Saturday, March 31, 2007

My Z List Experiment - Reaching Out to Ford, Pepsi and Verizon

I thought that I would provide everyone with an update about my Z-List Experiment. Unfortunately, I have not heard from Ford, Pepsi and Verizon thus far. However, I will make sure to provide frequent updates. I've identified myself as a customer of theirs and hopefully they are listening.

I have done a better job reaching out to consumers who are looking or already own Ford products. I post messages quite often at Additionally, I have done a pretty good job blogging about positive experiences with Pepsi. However, I would be interested in finding out if there are sites where I can discuss Pepsi and Verizon (i.e. brand image or products) with other consumers. Please feel free to leave a comment if you can point me in the right direction here.

2008 Presidential Social Media Study

I know it seems a little funny to be reading election coverage on a marketing blog. However, I feel that similar principles apply to promoting candidate elected as to marketing a product or brand. You are looking to get the word out in both instances. Additionally, you want to persuade consumers/voters to choose a particular candidate, product or brand.

I find the topic of Consumer Generated Media (CGM) to be fascinating. I see the impact that social media has on brands and products. I believe it will have the same impact on voters' perceptions of candidates in the 2008 presidential election.

Therefore, I plan to begin track buzz levels throughout the primary elections. I will post findings frequently and see if I can predict who will the majority vote for each party before going on to seek the presidency. Make sure to read and stay tuned.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Prominent People are Featured in the Blogosphere; Are You One of Them?

I came across a pretty cool tool at BlogPulse
that lets you see which people or celebrities are being talked about most in the blogosphere. The first column shows which people have been talked about most consistently over time while the second column shows who is talked about the most on a particular day. Overall, President Bush and Harry Potter garner a lot of discussion. Hillary Clinton and John McCain receive the most discussion among 2008 presidential candidates. Every now and then, certain people will bubble up to the top of the lists depending on what is going on in the world. For instance, Kathy Sierra has been talked about a lot over the past week since receiving death threats. Interestingly, Harry Potter is actually talked about more than President Bush on some days.

A tool like this may be useful for companies are presidential hopefuls alike. For example, the director of a television show could see if there is any buzz about a particular actor/actress or character. Also, a marketer or public relations spokesperson for a company can use this type of analysis to see if consumers are talking about any of its top level executives. Furthermore, presidential candidates may want to follow discussion patterns to see who has the most buzz.

Some of the tools such at BlogPulse make it easy for people to see which celebrities or people are being talked about the most in the blogosphere. So the next question to find out is whether one of them is YOU!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blogs Affect Your Brand; Finding Social Media is Easier Than Ever Before

Have you ever went to Google and typed in the name of a company or product? Sure you have. However, you may have not noticed the amount of Consumer Generated Media (CGM) that appears. CGM can show up in the form of blogs, discussion boards, Usenet groups, podcasts and video content among others. Marketers frequently sift through consumer discussion to find out what is being talked about.

A company may want some discussion about them and/or their products to be easily found by other consumers, especially if its positive. In contrast, a company may want to mitigate damage from negative buzz (i.e. vehicle recall). A company's ability to optimize search engine results is becoming more important everyday. The things that consumers write can affect a brands image. Furthermore, consumers can find social media very easily. All they need to do is go to Google, Yahoo or a blog search tools such as BlogPulse and type in the name of a company or product.

Some companies do a great job of optimizing search engine results. For example, rarely does CGM show up on the first two pages of search results when you type in "Sony". However, several CGM sources appear on the first page of Google search results for the phrases "Ford Focus" and "World MasterCard".

I was able to find CGM very easily typing in the phrase "Ford Focus". In fact, I came across a Ford Focus enthusiast site, on the first page on Google. I am a member of for the record. In fact, you can find me posting messages under the alias of MisterDork. Please don't ask me how I got that name. My wife gave it to me :o).

I had to dig a little deeper when looking at "World MasterCard". I had to go to the second page of Google search results. However, I am fairly certain I can find CGM about any company by simply going a few pages deeper on any search.

The fact that social media sites can be found easily shows the growing importance for marketers to follow what is said about the company they work for. In fact, every company should have someone whose job is to go to Google or Yahoo and type the name of their company followed by the word "sucks".

Obama on Iraq

Here is another clip that I found on Youtube. It was posted on January 14, 2007 and has 123,434 views and 306 comments. It is not as viral as the Hillary 1984 Spoof, but still illustrates my point that social media will play a huge role in the next presidential election.

This video features an exerpt with Barack Obama speaking in Face The Nation. There is voter commentary before and after the video. Personally, I think we will continue to see spoof videos like this be posted on the internet featuring political candidates. I'll make sure to keep looking for new examples of social media in the 2008 presidential election.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Presidential Candidates Have MySpace Profiles

I've been doing some additional research to support my argument that social media will play a pivotal role in the 2008 presidential elections. In doing so, I found out that leading presidential candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain have MySpace profiles. I find this to be very intriguing.

