Sunday, November 29, 2009

Is Sinterklaas racist?

During a delightful Thanksgiving dinner in London with a few Americans, an interesting conversation about "Sinterklaas" emerged from the host's recent trip to the Netherlands. As you can probably conclude, Sinterklaas is the basis for the North American figure of Santa Claus. There are some differences between Sinterklaas and Santa Claus (you can read about them here), but the one difference that piqued my interest was Sinterklaas' helpers, they're definitely not elves!

I was astounded to learn about Sinterklaass' helping hands, Black Petes. Black Petes are the men with black-painted faces wearing joker costumes that accompany Sinterklaas. According to Wikipedia, three small Moorish boys were sentenced to death for a crime they did not commit, and Sinterklaas intervened to help save them. To show their gratitude, the boys stayed with Sinterklaas to help him, tumbling and jumping on rooftops on Sinterklaas night to deliver presents. Their black skin may refer either to their Moorish background, or to the job of chimneysweep, an option is corroborated by their clothes, reminiscent of an Italian chimneysweep's costume and Pete's rooftop occupation. Another background story for Pete is that he is the devil who was enslaved by Sinterklaas. (Wikipedia)

Are Americans obsessed with being politically correct, or is this just flat out racist?

Black Dutch nationals have in recent years frequently criticized as racist the practice of having a white person in blackface portray a caricature of a 17th-century African slave. But, so far, the Dutch have vehemently rejected this and refused to change any aspect of the celebration, arguing that Black Pete is black simply because he climbs through chimneys.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How to Get Buy-in from the Head Honchos on Social Media

This is a great (and entertaining) presentation on how to convince your boss/organization that social media will further the company's marketing goals.

And if that's still not enough to win them over, below are some practical tips to help you effectively communicate to the CEO/CFO/CIO about the importance of social media, courtesy of the PR Princess.

TOP TEN ways to get buy-in from C-Suite on Social Media:
  1. Introduce social media in a "non-techie," non-threatening way. This might include sending links and screen shots of comments on Twitter or blogs that involve the company. Be sure to provide context in your message so they will know what they're looking at.
  2. Talk individually with execs or board members before you put it on the agenda at board meetings. Know who the supporters and detractors are ahead of time. Have answers for some of the detractors' stumbling blocks before you bring it up.
  3. Keep your passion for social media to a low flame. If you go into a meeting with demands and failure predictions, you will get shut down quickly.
  4. Offer to do a "Lunch and Learn" presentation for your leadership team. Keep it focused on results and not too technical.
  5. Point out successful social media programs in a "case study" format, showing that social media is measurable and generates results.
  6. Showcase how other companies in the same industry are already using social media. Chances are someone is already using it well, which may spur a call to action or a competitive response.
  7. Start listening to the brand in social media as part of your normal duties. You should never need permission to do this. Report any good things you're hearing, and alert your boss if there is a crisis brewing somewhere.
  8. Get a third-party expert to present to your board. Sometimes you will not be seen as an expert in your own organization (and that's too bad, but don't let it trip you up).
  9. Ask your current agency or public relations professional to bring it up as part of a strategic planning session or brainstorm.
  10. Anyone who's spent time around executives knows that "allowing" them to take credit for concepts and ideas is a way for things to get implemented quicker. Play the game and you'll eventually get credit for the ideas.

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

I was reminded of this beautiful poem (thanks to Miss Cherry Red) I once recited in front of classmates at university. Some days when I need a little pick me up, I refer back to this inspirational poem written by one of America's most famous poets and autobiographers, Maya Angelou. I'm sure you will all appreciate this divine piece of literary art!

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

By Maya Angelou.

The poem is narrated by Maya Angelou herself.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

VIDEO: How Does a Successful Social Media Campaign Look Like?

This newest video Socialnomics showcases how companies have successfully used social media for customer service, sales, marketing and creating brand awareness.

