Posts Tagged ‘Business’

I’ve always been a fan of Hootsuite. I’ve been touting them as the best Twitter client while everyone else was clamoring over seesmic and tweetdeck. Well folks, this is why:

Hootsuite upgraded to HTML 5 not too long ago, an impressive move on it’s own. Today, they astound their users yet again with another update, this time focusing on improving the quality of content through the institution of additional filter systems, along with a new Social CRM features.

The filter system is incredibly easy to use, and allows us to further refine the content that floods our streams every day. For power users and professional social media folk, like myself, following 5000 people is a daunting task. Tools like this allow users search within their pre-established columns and tabs, either by Klout Score (Influence) or by keyword.

This functionality has been lacking from twitter and 3rd party clients. I’m shocked it took so long for someone to do this the right way, but I’m not in the least bit surprised it was Hootsuite.

Add to that the additional “Insights” that appear in a new tab within the pop-up profile boxes, integrations with “Zendesk for customer service, and you’ve got the makings of a twitter app/client to destroy all others as the premier package for personal and professional use.

I’m not sure how many of you took the survey (using User Voice, an awesome crowdsourcing tool if you haven’t seen it). I did, and I’m glad to see that a lot of the user feedback and ideas are incorporated into this evolving product. H00t H00t.

This also just happens to be a brilliant way for Hootsuite to build buzz just prior to the imminent Paid Premium Service launch.

Here are the basics, excerpted from the press release.

Filter by Influence

Drill down into your network by filtering columns by influence score. Sorting by Klout’s algorithmically-produced score allows you to learn which followers and contacts enjoy the widest reach. Ideal for quickly identifying campaign candidates or response priority.

Filter by Keyword

Too many messages to sort through? No problem. Filter your columns on-the-fly by keyword. Type in your desired word to remove the extraneous updates and focus on what’s on your mind. Ideal for tracking topics and prospecting for clients.

Follower Insights

Get to know your network with the knowledge behind the “Insights” tab . Learn where your contacts Hang-out online including publicly available links to social profiles, a collection of images, even occupations and title — all in one view

Hoot to Zendesk Support

Where does social networking end and tech support begin? It doesn’t matter since Twitter updates can now become track-able tickets directly in the popular help desk app, Zendesk . This integration helps streamline your customer service and ensure quality responses.

Organization View

Since HootSuite released Team Collaboration tools, many users have added extensive networks. Now managing your colleagues is easier thanks to a new view which shows your contacts on each network, along with a simple way to add more team members.

To get started, click the Owl, choose Settings, then My Organizations to tune-up your teams.

From enterprises to start-ups, HootSuite is pleased to help businesses and organizations reach out to spread messages, monitor conversations and track results.

As you may know, we’re excited about releasing paid plans in the coming weeks. Keep in mind, HootSuite will remain free for an estimated 95% of users based on current usage patterns. Meanwhile, premium users will enjoy access to extra features, high limits and prioritized support.

We’ll release details in the coming weeks but to preview, the paid plans will offer:

* Unlimited social networks
* Unlimited RSS feeds
* Team members on social networks
* Advanced analytics & reports
* Expedited support

Droid™ vs. Android – Examining The Nuances of SmartPhone Marketing

They are often used interchangeably when referring to ever-growing & increasingly popular line of smartphones that run on Google technology. The difference, for most purposes, is one of legal definitions and intellectual property. Android simply refers to the operating system and software that powers phones built by any of number manufacturers, including HTC or Motorola, and that run on any of the major carriers.

Droid, on the other hand, is a term coined and owned by LucasFilm Ltd., the licensing rights for which Verizon had to purchase in order to brand their specific line of Android Smartphones.

You’d think the difference ends there, but those two little letters have had a much bigger impact that one might predict.

Now, what this essentially boils down to is how Verizon markets Google smartphones versus how every other carrier does, might, would, or should.