I'm very much aware that the candidates are trying to capture the minority vote. However, campaigning on MySpace tells me they feel reaching out to the youth of America is just as important.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

My Z List Experiment - Will Ford, Pepsi or Verizon Contact Me?

I'm really liking this Z List experiment that my buddy Kevin Green is doing over at Socially Adept. I encourage everyone to go read up on it at his blog. He is trying to see how long it will take corporate companies such as Coke, Under Armour and Volvo to reach out to him. He has specifically mentioned that he uses their products and wants to see if they have any interest in contacting him. I really like Kevin's "go get it" attitude when comes to interacting with businesses. I will be eager to see if Coke, Under Armour or Volvo contact him, despite identifying himself as a ZZ blogger.

I understand how Kevin feels in regards to being a ZZ blogger since I only get several hundred views a month on my blog. I track my blog viewership using Google Analytics. Some of my goals including increasing viewership and links to my blog. I have time and patience on my side. However, I am interested seeing how long it will take companies to contact me. Kevin is targeting Coke, Under Armour and Volvo; I am looking at Ford, Pepsi and Verizon Wireless.

I want to see if Ford is interested in what I have to say. I've never owned an import. I've always been a huge fan of Ford. The first car I ever owned was a 1984 Merkur XR4Ti. I will admit that it had some problems. It wasn't the best car for me to buy right after high school. I found it to be rather expensive to maintain and I only worked part-time while going to college. Needless to say, I only had my Merkur for seven months before trading it in for a 1996 Ranger. I loved the Merkur; I hope to get another one in the future when I am in a better financial situation.

I feel that I am doing my part to keep Ford in business. I currently own a 2006 Ford Explorer 4X4 and a 2007 ZX4 Ford Focus. Additionally, I co-signed on my sister-in-law's 2002 Ford Taurus. My wife and I always encourage our friends and family members to look at Ford vehicles. I'm not saying that I've never considered GM or import vehicles, but I like what Ford has to offer. I owned a 2001 Z24 Chevy Cavalier for several years. The car ran wonderfully. However, I traded it in for the Explorer in June 2006. Overall, I feel Ford and GM have done a wonderful job narrowing the gap in terms of quality with imports. Additionally, I like the fact they offer the 100,000 mile warranty.

I did not want to get the Focus initially. I rented them from a local car rental dealership in the past, but wasn't impressed. However, I've really grown to like my current 2007 Focus since I've been driving it on a daily basis. It has a sportier look and feel then I originally thought. I signed up for an account at Focus Fanatics and participate in consumer discussion frequently. You can find my messages under the alias of MisterDork.

Some other companies that I would like to see contact me are Pepsi and Verizon Wireless. I want to know how long it will take them to contact me. I've already blogged about a positive experience that I had with Pepsi. I haven't blogged that much about Verizon, but I do prefer them over Sprint. My calls do not cut out as much. Also, I like the fact that I can speak with someone who understands the English language. My wife and I have encouraged several of our friends to go with Verizon instead of Sprint.

I have made myself known to Ford, Pepsi and Verizon Wireless. Will they make an attempt to contact me? I'm one of their biggest supporters. I own multiple Ford vehicles and frequently encourage others to look into driving a Ford versus its competition. I blog about Ford online with other Ford enthusiasts and owners. Additionally, I drink Pepsi and prefer Verizon over Sprint. Hopefully, I will be contacted in future. Kevin doesn't feel he will be contacted anytime soon. Likewise, I don't think I will be reached in the near future. There are over 55 million blogs. Therefore, it may take Ford, Pepsi and Verizon a while to find me but I will be waiting.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Social Media in the 2008 Presidential Election

Social media will play a huge part in the 2008 Presidential election. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama include components of Consumer Generated Media (CGM) on their websites. They allow voters to view video content, create blogs and get involved.

I think it will be interesting to see how the political candidates continue to use social media in their campaign strategy. It will be very easy for a candidate to release viral videos full of mudslinging material. Political candidates will need to proceed with caution. They will need to be able to identify when they can use social media in their arsenal to attack the views of another candidate. They will also need to mitigate negative CGM and social media directed toward.

Personally, I think the upcoming presidential campaign will test candidates' abilities to deal with social media and CGM. It will be a clear indicator of which of them is the strongest. The frontrunner will be the candidate who is able to use social media in their favor the most. However, presidential candidates will need to keep a close watch. They cannot only be concerned about what their opponents are saying about them. Candidates in the 2008 presidential election must know what voters are saying about them. Presidential candidates can rest assured that voters will post and talk about all the issues their opponents may forget to bring up. It will be interesting to see how the candidates cope with negative discussion about them in the blogosphere. Will they try to reach out and connect with voters or leave it be?

