Moms stay organized with Twitter

twitter_logoWith the holidays around the corner, women with too much to do and so little time have a new ally in their quest to stay organized and it’s…Twitter!

flyladyFlyLady is an online coaching site that primarily operates through emails with helpful tips and essays to help get your life organized. It’s..

 ”..Your personal online coach to help you gain control of your house and home…She has a no-nonsense approach to getting your house and your life in order. She mixes housekeeping advice with insights about life and love and anything else that is on her mind…” 

FlyLady moms are now on Twitter and you can follow the #flylady conversations here. It’s a great group of women who don’t just use Twitter to stay motivated and organized, but they also continuously reinforce and motivate each other. The conversations are chock-full of helpful advice and humorous tips.

flylady1The use of a social media site both as a support group and a productivity tool is truly amazing and highlights  yet another innovative way to use Twitter. If you want to share your Twitter story and how you are using it in some unique manner, leave a comment or follow/tweet me your contact info at twitter.com/miad.

Despite hype, many enterprises still ambivalent about social media

While, the “Motrin Moms” debacle thrust the influential power of social media networks like blogs and Twitter into the limelight, it also highlighted the enterprise ambivalence around use of social media. Some experts placed the blame on Motrin’s poor use of social media, when in reality, Motrin didn’t leverage social media for its ad campaign or to quell the uproar over its highly controversial ad, instead it belatedly responded with a standard press release on its site.

Despite all the hype and publicity surrounding social media, there are plenty of well-known companies who  are either reluctant and/or clueless, when it comes to social media adoption. Larger companies are risk-averse and typically invest in communication/marketing channels that are mature and thoroughly vetted. Twitter is a great example of a site that probably wouldn’t pass the enterprise litmus test, partly because of its stability issues and also because enterprises still haven’t figured out how to use it effectively.

Even for the companies, who have set up accounts on many of the leading social sites, having a presence is a good start but that by itself is not enough.  Companies like Zappos have successfully leveraged social media because they have a highly engaged and customer-oriented culture where even the CEO is accessible  via Twitter. This further affirms that social media can help but it can’t replace pro-active customer engagement and to drive that interaction, companies either need to have or cultivate a customer-centric mindset. 

Infancy of social media combined with insane proliferation of new social tools and sites doesn’t help adoption either. While prominent blogs/bloggers are doing their part to further adoption of social networks, sites like Twitter could help themselves and enterprises by providing user-friendly tools to help companies manage customer engagement on their platform. This would be a much more effective way to increase enterprise adoption rather than solely relying on third-party applications or hoping that companies will figure it out themselves.

Defunct Mobio still on Twitter

mobiologo.bmpThere are plenty of hyped start ups who get tons of publicity in the leading blogs and news media in their heydays but when they go under, there isn’t much mention about them. The only time you typically hear about them again is when the founders resurface under the banner of a new venture or cause.  

One of those ventures that gets mentioned occasionally at networking events in the valley is Mobio,  who is still advertised under ‘downloads’ on Twitter but the company is no longer in business.

Mobio-shot

Mobio Networks was a startup that received a good deal of publicity from Venturebeat, Mashable and $9million in funding in 2007 because of their nifty mobile ‘lifestyle’ services and widgets for mobile consumers. However, based on the note on their now defunct website, they have folded their business (at least in the US).  

“Mobio Networks is winding down its US operations. As a result most of our portals and apps are currently “off the air”. We appreciate your patience as we work through several alternative ways to bring back the services.”

User comments and valley rumors seem to indicate that their downfall was caused by their inability to execute and the VCs pulled out (probably in that order). This should be a lesson to all start ups that funding isn’t everything, ability to execute is key. If you are not able to execute or monetize and the funding dries up, your venture is on its way to becoming the latest Silicon Valley roadkill.

I heard that the company founders are still in the valley working on their next mobile venture, this time it’s in the B2B space. I’ll add more details as I find out.

In Motrin moms debacle, the winner is Twitter

If you missed the Motrin debacle on Twitter today, you can follow the thread here and watch the ad that started this brouhaha on the Motrin website (if they haven’t pulled it down already). Here’s the saga in brief, Motrin put out couple of ‘We feel your pain’ ads on its website, one of which ‘supposedly’ feels the mom’s pain when they have to ‘wear their baby’ in a sling, which apparently is fashionable.