Just for comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at the Sprint HTC EVO 4G & HTC Incredible TV spots and the new & Droid X teaser for good measure.

What’s the difference? In my eyes, Sprint is trying to say too much, and to the wrong audience: Tell a story, tout 4G, claim market primacy, compel viewers to think “what could I do with 4G,” with their multiple calls to action. Oh and the phone has a kickstand…

I wouldn’t say it’s a terrible spot. What is it then? A traditional broadcast commercial promoting a very nontraditional piece of technology to an anti-traditional audience.

The consumer they’re trying to reach (or should be) doesn’t care about narratives. The audience that buys first-to-market smartphones, that understands “4G,” either already knows the EVO basics or can read about them online. In that respect, the messaging is (potentially) redundant. They spent money on that air time and could have created something bigger, rather than list the features of their phone.

Verizon got that (or their agency did). The commercial is thus about creating a brand, one built around a single defining concept idea – DOING (or ‘does’). Because they know their audience and their audience doesn’t care how pretty an iPhone is that can’t multitask or support USB, or if EVO’s run on a new and almost nonexistent 4G network.

And Note – Verizon’s tactics transcend manufacturer. The execution for the HTC Incredible is strategically aligned with that of the Motorola Droid X. That’s what building a brand is all about people.

So, where does this leave the other carriers? Should they emulate Verizon and try to build their own proprietary brand around Google technology, or is it too late for that? Do you disagree and think their spot would have been more successful if the phone itself wasn’t such a dud?

Disclaimer:

I used to work for the agency that represented, until recently, Verizon Wireless. I won’t go into the gory details of the McCann – Verizon – McGarry-Bowen situation, mostly because I don’t know them and don’t care to. I did, however, out of respect for my former employer, refrain from posting this until after I left (today being my first day at Advertising Age).

Disclaimer 2:

Any Thoughts Contained In This Blog, In Any Post, Are My Own, And Do Not Reflect Any Employer, Current, Past, or Future.

Ask 50 people what the number 1 rule in business is and you’ll likely get 50 different responses. Regardless, I’m sure most would agree that “Don’t Promise Your Customers Something You Can’t Deliver” is high up on the list of “don’ts.”

Now, I preface my forthcoming complaint with 1 caveat:

I greatly admire Starbucks for jumping on new media, technologies, platforms and generally attempting to keep the brand evolving alongside consumers. Be it with unbranded stores, partnering with Klout, the legendary My Starbucks Idea, or being the first major brand to tout a Foursquare Promotion in which Mayors supposedly receive special promotions or discounts at specific location at which they reign (this being the subject of my imminent rant), they clearly see the value in the primacy and innovative thinking that dominate successful modern marketing.

As a Social Media Marketer, Community Manager, Creative Technologist, and Digital Trendhunter (yes, I AM all of those things, so bite me), I am quite familiar with the territory and how difficult it must be to brave the unknown and forge ahead in spite of landmines and obstacles that saturate the landscape. Understanding this, I will happily grant brands the latitude to explore new ideas and forgiveness for blunders that occur under noble (at least for marketing standards) intentions. But in the case I’m about to discuss, we’re closer to false advertising than we are to easily dismissed road bumps in a beta program.

That said, the aforementioned programs are worth shit if no one at Starbucks is actually aware of what’s going on. Case in point, this morning I happened upon a Starbucks which I routine (I’m verbing that word, as opposed to say, “frequent”).

This is the Starbucks In Question

Having only been there a handful of times, I didn’t think that “Checking In” on foursquare would have any impact on my quest for the elusive Mayorship, but lo and behold, while standing there on line, boom, I was crowned mayor and notified of my reward.

Mayorship Official

I was entitled to a $1 discount on any Frappuccino.