I have provided an excellent example showing the impact that CGM and social media will have in the upcoming presidential elections. One person posted a spoof of the popular 1984 Macintosh commercial. The spoof primarily focuses on Hillary Clinton encouraging everyone to participate in the "solution" (i.e. solutions of todays' problems such as the War in Iraq). The spoof includes a clip of Hillary Clinton telling everyone that they are all part of the "discussion" and all part of the "team". The video posted on YouTube March 5, 2007. It already has more than 2,684,452 views along with 5,853 comments. Viewer comments about this video at YouTube frequently reference concerns with the war in Iraq.

The trend graph below calls out several key events leading to spikes in discussion for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Monday, March 19, 2007

This Is Why Duke Sucks

Consumers have the ability to make videos about a company or brand very quickly and post them on the internet. Furthermore, consumers can find and pass along this content to others very quickly and easily.

Here is an extremely viral video that I found on YouTube. I must warn those who wish to view it that there is a lot of profanity. However, I think this video really highlights the importance for any company (profit or non-profit), government agency, politician or university to keep tabs on consumer generated media. Video content is more powerful than regular word of mouth since it includes a visual component. This particular video has over 327,000 views and 718 comments. Interestingly, it was just posted at YouTube on March 14, 2007.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Where Can I Find a Sponsor?

I have recently set a personal goal to run in a marathon within the next year or two. I currently have a gym pass. I run on the treadmill quite often. However, I still have a ways to go. I plan to begin a vigorous training program soon. I will be running at least a mile a day and more on the weekends when I'm off work. Also, I plan to participate in and finish a 5k and 10k race before running a complete marathon. I feel running in a marathon will be a great personal achievement.

I'm interested in trying to find a company to sponsor me in my quest to complete a marathon. I feel this is possible. I notice a lot of people riding bicycles who wear sponsored gear. Therefore, I feel there is a similar market for companies looking to reach out to active runners.

I want to find out if there are any people who have had success in getting companies to sponsor them. Feel free to leave a response.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pepsi Offers Good Customer Service

My wife and I prefer Pepsi over Coke in most instances. We typically find ourselves buying several twelve packs of Pepsi while grocery shopping. Additonally, most of the local entertainment venues we visit (i.e. local theatres and Cincinnati Reds) serve Pepsi.

My wife recently purchased a can of Pepsi from a machine at her job, but it was flat. She immediately called Pepsi's customer service and they responded to the complaint by promptly sending her a coupon for a complimentary twelve pack of Pepsi. I feel the Pepsi-Cola Company did a great job handling thiz situation. Its quick and direct response made my wife feel valued as a customer.

I am a huge proponent of a company using marketing to promote its brands and their products. Effective marketing can be used to position a brand or product effectively in the minds of consumers. Marketing is important for a company to succeed, but providing outstanding customer service is more important. Marketing attracts new customers, but does not help retain current customers. I feel the Pepsi-Cola Company did a great job in this instance. My wife and I will continue to enjoy Pepsi products.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Girl Gamers On The Rise

I came across a post at Adage about girl gamers being on the rise. The posting referenced the fact that two-thirds of all guys aged 18 to 34 have access to a video-game console in their home and three out of four boys aged 2 to 11 played on a video-game console for at least a minute during fourth quarter. But so did half of all teenage girls, according to the latest figures from Nielsen's "State of the Console" report.

The author of the article, Abbey Klaassen, states that the popularity of video game consoles among the female segment is due to its capability of being a multi-media entertainment hub. Many video game fanatics use their consoles to watch movies and play music, in addition to playing video games. The article also references research results which show an increase in T.V. and game play. Overall, T.V. viewership peaks around 9 P.M. while game play peaks around 10 P.M.

The rise in the popularity of gaming systems may be due to their ability to be an entertainment hub. "Seeing the amount of reach gaming has in teenage girls and women 18-34 is pretty impressive," said Nick Covey, marketing analytics and development manager at Nielsen Gameplay Metrics. "Part of that might represent the increasingly multimedia use [of the gaming console]." As a sign the gaming console is beginning to be seen as more of an entertainment hub, the report said more than half of console owners consider their DVD-equipped gaming system to be a DVD player.

Gaming consoles have seemingly followed a similar path to that of cell phones. Cell phone providers have been coming out with newer versions incorporating features to play music, games, videos, T.V. shows and access the internet over the past few years. Likewise, video game consoles in the future may be required to provide capabilities allow consumers to connect to the internet, download music and videos, and communicate with other consumers. Consoles such as Xbox and Playstation currently allow gamers to play online. However, they do not allow gamers to fully interact online.

The following graph shows discussion trends for video game consoles. The Nintendo Wii has been receiving the most buzz as of recently.