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Public Relations/Advertising/Marketing

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the above picture is worth a thousand and five words. Disney proved the power of overlaying text on an image with this graphic.  Following an increasing trend of graphic quotes on social media, Disney posted this image on Facebook Monday, July 16th at 1:57PM. With a fan base of over 37 million, this post was shared 95,000 times on Facebook thus far.  That is incredible to me!  But this is the reason why you are seeing a plethora of quotes embedded in images all across social media – particularly Facebook and Pinterest.

Bottom line: People love quotes and people love images. Put them together and you’ve got a winning combination.

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QR codes remind me of the 2004 film, Mean Girls, in which the character Gretchen keeps on using this made up word, ‘fetch’ in hopes that she would start a catchphrase. Finally, some screamed at her, “Gretchen, stop trying to make ‘fetch‘ happen!” This is exactly what I want to say to marketers; “stop trying to make QR codes happen!”

In theory, QR codes seem like a great marketing tool – you can easily track data, they are (or were) innovative, the technology is relatively inexpensive, they can provide a great deal of information to consumers, and they require customer interaction.  But in practice, most QR codes prove to be a waste of money, time, and resources.  According to a survey released by Chadwick Martin Bailey earlier this year, “57% of consumers who have scanned a QR code say they did nothing with the information, compared to 21% who shared the information with someone and 18% who made a purchase.”  You don’t need to be an analyst to see that these numbers are not on the side of the QR code. If consumers aren’t using them, then what is the point?

Why aren’t consumers using QR codes? The reasons why could be many:  Does the consumer understand this technology? Maybe they don’t like to proactively seek out their marketing (smartphones do not automatically come equipped with a QR code reader, you have to download an app)? Google thinks people are scared for security issues.  Or maybe it’s because marketers have fallen on their faces too many times offering consumers useless information via codes (i.e. scanning the code takes you directly to the company’s homepage. Have you heard of a URL?) or they have released QR codes with poor execution and strategy that they have simply become laughable (see all the awful uses of QR codes here: wtfqrcodes.com).

Whatever the actual reasoning may be, the point is, consumers aren’t using them.  Yet, it’s hard to turn the corner or the page without seeing a QR code. Even if marketers stepped up their QR code game, which they have (see Scandinavian Airlines‘ or FirstBank‘s initiatives), it seems like the past is working against them. Marketers are going to fight an uphill battle to make these work.  Personally, I think it is time to jump the shark (if it hasn’t already been jumped) and move on. QR codes have lost their luster in consumer’s eyes, so marketers, it’s time to take off those sunglasses and see the reality of things.

Pinterest is going to be huge this year. And I think this not just because I love the site, but because of the burst of user growth in such a short time. This growth even happened despite Pinterest.com being an “invitation-only” network. Plus, according to a Shareaholic’s “Referral Traffic Report, “Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google Plus,  LinkedIn and YouTube combined.”  This is HUGE!!!

For those who don’t know what Pinterest is, it is basically a marriage of social bookmarking and a virtual “inspiration board.” Users can see something on the web and “pin it.” Then you organize all these “pins” by categorizing them and placing them on boards.  For instance, I have a board called “Yummy,” and within this board, I have “pins” of different recipes I want to try out in the future. It’s akin to seeing something in a magazine, tearing it out, and saving it in a folder for future use.  In short, it is a social media network that allows users to show off their taste to friends, organize by topic, and share effortlessly with a click of a button.

To add to its success, Pinterest is connected to Facebook – the biggest social media site out there. This connection can only increase Pinterest attention and traffic, leading to a steady stream of new users. With this kind of momentum, brands and advertisers are being forced to take notice. Once more and more brands join, you can consider Pinterest a success in 2012. However, not all brands should invest in this social, it should be for brands that want to sell a lifestyle.