Starbucks Venue Page on Foursquare

And so, with a stupid ass grin plastered on my face, I walked up to the Barista and kindly asked for the frap, with discount, courtesy of the promotion and showed her my phone with the corresponding messaging displayed. She had no idea what I was talking about. Neither did the manager. The convo went as follows (not verbatim, but essentially this is what happened):

Me: Hi, I’d like a Grande Caramel Frapp with the $1 Foursquare Mayorship Discount. Do you need to see the phone? Here [Showed her the phone].

Barista: Um, I’m not sure if we do that, hold on [Gets manager].

Me: Hi, Do you do the Foursquare promotion for mayors? [Showed him my phone].

Manager: What’s foursquare? I never got that memo, sorry.

Consequently, I left, quite unhappy, and walked straight into the Dunkin Donuts around the corner (though they screwed up my order, at least the didn’t renege on any promises.

After Tweeting my incredibly frustrating and disappointing experience, I found that I was not the only one to encounter such ineptitude. This was sent to me by a twitter friend, Cassie:

Every weekday morning I go to the same Starbucks.  Not only is it convenient but, they know me there and are always friendly and consistent.  While I’m waiting for my drink, I usually check in on Foursquare.  I have about 30 checkins in the past two months and I’ve been the mayor for several months now and since where I live (Albany, NY) isn’t really the mecca of social media, I doubt that anyone will oust me any time soon.  Although I’ve been the mayor for this long, I hadn’t yet tried to use my $1 off a Frappaccino until this weekend.

I stopped by my regular Starbucks on Sunday morning and I ordered my normal hot drink and a Frappaccino and then said “Also, I’m the Foursquare mayor here.  What do I need to show you to get my $1 off?”  The look that the barista gave me when I said this was sheer confusion and dismay…like I had spoken to her in some kind of alien language.  I then proceed to show her the screen that said I was the mayor, the coupon that pops up on all Starbucks locations and generally try to explain how Foursquare works and that this is a nationwide promotion.  She was more than confused by all of this and kept mentioning that she would need a promo code in order to give the discount.  There was another barista working who also said he had never heard of the promotion or Foursquare.  I was starting to get annoyed and the barista probably picked up on this and offered to give me the $1 off anyway.  She took copious notes and I told her just to Google it and she would see the press release from Starbucks.  I paid, took my drinks and left.

I went back this morning (as usual) and asked the two ladies that I see every morning if they knew about the promotion.  Both of them said they had not heard of it.  Thankfully, I don’t really like Frappaccinos.

All the best,
Cassie Cramer

And Twitter Cohort Joe Hester Brought This “Jaffe Juice” Post to my attention, for yet another example.

Which brings me to a very big WTF Starbucks?

Starbucks FAIL

In addition to an angry ‘tip,’

Angry "Tip"

I’ve tweeted the @Starbucks account 2x since this egregious communication breakdown with no response. Which brought about this post.

I’m very torn here – I want to just not care, it’s only a dollar, and like Cassie, I’m not particularly fond of Frappuchinos. But as someone who’s job it is to devise and advise on programs like these, such problems are simply unacceptable. Right? It’s not like this is a secret promotion they’re running. Just look at how many outlets have covered it!

Where do you  guys weigh in here?

AKA The “I don’t care about the World Cup” Edition 🙂

Stay Tuned For My In Depth Coverage/Review of Everything I Learned at the Ad Age Creativity & Technology (CaT) Conference, by far one of the best and most valuable and interesting events I’ve ever had the privilege to attend. I rank it up there with TED and SXSW. Oh, and I’ll be looking over this new Klout “Facebird” thing and will have my thoughts for you next week. Klout is definitely going to be huge. HUGE!

Klout to Launch Facebird for Facebook

Heineken Lets Beer Drinkers Customize Their Bottles

Stickybits Rolls Out “Official” Branded Bits, Signs Up Pepsi As First Advertiser

Twitter Acquires Smallthought Systems to Integrate Analytics Tools

Reaching Teen Influencers with Social Messages

Are Typosquatters Hijacking Your Brand?

