent polling keeps interaction high. Southwest has more Facebook cachet than hotter brands like JetBlue and Virgin America.
Stats: 80,000 fans; high customer engagement thanks to fun promos.
Missed Opportunity... United Airlines. Not exactly a passion brand, United Airlines could stand to have something more than an empty page with 11,000 intrepid fans.
A case in point is a brand experience where real and virtual worlds intersect, called The Grid. A mobile social network that allows users to chat with friends, locate them on a map and share media, The Grid is a first for the African continent. Part Facebook, part Flickr, and a dash of Twitter combined with a GPS-type navigation system, The Grid allows customers to share their lives in a mobile location-based matrix with all of their friends.
The application is all about socializing on the go. If users want to have a cup of coffee with a friend, all they need do is log into The Grid to see which friends are nearby and tag the location of a nearby coffee shop. Then they send a coffee invitation with directions to tempt their mate to pop on over. If the coffee drinking duo wants more friends to join them, they can log in again and type up a blog, message or record a quick video and invite everyone who’s free and happens to be nearby.
Because The Grid displays the user’s approximate position on a street map, everyone can easily see where friends are and what they are doing where. Users from any network can join in because the independent and network-neutral application was developed to showcase innovative new technologies to all South Africans.
“There are several areas where users get significant value when interacting with The Grid,” says Vincent Maher, portfolio manager for social media at Vodacom. “The service enables low-cost and real-time conversations, as well as an opportunity to meet new people and interact with them via mobile phones. Then users can create the mobile equivalent of a blog by combining multimedia elements and maps to show where the content was created. The Grid is a highly social environment, and what we are seeing is that people love to share their experiences and contribute to creating a social map of their experiences across all walks of life in South Africa.”
The Grid is offered as a free or value-added service to users, who only pay for the data usage from their mobile phone to access the service. “Right now people are using The Grid to meet and interact with friends and new people, and to share their experiences through photos and stories about the things they do in their day-to-day lives. The service is busy most of the day, but usage peaks in the evenings when people are home from work and relaxing,” Maher says.
The winner of the New Telecommunications Service at the Comms MEA Awards—held to recognize outstanding performance in the Middle East and African telecommunications sector—The Grid’s branding plays a significant role in promoting the larger Vodacom brand as a technological mover and shaker. Not only does it underscore innovation as a key brand value, but it does so in a way that is completely experiential. What’s more, it is changing the way marketing is delivered by offering a new paradigm for brand messaging.
“The Grid demonstrates how the physical and digital can be meshed to create a more compelling and relevant marketing message,” Maher says. “By tying location to the delivery of messages it means small businesses finally have a viable digital platform to advertise on, and this means that bigger brands can leverage multiple locations simultaneously to interact with their customers in an interesting, innovative way. There are a lot of very interesting ways that brands can leverage The Grid to integrate digital and mobile campaigns with the physical world. The revenue model has been developed in such a way that deeper integration can be done to encourage users to go to specific places as part of a promotion. Another element of the model is the ability to deliver location-targeted advertising, which makes the content of the ads more relevant.
At the heart of The Grid is the digital marketing “holy grail”—the viral effect. “Usage is driven partly by viral growth as users invite their friends to join and partly by innovative media integrations,” Maher says. The more friends users have on The Grid, the more they can get out of the service and the more they can do with it.
“The stickiness is directly connected to how many friends a user has and the quality of conversations. The ability to meet new people without revealing your mobile number is also very appealing and, as users become more advanced, they start to use the features like the street maps and content uploads,” he says.
To launch the new service, Vodacom commissioned the world’s first geo-tagged documentary for mobile phones, which centered on the issue of youth culture in South Africa’s biggest urban township, Soweto. Called Mobikasi (literally translated this meansmobile township), the mobile documentary utilizes The Grid’s location-based service capabilities to tag real-life physical locations and link them to relevant content in the movie.
When users look at the film, they can explore Sowetan youth culture on their mobile phones from anywhere in South Africa through The Grid’s map interface, or by physically touring the famous township and watching documentary clips on their phones at the locations where they were shot.
Mobikasi features people, music, fashion, social issues and places of interest and is unique in that it is not linear in nature. Rather, Mobikasi splits the content up into 25 one-minute inserts, and each is geo-tagged to the location where it was shot. This means that viewers can now explore Soweto’s vibrant youth culture by virtually “traveling” through a mobile street map of the township and stopping off at points of interest to enjoy the short video clips about each destination.
The mobile documentary has proved so successful that a second season of Mobikasi is on its way and will take place in other townships around South Africa.
In short, The Grid is a smart social networking solution with a branding strategy and message that targets a continent where mobile connections are more pervasive than television, the radio or the Internet.
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