As a clothing brand or designer, you can showcase different outfit choices for people to “pin.”  As a food product, you can add recipes using your product as an ingredient. But word to the wise, do not do what Cabot Cheese has done. They have upset users by spamming friend’s pins with comments on how the recipes would be better if they used Cabot products instead.

There is a lot of potential in this medium, and it will be interesting to see the creative ways brands reach out to users. Though all the potential ways brands will use Pinterest is unknown, we do know (or I think it is safe to assume) that Pinterest will be huge in 2012.

The BlackBerry name has tarnished this year. First, the release of the BlackBerry PlayBook, the hopeful iPad competition, received less than mixed reviews. The sales ended up minuscule compared to that of the iPad. Next, in August, there was this little thing called the London Riot. BlackBerry’s BBM messaging service was said to be the medium of communication for the rioters, thus connecting the BlackBerry name with criminal acts of looting and property destruction.  And most recently, there was the 3-day world-wide RIM outage that disrupted the e-mail, messaging, and internet services for millions of customers – this ended today.

These factors, especially the outages, could not have happened at a more inopportune time for BlackBerry. Next Tuesday kicks off RIM’s annual U.S. developer conference – where they had planed to drum-up support for their new line of smartphones built on the QNX operating system and the updated BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0.  I’m sure they were hoping for a lot of positive attention and support, especially with the launch of the iPhone 4S and the growing success of Google’s Android phones; the competition is getting thick.

For customers and investors, the recent past must make you wonder whether or not BlackBerry can keep its service running and grow as a company – and whether or not you should jump the shark.  So will BlackBerry be able to survive and work past these issues? I think they can, but in order to survive, they need to implement some superb marketing and PR… oh, and also they might need to rethink RIM.

BlackBerry’s big selling point has been their heightened security. They need to market this selling point and not let this outage make customers think they are any less secure. Security is big and should be a concern of smartphone users, especially with m-commerce and portable business becoming more and more popular.

In addition to their security, they need to market to the correct demographic. RIM pushed BlackBerries at London youth, and it got them the London Riots. Stick to what you are already known for – corporate and business – and grow that industry, there’s more business to tap into.

There is a reason why BlackBerries are referred to as “CrackBerries,” they have a devout, loyal following. Public relation needs to act fast and clean up the current outage mess, pacifying their BlackBerry advocates.  BlackBerry wouldn’t want this lapse in service to push those CrackBerry users into rehab, causing them to switch over to Apple or Android.

Finally, hope that the reviews of the PlayBook 2.0 and QNX phones are killer!  They need to distract the consumer and give them something positive to associate the BlackBerry name with!

Steve Jobs has resigned as Apple’s CEO and will be replaced by the company’s COO, Tim Cook. Just a couple of hours after this announcement, Apple’s stocks fell as much as 7%. This drop in stocks illustrates the fears in what everyone is wondering; What will happen to Apple now that Jobs has left? Will Apple’s success continue post Jobs?

These fears and lack of faith, shown by the drop in stocks are somewhat warranted. Steve Jobs’ vision and entrepreneurship turned Apple from a bankrupt company into the world’s most valuable company in a little over a decade with the release of products such as the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. But maybe Job’s biggest success weren’t the products, but the Apple brand and culture.

Apple products may not always be cutting edge or the first, but Jobs and Apple did a good job making you think they are. Take the iPod. This wasn’t the first mp3 player, but it has become common nomenclature to refer to an mp3 player as an iPod. What more, Apple products are not always the most capable on the market. For instance, other tablets are able to do more than the iPad, but the iPad is still number one. So why does Apple always become the dominant player in the market?

It is because of Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is synonymous with Apple.  I would say this is because Jobs is a natural salesman and marketer – the perfect spokesman.  He explains the technology in plain-speak, interjects catchy phrases that stick, and has the great ability to create hype. He sells his products as experiences, not as a product.  He also does a great job when it comes to design, making sure the products are intuitive to the user, simple, and sleek.  When i got my iPad, it didn’t come with a manual, just one slip of paper for instructions.  There is no doubt that Steve Jobs is the main reason why the company is back on top.