More Adults than Teens Consume Mobile Video

Mind Over Mass Media

Hispanic Moms’ Online Shopping Habits

Mobile Apps to Hit $32 Billion in Five Years

Google Launches Video Ad for TV Effort

Google Mobile Trivia Feature Activited: But, Keep Your Questions Short if You Use Speech-to-Text

Experts Predict We’ll Be Working in the Cloud by 2020 [STUDY]

City of New York Blankets Times Square with Giant QR Codes

Fashion Mag Turns to Facebook to Find New Stylists

Why Japan Matters: iPad Mania, Cloud Computing, And Social Intelligence

Online Video Viewing Shifts to Long Form Content

How Consumers Interact with Brands on Social Media

Trada brings crowdsourcing to online advertising.

Awareness of Location Based Social Networks Currently 7% Of Americans 12+

Google, come clean on Wi-Fi spying

Twitter to Eliminate Third-Party Ads in User Timelines

Twitter, Customer Service, and Good Brand Management

The Psychology of Web Design

Epicenter Mind Our Tech Business: Inside Foursquare: Checking In Before the Party Started (Part I)

Klout Launches Site Wide Refresh In Bid To Become The Arbiter Of Influence

Shortbord Launches Public Beta: Employs “Enduring Exposure” To Unlock Mystery of Real Time Social Endorsements

Victoria’s Secret Shares the Facebook Like Button a Whole New Way

Twitter To Prohibit Any Third Party To Advertise In-Stream

Papa John’s Recruits Facebook Fans to Create Next Pizza

Simplify Foursquare Checkins with Barcode Scanning Android App

TweetUp Launches “AdSense For Twitter” Product At #TCDisrupt

Zynga And 7-Eleven Strike Branding Deal, 10% Of The U.S. Now Playing FarmVille

Vivaki Predicts $100M Market for Choose-Your-Own-Ad Format

Facebook Shopping Mall Snares a $1.5 Million Investment

Millennial Media: Android Ad Impressions Rise 77 Percent In April, iPhone Sees 8 Percent Drop

Facebook Users’ Phone Numbers Exposed by “Evil” App

Hulu Gets Tricked Into Running On Android 2.2

Twitter’s Most Influential Users [INFOGRAPHIC]

Facebook CEO: We Will Add Simpler Privacy Controls

A Resume Is Not Enough: How to Market Yourself Online


An Inside Look At Facebook Questions, The Next “Killer App” Of Facebook

What Are Mothers In Asia Up To Online?

Why Google’s Android Could Rule Connected Cars

DST’s Yuri Milner: Facebook Is Going To Be The Social Graph That Unifies All Civilization

Rivals Seize on Troubles of Facebook

New Media, Old Media: How Blogs and Social Media Agendas Relate and Differ from Traditional Press

Crystal-Clear, Maybe Mesmerizing

10 foursquare secrets worth making ‘public’

Google TV: What Does It Mean for Advertisers?

I won’t go into all the ramifications of Facebook’s new social plugins and bid to dominate the interwebs. You can check out the Carrot Creative Blog for a nice little “what it means for you” recap, along with Mashable’s constant, sometimes in depth/sometimes superficial, coverage of the new tools and announcements, as well.

What I’ve noticed is that the tech battles that are currently brewing transcend industry or product. To name a few:

Facebook  vs Twitter vs Foursquare

Facebook vs Google

Google vs Apple

Google vs Microsoft & Yahoo

My question, as such, is – if you were to relegate control of you entire online behavior and identity to one of these dominant entities, which would it be? Which brand engenders trust? Functionality? Personality?

We may not have to actively make this decision in the near future, but we are passively acknowledging its growing preeminence it every time we go online. Sooner or later – and probably sooner, Facebook’s open social graph will collide head on with Google’s open ID, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple launched an alternative – anti-culture – subversive  – nonconformist version of the concept: One ID to rule them all. Add to that the truly independent competition – the open source Wikipedia/Firefox-ish rival.

