Five Things You Can Learn About Social Media From ‘Jersey Shore.’

Shared links have a longer shelf life on Facebook than Twitter, and Buzzfeed sends more traffic through re-shares than direct clicks. Those are two key learnings from the launch of a stealth social-media experiment caalled “Jersify Yourself” It is a site created to help gauge the power of spreadable content
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Jerzify Yourself was created in January of this year, a week after the season one finale of the popular MTV show “Jersey Shore” that attracted an audience of 4.8 million. The site, written in a few days in Flash, allows users to upload their headshot onto a stylized body and morph themselves into a Jersey Shore “Guido” or “Guidette.” Or as New York’s Village Voice put it: “The gist is Snooki-grade simple: upload a medium-size jpg, scale the image to fit, choose your spray-tan shade, pick your pose — and holy Freckles McGee, you’re magically recast as a human meatball.”

Why did they do this? To evaluate the power of social media and spreadable content. As an experiment, Jerzify Yourself was highly successful in adding the much needed texture to the knowledge of how content gets passed along online. One obvious caveat here is that the observations below are based on a single experiment, so please treat them as such and not as some kind of immutable laws.
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Here are five social-media learnings:

1. The Invisible Impact.

If you find yourself measuring the value of referral sources for your campaign, consider their total impact via re-shares in addition to the direct traffic they send your way. Counting only the direct clicks from any site is likely to underestimate the site’s total value; five out of six sites on our top referrers list sent almost as much traffic through re-shares as through direct clicks. It would make for an interesting follow-up experiment to see if this difference holds up for paid campaigns as well as for “organic” content. If it does, and this difference is measured, it would have important implications on how we plan media buys.

2. If It Doesn’t Spread, It’s Half-dead.

Dr. Henry Jenkins once made this now-famous remark about the destiny of content in the age of social media: “if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.” Having looked at the data, we can now say with a degree of confidence that you’ll still get viewers if your link gets picked up by major online publications, but content that’s designed to be spreadable can nearly double the referred traffic through re-shares.

3. Some Sites Are Read By More Active Spreaders Than Others.

Some sites on the top ten list turned out to be a lot more spreadful (for lack of a better word) than others. Buzzfeed, in particular, sent more traffic — twice as much! — via re-shares than through direct clicks. In fact, the number one direct referrer, collegehumor.com, will come last if we re-rank the sites by “boost.” These observations along with our understanding of the reasons behind the differences will influence the way we design online properties meant to encourage content sharing.

It would also be interesting to see if there is a difference in the length of pass-along chains between different sites. On average, the link traveled down two or three generations of users before the chain broke, and chains as long as seven users could be seen.

4. The Speed of Content Depends on the Medium Through Which It Travels.

You know how the speed of sound depends on the medium through which it passes? It’s like that with Twitter and Facebook, and probably other social networks. To repeat an observation made earlier: in our experiment, shared links had a much longer gestation period but also a longer shelf life on Facebook than on Twitter.

For the entire January-May period, Facebook has referred 12,789 visitors, 83% of them after the first week. Twitter has referred 10,549 visitors altogether, 97% of them during the first week. This difference probably has to do with how people access the news feeds on these sites.

On Twitter, the single stream of news quickly washes away older items. On Facebook, older news can still be the front-page material on the individual slower-moving walls. If you find yourself choosing between the two sites for your next campaign, be aware of this difference.

5. Don’t Reach For the Off Switch.

As the 404 errors on formerly popular viral branded destinations demonstrate, it might be tempting to kill the destination site some time after the traffic has peaked. Experts argue that abandoning old micro-sites in their Long Tail phase means leaving money on the table, and the experiment has demonstrated that not only do off-peak sites attract healthy traffic, these visitors can also be more valuable than the rush-hour crowd.