But now enter Tim Cook, the current COO.  He is in no way an innocent in Apple’s success. He is responsible for revamping Apple’s production processes and supply chain, allowing the company to handle demand, and thus increasing profits. He is why Wall street loves Apple.  But what scares some is that Cook has spent most of his time on the things that consumers never see.  So will he be able to reach the consumer like Jobs did? Can he replace Jobs’ visionary?

Part of Jobs success was surrounding himself with talent. If you don’t believe Apple will continue its success, then you are betting against Steve Jobs decision-making ability – which has been pretty successful thus far.   I don’t know if there is replacing a guy like Steve Jobs, but Cook knows the product, the culture, and he has been acting interim CEO while Jobs took health-related leave of absences.  Cook has been groomed for this position. Bottom line, don’t count Apple out.

London is burning, again. In the last couple days, rioters have joined forces, upset by the death of Mark Duggan, through the means of social media. Recently, social media has been central to uprising, such as those in the Arab world. It makes sense, since you have the power to reach millions in just seconds! So the organization of protests via social media is nothing new, but unlike other protests, these efforts have proven to be entirely destructive in nature. Rioters are breaking into businesses, looting, fighting back, and setting fire to cars and buildings.

It also seems that this riot chose a different medium to get the message out. In other protests, Facebook and Twitter have been the main sources of distributing messages, however, this riot seemed to be orchestrated mostly through the more underground system of Blackberry’s BBM messaging. It has been said that Blackberry is a cheaper alternative to smartphones, and have been heavily marketed to black youth in London – the main demographic participating in these riots. Blackberry is now in a bad position. They try to help police, but are threatened by the rioters.

As these riots continue, there is another group of people harnessing social media’s power for the greater good of London. Groups are forming over the internet to organize cleanup of the riot aftermath. On Twitter, @riotcleanup and #riotcleanup are the two main sources for disseminating the time and location of the next cleanup. Facebook has had similar group pages pop up, like London Cleanup (http://www.facebook.com/londoncleanup).

Within this London riot, we have seen social media and technology work both ways. It has created destruction and chaos, but it has also allowed London to come together, stop the riots, and cleanup the messes made by the riots.

Spotify has opened their doors to American music listeners. Klout users with high scores were granted first access to Spotify.  Klout scores your overall online influence. If the user has a great Klout score, which in essence means you are a top influencer within social media, you could get a Spotify Premium account.

By teaming up with Spotify, Klout has self-validated their claims of finding influencers and generated a lot of buzz for their cause.  But I’m not convinced that their scores are an accurate measurement of your online influence. Klout scores range from 1 to 100, higher scores represent a wider and stronger influence. These score are generated using over 35 variables (clicks, comments, interactions, tweets, retweets, etc…) on Facebook, Twitter in three categories: True Reach, Amplification Probability and Network Score.

Yes, in essence, influence is having the ability to drive action from others, convincing them something is important. So I guess if someone retweets something you posted, you could be considered influential. But being influential is a pretty vague concept and like most things, influence is relative.

I have a couple of friends who are obsessed with increasing their Klout score utilizing simple methods like adding hashtags and links, mentioning each other in tweets,and re-tweeting each other’s tweet.. They have successfully increased their Klout score, but are they really that more influential now? Probably not, maybe within their small circle, but I think instead they have just created more action and Klout confuses this with influence.

Another factor that questions Klout’s measurement accuracy of influence is that my score says I’m influential about Zappos. I simply follow Zappos on Twitter. I have not mentioned them in my tweets or Facebook posts, and I’ve only shopped with them a handful of times in my life. I have no clue how I would be influential about Zappos.

So bottom line, be weary of those who throw their Klout score around and want you bow down to them.  Actual influence is harder to measure than with just a Klout score.  But hey, if it gets me one of the first American invites to Spotify, I’ll play along 🙂