In fact, it may – and probably will – boil down to what browser you use as your portal to the digiverse – Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or the inevitable Facebook Browser that will be the culmination of their efforts to connect the web and infuse Facebook’s presence in every online destination.

So – I ask again – if you had to turn over near-complete control of your online activities to one of these brands – insofar as they will manage you – your email, social activities, functions and features, web browsing, shopping the advertisements you receive, your financial information, etc… to provide a seamless, integrated and unified experience – Who would you trust? Who would you prefer as your Internet partner-in-crime-and-everything-else? I know I trust Google to develop functional tools, I trust Facebook exploits my personal information to create a more socially enhanced experience – even if it is at the cost of my privacy. I trust Apple do design innovative and aesthetically pleasing “things” that boast superior user experience and interface, but may lack in the features/functionality department (Can someone say MULTITASKING?)

Anyway…PLEASE weigh in here and in the comments. Thanks!

Featured: TAT augmented ID [Video]


Google Escalates The Location War With Google Places – [TechCrunch]

Friends vs. Strangers: What’s Next for Foursquare? And ChatRoulette? – [TechCrunch]

Adgregate Markets’ ShopFans Brings Social Retail Storefronts To Facebook – [TechCrunch]

Nielsen: Facebook’s Ads Work Pretty Well – [Ad Age]

Measuring The Value Of Social Media Advertising – [TechCrunch]

2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report – [Social Media Examiner]

Forrester Announces Peer Influence Analysis: An Analytical Framework to Inform Social Media Marketing Strategy – [MarketWatch]

Facebook Now Commands 41% of Social Media Traffic [STATS] – [Mashable]

The Formula for Effective Facebook Ads [REPORT] – [Mashable]

Revisit Lets You Create A Beautiful, Animated Twitter Wall – [Mashable]

Facebook May Launch Recommendation Service For Other Websites – [ReadWriteWeb]

Facebook E-Commerce App Payvment Allows Retailers To Use Coupons To Attract Fans – [TechCrunch]

Facebook Asks You To ‘Become A Fan’ Of All Your Interests – [TechCrunch]


Facebook Introduces Community Pages, Hopes To Make Them “Best Collections Of Shared Knowledge” – [TechCrunch]


6 experimental social media campaigns – [iMediaConnection]


Insert Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Tiger Woods Joke

OTHER RANDOMNESS

Barbie’s Unflattering Photos – She’s Not So Perfect After All! [Bit Rebels]


Ingenious: Free Music If You Talk About It on Facebook or Twitter [WIRED]

Steve Jobs Reiterates: “Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone” [TechCrunch]

AND…MY PERSONAL FAVORITE:

Satirical whizzes bringing Book of Mormon…

to Broadway

Consumers Follow Social Brand Referrals
http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007630

Consumers Follow Social Brand Referals

National Study Reveals How Teens Are Shaping & Reshaping Their Wireless World: Study Sheds New Light On Teens’ Cell Phone Habits, Expectations & Dream Phone Wishes
http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/allnewsbydate.asp?NewsID=1334

Man uses briefcase GPS to draw self portrait across the whole planet
http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/man-uses-briefcase-gps-to-draw

Glympse Brings Real-Time Location Sharing To Facebook
http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/15/glympse-brings-real-time-location-sharing-to-facebook

KFC Puts the SPIN on the Double Down Sandwich
http://www.spinsucks.com/advertising/kfc-puts-the-spin-on-the-double-down-sandwich/

What is GEOFocus, and Why Did We Launch It?
http://www.ianschafer.com/2010/04/what-is-geofocus-and-why-did-we-launch-it.html

Hoodie Updates Your Facebook Status With Gestures
http://www.geeksugar.com/Hoodie-Updates-Your-Facebook-Status-Gestures-8110276