TV Remains the Screen of Choice

Americans may choose to consume video on the “best screen available,” yet traditional TV remains the screen of choice. The recent results of Nielsen’s Three Screen Report a quarterly analysis from Nielsen’s Anywhere Anytime Media
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The measurement initiative (A2/M2) shows that the average American watches approximately 153 hours of TV every month at home, a 1.2% increase from last year. In addition, the 131 million Americans who watch video on the Internet watch on average about 3 hours of video online each month at home and work. The 13.4 million Americans who watch video on mobile phones watch on average about 3 ½ hours of mobile video each month.

In addition, Nielsen data shows that consumers’ time with TV, Internet and Mobile video continues to increase across the board. Online video grew 13% in Q1 2009, driven by both strong brand marketing and large media events including the Presidential inauguration, the Super Bowl and March Madness. With broadband levels increasing in the U.S., online video audiences will continue to grow as consumers begin to upgrade their PCs to support increased video consumption.

Mobile video viewing has grown a significant 52% from the previous year, up to 13.4 million Americans. Much of this growth continues to come from increased mobile content and the rise of the mobile web as a viewing option.

Out of all different age groups, 18-24 year olds show signs of watching DVR and online video the same amount of time timeshifting 5 hrs, 47 minutes per month, and watching video online 5 hrs, 3 minutes each month.

Perhaps the merging of web and TV will begin to drive the growth of true interactive TV with Google leading the way.

The Real Thing? Mexican Coca-Cola.

After the New Coke debacle did Coca-Cola bring back the original formula when they introduced Classic? In a word, no.

Classic Coke is sweetened with HCFS, before New Coke the original formula used good old cane sugar.

In the 1980s, most major soda producers (and many food manufacturers) switched from using sugar as a sweetener to using high fructose corn syrup because it was both sweeter and cheaper than sugar. Due to the rising price of corn syrup, as well as increased consumer demand – primarily in the name of health – for sugar sweetened drinks, some manufacturers are considering a switch back to sugar. Others, like Jones Soda, have already done so.

As consumers, we don’t always have a choice when price is an issue, but let’s assume for a moment that all of our favorite drinks switch to sugar. Is this a good thing? If you have ever gone out to pick up extra packs of (kosher) Coke during Passover, when the sugar-sweetened version is put in stores, your answer is probably yes. But if you don’t like the taste of the version made with sugar, the possibility of a switch is less appealing.

Why am I just thinking about this now? Around this time of year in America, Coke puts out a special version of its flagship beverage that ostensibly is geared toward the Jewish population as its celebrates Passover. You’d be lucky to find any of it, though. It’s selling out everywhere it appears on supermarket shelves.yellowcoke
It’s not just the Jewish popualtion who love it, because Kosher Coke could actually be better called Real Sugar Coke. The standard American Coke is made with that dietary bugaboo high fructose corn syrup, but because the Jewish commandment is not to eat foods with leavening in them, corn’s out. So for observant customers, Coke (and Pepsi) makes special batches using real sugar. The taste difference is noticeable right away. It’s far better, like the Coke of your childhood.
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Because it is the Coke from your childhood. Coke phased out real sugar in the mid-’80s in favor of that industrial-grade, cheap sweeter that clutters our palettes in nearly everything we eat. A major reason New Coke failed is because it was around that time that Coke decided to switch out cane sugar for that processed glob HFCS; part of the disgust Americans felt for the new stuff was due to the fact we had been used to proper sugar before that.

Most times of year, those Coke fans in the know can obtain Coke made with real sugar by getting their hands on bottles made in Mexico. This so-called Mexican Coke is highly prized, and charged at a premium at gourmet stores and Latin grocery importers. In fact, many countries make “real” Coke, and it’s one of the unexpected pleasures of international travel that you can actually taste Coke as Coke was invented to be.
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Lots of other countries sell “the real thing,” too, including the United Kingdom — it’s just one more way that traveling Americans don’t realize they’re getting the shaft when it comes to food and infrastructure — but since Mexico is nearer, it’s easiest and cheapest for American consumers to get their hands on that.
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If this “healthier” Coke is such a big hit, and it’s clearly turning consumers on, then why doesn’t Coke just make it year-round? The simple answer is that HFCS is cheap. Last year, the Wall Street Journal predicted that higher corn prices would force the soda makers back to sugar, but so far, that hasn’t happened in the standard products, although Snapple recently announced that HFCS would get the heave-ho in a product makeover.