Here are some examples from the video below:
  • Over 300,000 businesses have a presence on Facebook and roughly a 1/3 of these are small businesses.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk grew his family business from $4 million to $50 million using social media. Gary’s eccentric personality and offbeat oenophile knowledge have proven a natural path to success with his Wine TV Library. Vaynerchuk found first hand that $15,000 in Direct Mail = 200 new customers, $7,500 Billboard = 300 new customers, $0 Twitter = 1,800 new customers.
  • Wetpaint/Altimeter Study found companies that are both deeply and widely engaged in social media significantly surpass their peers in both revenue$ and profit$. The study also found the company sales with the highest levels of social media activity grew on average by +18%, while those companies with the least amount of social activity saw their sales decline -6%.
  • Lenovo was able to achieve cost savings by a 20% reduction in call center activity as customers go to community website for answers.
  • Burger King’s Whopper Sacrifice Facebook program incented users to give up ten of their Facebook friends in return for a free Whopper. The estimated investment forwhopper-sacrifice this program was less than $50,000 yet they received 32 million media impressions which roughly estimated equals greater than $400,000 in press/media value. Which to put in context is somewhat like reaching the entire populations of 19 states (understanding this doesn’t account for unique vs. repeat visitors, etc.)
  • BlendTec increased its sales 5x by running the often humorous “Will it Blend” Videos on YouTube blending everything from an iPhone to a sneaker.
  • Dell sold $3,000,000 worth of computers on Twitter.
  • To put things into perspective, only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive return on investment. This is where the majority of media dollars reside today. I don’t believe the majority of media dollars will reside there tomorrow.
  • “You can’t just say it. You have to get the people to say it to each other,” says James Farley, CMO Ford. Ford seems to know what they are doing, especially with Scott Monty leading the social media charge. By giving away 100 Ford Fiestas to influential bloggers, 37% of Generation Y were aware of the Ford Fiesta before its launch in the United States. Is it any wonder why 25% of Ford’s marketing ford-fiesta-social-mediaspend has been shifted to digital/social media initiatives? Ford is the only US auto company that didn’t take a government loan.
  • Naked Pizza, a New Orleans Pizzeria that specializes in healthy pies, set a one day sales record using social media. In fact 68% of their sales came from people “calling in from Twitter.” On top of that (no pun intended) 85% of their new customers were from Twitter.
  • Volkswagen goes 100% Mobile for launch of GTI. The reason that I mention this is that mobile drives social media usage and social media usage drives mobile. More and more we will see most social media usage on the phone.
  • Tweets for a Cause sent out a tweet from Atlanta to encourage support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. As a result of retweets from such notables as @mashable, @G_man, @zaibatsu and others, the Atlanta Chapter site received 11,000 visitors in 24 hours as a result of this initiative by ResponseMine Interactive.
  • Intuit introduced “Live Community” into their TurboTax® products 2 years ago. Due in part to the resulting word-of-mouth, they have seen unit sales increase +30% each year and have now integrated “Live Community” into their other products like QuickBooks, Quicken, etc. “Live Community” allows customers to ask other customers questions which has proved both beneficial to the customer and to Intuit. In some instances, the customer can answer questions that Intuit isn’t allowed to answer because of regulatory restrictions.
  • Software company reports that 24% of its social media leads convert to sales opportunities
  • During Barack Obama’s rise to the White House, he garnered 5 million fans on social media and 5.4 million clicked on an “I voted for Obama” Facebook button. Most importantly this resulted in three million online shepard-fairey-obama-hope-imagedonors contributing $500 million in fundraising. An astounding 92% of the donations were in increments of less than $100.
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center witnessed a 9.5% increase in registrations by using social media.
  • Web host provider Moonfruit more than recouped its $15,000 social media investment as their Website Traffic soared +300% while correspondingly sales increased +20%. They also saw a huge lift in their organic search engine rankings getting on the first page for the term “free website builder.”
  • eBay found participants in online communities spend 54% more money.
  • 71% of companies plan to increase investments in social media by an average of 40% because: a) Low Cost Marketing b) Getting Traction c) We Have To Do It
“Think of Twitter as the canary in the coal mine.”
– Morgan Johnston, JetBlue

“Our head of Social Media is the customer”
– McDonald’s

Co-Chairman Alex Bogusky of Crispin Porter & Bogusky puts it best when he states:
“You can’t buy attention anymore. Having a huge budget doesn’t mean anything in social media…The old media paradigm was PAY to play. Now you get back what you authentically put in. You’ve got to be willing to PLAY to play.”
There are other successful social media campaigns not listed on here (some that I've had the privilege to work on), but these are just a few to help get you up to speed with what other companies have already done.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Twitter Cheat Sheet

For those of you who are new to Twitter - here is a GREAT cheat sheet you might want to check out! Courtesy of Matthew Tomassi from The Social Media Guide.

Twitter Cheat Sheet -

Thanks @matthewtommasi!