Yahoo Scientist Questions ROI of Kardashian’s Sponsored Tweets
http://adage.com/digiconf10/article?article_id=143301

Google Suggest Becomes More Local
http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/16/google-suggest-becomes-more-local/

My Primary Sources Of Info:
http://twittertim.es/Aerocles
http://www.emarketer.com/RecentArticles.aspx
http://mashable.com
http://techcrunch.com


Last night I received an email from Klout, the Twitter profile analysis tool and website, asking if I’d like to participate in a new program in which they pair big brands with influential Twitterers; specifically, the program is designed (or claims to be) so that the particular promotion is directed toward – not just Twitterers with a large number of followers or those with many retweets and @mentions – but those whose posted content indicates a some sort of authority or influence or maybe merely an affinity for discussing the topic related to the brand and promotion in question.

Klout - Starbucks eMail

In this case, I apparently tweet often about coffee (guilty), and I assume, to some extent, those tweets incur replies and conversation, enough to warrant an offer for some free Starbucks coffee, anyway.

Take a look at the email and offer signup – [Screenshots included somewhere in this post]. What do you think of this program? I kinda like it – but then again, I’m getting free coffee 🙂

Have you received any offers like this? Starbucks is fairly social media savvy and have been undergoing a rebranding process for a while now – between the unbranded stores in Seattle to taking on the instant coffee market with Via to the successes of @Starbucks & My Starbucks Idea, so I’m not surprised that they’re’ paving the way in this arena. I’ve tried Ad.ly, My Likes, and Sponsored Tweets, but find their models a bit spammy. My gut feeling is that this is the closest we’ve come to a real step forward in a twitter ad/marketing model. The idea follows something I learned at a recent ARF event during social media week. The presentation was about the Science of Social Media, and one of the speakers, a brilliant man from Yahoo Research whose name escapes me at the moment, informed us that research indicated that a user’s influence on twitter couldn’t be predicted by followers or numbers alone. Rather, in order to determine if a tweet will cascade,  you’d have to combine those figures with the specific area of expertise that the person has and whether or not the content posted falls within that area of authority. — This certainly seems to fit with that theory…

What do you think?

Klout Offer SIgnup

This is my first article in a series of posts that will focus on applying social psychology to social media marketing. Little did I know it at the time, but spending 4 semesters in a social perceptions and behaviors lab in college DID come in useful! (I know, I was shocked too). I’m going to start with the Overjustification Effect

Overjustification Effect, simply put, is a description of what happens when someone offers an external incentive for a behavior already found to be intrinsically rewarding.

Lesson One: Overjustification Effect & Cognitive Evaluation Theory (CET):

Overjustification, or the undermining effect, occurs when an act that is initially driven by intrinsic motivation loses its behavioral grip as it is replaced by an additional, extrinsic motivator.

Take the example of a young child in grade school – his grades are slipping. The parents immediately recall the hyperbolous discourse surrounding positive reinforcement and tell their child, “Son, for every A you get in school, we’ll give you a dollar.”

Seems like a good deal for everyone involved right? The parents successfully motivate their child who, consequently, strives to achieve better results through the remainder of that rigorous second grade curriculum.

But what if the child already liked school – and thus was already motivated to succeed?

Sounds crazy, I know. But what if…? Well, social psychology would tell us that if the child initially enjoyed learning on its own merit, the subsequent external monetary reward would, while boosting performance in the short-term, also act to devalue the initial motivating factor – the child’s innate affinity for academia.

Now, I ‘m not going to protest the concept of positive reinforcement (surely, it beats corporal punishment) and I certainly can’t argue with years of successful marketing that tells us these types of external rewards (often in the form of deceptive or pseudo-monetary coupons, rebates, points, free samples, contest entries…etc) can influence behavior. I will, however, assert that any impact these endeavors have will be short term, and, when used within the social media landscape, are antithetical to the inherent functionality and opportunity afforded by these social platforms and the brand-consumer interactions they facilitate.