Instead, the soda makers are being tricky, and bringing sugar back mostly to products it charges more for. Pepsi and Mountain Dew have noticed the thirst for beverages that aren’t made with HFCS, and in response, this month it’s coming out with its line of sugar-based Throwback drinks. But like Kosher Coke, they are not promised to stay on shelves forever.

I don’t like HCFS, one of the least inventive and blandest ingredients on the menu, and it’s gotten to the point where I’m insulted when manufacturers think this low-grade sweetener is good for you. (The junk is in nearly every loaf of bread at the grocery store, and even in Newman’s Own lemonade, which you’d think would be more natural.) I don’t know about you, but I’d be willing to pay another nickel for my bottle of Coke if it meant it could be sweetened with real sugar. Either that, or I could convert or move to Mexico.

Your Online Rep Could Hurt Your Job Opportunities

As millions seek new jobs to replace positions lost in the recession, keep in mind that the Internet gives employers unprecedented access to information about you.

Employers aren’t content with facts gleaned from public records. They’re also using the Internet to assess your character. That means they’re searching your name on Google.

They’re visiting social-networking sites and reading blog posts. Unflattering comments and photos can put you out of the running for a job. So, you will want to clean up your online reputation before job hunting.

Search for yourself
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Your first step is to assess your online reputation. Start by doing a Google search of your name and its variations.
Do other searches that include your profession, previous employers and locations. You may be surprised what turns up.

You should also search networking sites. Pipl, Wink and PeekYou will allow you to search multiple sites quickly.

You will want to make two lists from your searches. On one list, place links to sites with unflattering information. On the other list, place links to flattering information.

Remove the negative

Maybe you posted some of the unflattering images or comments. In that case, remove them immediately. Err on the side of caution and remove anything that is potentially offensive.

Next, contact the owners of sites that cast you in a negative light. Send a polite e-mail message requesting that negative information be removed.

State your case clearly. If a post is erroneous, provide proof of its inaccuracy. It doesn’t hurt to mention that you’re job searching.

Things are more complicated with unflattering photos and truthful information. You will need to appeal to the writer’s sense of decency. Keep your requests pleasant and polite, and you may be successful.
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Promote the positive

Some sites will honor your requests. Other sites may not. So, you may need to mitigate negative posts with positive ones.

I recommend that you start a blog highlighting your professional skills. Write posts on your field to show off your professional knowledge. List your full name at the bottom of your posts. Include links to the positive comments you found. And be sure to list your accomplishments in your bio.

These postings should push the negative postings from Google’s top search results. You can also use your blog to speak indirectly to potential employers.

For example, say you share a name with a porn star. You don’t want potential employers to confuse the two of you. So, create a post listing people who share your name. It’s a good way to eliminate confusion.

Don’t forget networking sites
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Hey we are all on Xanga…use it to help your reputation. Networking sites like Facebook and MySpace are the biggest threat to your job search. Clean up any networking profiles you have.

If you don’t have networking profiles, create them. Then link to them on your blog. Employers will be able to find your profiles easily. Make sure these profiles are squeaky clean.

Why create the profiles? They can eliminate confusion. An employer won’t confuse you with that other Mary Johnson with a raunchy profile.

Create a profile on LinkedIn. Use it to showcase your professional accomplishments. You can also network with others who can help with your job search.

Are You Too Old To Twitter?

Never. Twitter has come of age and is even being used to report news.

There are so many great new ways people are using twitter and twemes today. Building on earlier data about flash online communities, people are now organizing groups, not just for quick events, but for causes and things they firmly believe in.

Freetibet is a great example of people determined and passionate about a cause using the power of twitter and twemes to get their message out.

Another example is the tweme #quotable.
Have a favorite quote? Use the tag #quotable and share it. Or place the quotable widget on your site.