Full disclosure, I am past the ‘sling’ phase and don’t use Motrin, so I neither care nor am I outraged like many (but not all) Twitter-moms. I was slightly amused by Motrin’s pathetic attempt at humor. I think the ad would have been much more relevant and powerful, if they had used real moms in the ad and made it less electronic and more human. Here’s a great example of an ad that would have been a disaster and extremely offensive if it hadn’t been for the celebrity spokesperson, who can glibly state that women are getting pregnant (even with complete strangers) just to get the new VW minivan.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDZSxFLcMVg&eurl=http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/f62/new-brooke-shields-vw-commercial-69092/]

I don’t recall any lynch mobs at the VW plant or at Brooke Shield’s home and that’s because the right spokesperson makes all the difference. Brooke Shields is one hot mama and it’s hard to get worked up over someone as likeable as her, but Motrin, comes off as the big, greedy corporation as this Twitterer points out, it’s just bad marketing.

motrin_comments1

 

 

I’ll say this about Motrin, if they were trying to score big time publicity in the social space through these ads, their wish has been granted. Jessica Gottlieb claims responsibility for starting this anti-Motrin-Twitter-mania. Whether or not this will have a significant impact on Motrin sales would depend on:

- How many of these Twitter-moms are actually Motrin users?
- How many are really outraged vs. jumping on the bandwagon?
- How many will actually stop using Motrin?
- Lastly, how many of Motrin’s target customer base is on Twitter? I mean is this representative of their customer base or just a small vocal minority.

After an entire day of Twitter-debate, the ad as of 6pm (PST) was still on the site, so either Motrin marketing team is clueless about what’s going on in the social space or thinks that this is much ado about nothing and/or all publicity is good.

This incident will probably make it into many marketing and social media case studies. It’s obvious that large companies need to do a better job on monitoring their brand and related chatter in the social space. That being said, the outrage created by Motrin (and others like it) will do for Twitter, what American Idol did for SMS/text messaging, ie. galvanize the user base. So while Motrin might be the loser, Twitter is definitely the winner.

DomainKeys – spammer's new BFF?

My pet peeve is Yahoo!’s ability (or lack thereof) to filter spam effectively because even legitimate emails using DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) are being routed to the spam folder while spam’s going to my Inbox. As if this wasn’t bad enough, even spammers have started using DKIM, thereby rendering this authentication method useless.

The way DKIM works is that it allows verification of the domain that an email originated from, so a spammer can’t use a fake email address. However, this system is seriously flawed as I realized recently because now even spammers use it. Here’s an example:

yahoo_dkim

Both Yahoo and Google use DKIM email authentication protocol to ensure legitimate emails are delivered but spam is blocked. But if this protocol is so easy to manipulate that even spammers have started using it,  then what’s the point of authentication?

Guide to social media for enterprises

In 1998, Carnegie Mellon university’s research predicted that heavy internet use was going to make us “socially isolated, lonely, and depressed”. What they didn’t account for is that (most) human beings are inherently social and have an innate desire to connect with others, be it offline or online. If anything, internet has shrunk the world and the ‘social’ (not to be confused with socialism) revolution has made us all more connected. Thanks to the genius that is marketing/branding, the social tools and underlying technologies like blogs, wikis, bookmarking sites, social networks, etc. have all collectively come to be known as web 2.0

Jargon aside, social media enables you to engage your customers in a much more meaningful and effective manner. Over the last decade, there has been a significant shift in online user behavior and companies that ignore this trend, do so at their own peril. However, there are plenty of enterprises who don’t want to be left behind and are enamored with the idea of social media/web 2.0, without giving much thought to why it’s important for their business.

For companies clamoring to get on the social media bandwagon just because of the hype, here is a must-read post by Greg Verdino at Crayon. Verdino questions whether marketers have truly optimized the existing marketing tools for engaging their users or are they just trying to latch on the ‘next big thing’?

Recently, Forrester recognizedIntuit’s efforts to embrace social media with an award. I think, Intuit‘s CMO Dan Maurer hit the nail on the head,

Customers turn to us to help solve their important problems,Maurer said. Were focused on giving them more ways to do that, whether its talking to us or providing forums where they can talk to each other. Being online for customers and for Intuit isnt just an option. Its a necessary component of success.

Bottomline, social media tools offer you a great new way to ‘touch’ your customers. That being said, businesses need to first understand user behavior and devise social media strategy around their user needs. The challenge for an enterprise is figuring out where to start in social media and if you are wondering how other companies are using social media marketing, here are a bunch of great posts from Mashable with real-life examples and how-tos:

- The 22 step Social Media Marketing plan: Peter Kim at Mashable gives you a framework of the varioius social tools  and links to companies using them.
- How To: Build Community on Twitter: This an extremely useful post by Sarah Evans on building a community on Twitter.
- 35+ Examples of Corporate Social Media in Action: This is an older post, that gives more detailed examples of how companies using social media tools.

However, in order for it to succeed, social media has to be part of your overall marketing mix and plan, it shouldn’t be treated as just another standalone program or project. It should be integrated into your overall marketing strategy, so you can exploit synergies with existing channels and avoid conflicting messages.

A great way to leverage social media is to use it to reinforce your existing marketing efforts and wherever possible, supplement those efforts by using it to reach segments where your company didn’t have a presence before. However, with the good, you also have to be ready for potential pitfalls of open social platforms like blogs, which can be hijacked by users to vent their frustration with your company. That’s where selecting the right medium and having clear, measurable objectives for your selected media becomes critical. 

Last but not the least, once you’ve selected the right social media tools/technology for your company, make sure you consistently track its performance like any other marketing channel to ensure that it continues to stay relevant to your users and consistent with your business goals, that’s the key to long-lasting success.