Case in point, Fan Woody. I’ve spoken out against this campaign before, so I won’t go into detail here, except as it illustrates my point and typifies an industry-wide failing. That is to say, TGI Friday’s created a fictional character (also an adversative notion when dealing with social media – which generally serves to augment the human-esque qualities in a brand, as opposed to extending its shadowy anonymity, seemingly embodied in the creation of fictitious characters like Woody), who proclaimed, “Become my fan and get a free burger!”

These sorts of brands propositions can yield a large influx of new fans – short-term, albeit deceptive & superficial, success. These new fans are not brand advocates. They are not invested in the organization. They signed up to get free shit.

I don’t think I need to ramble and rant about quality vs quantity here, but I will (I’ll keep it short, don’t worry).

When advising brands on how to manage a twitter account, the question of ROI always comes up, and it’s intricately linked to the management strategy, specifically, how you decide with whom you should follow and engage. The concern often regards numbers – “But I can only talk to X amount of people a day,” “There are a million people mentioning my brand, how do I determine which ones I should follow?” “How many followers should we aim to have at the end of the campaign?”

This is where I scoff pretentiously and say, you would rather have 1000 followers that are excited to interact with you and actively advocate for your brand, than have 10,000 followers who you garnered by giving away a free vacation to someone who used your hashtag. [Again, not trying to say these types of promotions don’t have their place – they do, and it’s usually when launching an account and should be designed to raise awareness. But that’s all – and that’s not usually necessary for big – household name – brands.]

So what about when you’re not launching a campaign or raising awareness for a new social media presence? What about the preexisting fans and followers – the ones who decided to interact with a brand on social platforms because they actually like the brand – the products, the philosophy, what it stands for? The ones social media is really all about.

Well, all that goes out the window when extrinsic drivers usurp those, valuable, authentic, sincere, innate motivators. A consumer can relate to a producer based on that organization’s brand, not overtly obvious tactics designed to influence purchasing behaviors. The consumers that relate to your brand are the ones that will advocate for you and are therefore the people to whom your efforts should cater, at least insofar as that you don’t abuse their patronage or dismiss their value in light of the appealing and alluring mega-growth (read: meaningless numbers) factor.

Based on the overjustification principal, I would go so far as to say that superficial external rewarding hinders the true potential that social media offers to brands. By actively devaluing the intrinsic motivation that drives consumers to fan or follow (or otherwise engage and interact with) brands (and their content) in the first place, there is a conscious sacrifice of quality for the sake of quantity. Artificial, manufactured growth via fast and easy methods in lieu of the organic growth achieved by brand evangelists who can, and do, influence their peers and legitimately impact consumer behaviors.

The idea of rewarding and incenting behavior probably predates any formal study marketing. However, in my opinion, gimmicky rewards have become so commonplace in social media marketing, too often are brands relying on them as long term strategies instead of for what they actually are, namely, conversation starters.

If I am going to follow a brand on twitter or fan one on Facebook, 9 times out of 10 it’s because I am already familiar with the brand and wish to augment my relationship with that brand by adding a social dimension. The benefits of such an enhanced association can include customer loyalty & CRM programs that may be partially comprised of para-monetary rewards. But when brands offer up nonsocial incentives, like TGI Friday’s now infamous Fan Woody campaign, as the basis for the interaction, yes – there is an instant and tangible ROI – but they lose out on what social platforms do best – connect brand lovers – active, consumers evangelists, with the brands they love and feel connected to.

So I beseech the marketing community – enough with the gimmicks. If you want real results, focus on enhancing the users experience with your brand, offer utility and content that allows the consumer to get the most out of their relationship with you, programs that have something to do with why these individuals are real life fans of your brand to being with.

This is what I’ve gleaned from my personal, professional, and academic experiences. But what about you? Do your experiences as a marketer speak differently? Do your experiences as a consumer reflect what I’ve discussed here?