This was a great way to inspire others and recognize those nuggets of wisdom or moments of genius.
On those days when things just don’t seem to be going well, it’s a nice to review the tweme and pick out some inspiring quotes.

Mother’s Day there is the tweme #mom to recognize the funny and precious tales of mothers.
There is even a tweme called “I’m the Mom Who” or “I’m the Mom Whose”

While there may be a few guilty confessions in there, the goal is to gather funny sayings from your kids
throughout the day, or recount funny scenarios, not to pour your guts out or tattle on anyone (including yourself!) in 140 characters or less.

Here is an example:
I’m the #mom who has the 4-year-old son who wants to buy his preschool teacher a gift certificate “For Zales, for diamonds!”, for the holidays.

I think that all of these new uses encourage groups and tribes to think about ways you can organize, recognize and inspire others!

Social media tools are quite powerful and small ideas can blaze through the networks and have incredible impact!
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Marketing in 2009, Don’t Panic.

Don’t panic.
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The earth will keep spinning on its axis and marketers of all stripes will need to communicate and persuade customers and prospects. Focus on the basic issues in your business. Invest extra time and energy to find new ways to conceive, craft and transmit messages that better differentiate and more clearly communicate the value and the urgency of your brand.

Don’t Get Distracted.

The economy is in a free fall. Most of us hope Obama knows more than we do. We pray that he and all those new appointees have a really good plan. He might.

But whatever he’s got up his sleeve won’t make things better on January 22nd. So focus on the stuff you can affect yourselves. Ignore things you have no control over. We all have to assume the notion that most things are out of our control so we have to use our time and energy wisely to impact the handful of things we actually can exert control over; mostly ourselves. Take a short-term focus. Cover each month’s bills. Take one step forward after the next. Try to ignore the daily doomsday screeching and then endless warnings that the sky is falling down.

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.

Great relationships are forged in adversity. Now is the time to stick close to your clients and your people. Mine and harness the energy, the goodwill, the advocacy, the insights and the ideas that often go unexploited during the normal course of business. Invest in each other. Hold up your value proposition to a 360 SWOT analysis. Find new and better ways to reach out your customers.

Don’t Ignore Your Network.

Social networking demonstrates that we are linked together. We are navigating this crisis together. So leverage your connections. Reach out to others. Ask questions, share ideas and share resources. The whole is stronger than the sum of the parts, so leverage the whole. Remember that the value of a network expands exponentially with use. An unused network degrades rapidly.

Don’t Bring Coupons to a Party.

Social media is evolving, emerging and morphing everyday. You wouldn’t come to a party at my house and pass out coupons. We’d think you were rude and gross. Facebook, MySpace and others are the digital online equivalents of that party. Understand the media and enter cautiously recognizing that the brand is NOT in control, consumers are. Take your cues from them and respect their sensibilities.

Don’t Stop Experimenting.

We are in the “wild west” phase of social, mobile and online video media. There are no ideas that are too crazy especially since our technologists are inventing, extending and mashing up new things daily. The recession makes these platforms and the creative content to fuel them affordable and measurable. So get below your competitor’s radar and play around with images, messages and media. Who knows maybe your “wild” idea will become the new “best practices”?

Don’t Ignore Mobile Media.
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The new generation of Blackberries and the iPhone are important steps on the evolutionary path toward a single multi-purpose device that combines, integrates, synchronizes and aggregates computers, the Internet, telephony, credit and debit cards, digital photography, and who knows what could be next. And while it might take a few years for the number of daily users to reach hundreds of millions, this phenomenon will be upon us before you know what hit you. That means NOW is the time to get familiar with mobile media. Begin thinking about the idea of constant access to the Net and constant consumer motion and communication. This development will forever change they way we stimulate brand awareness, preference and purchase and change shopping expectations and behavior in ways we can’t yet predict..

Don’t Write Off Direct Marketing.

When marketing money gets tight, bean counters rule. Direct marketing continues to enjoy great public acceptance, strong ROI, measurability and an under-exposed degree of creativity and inventiveness. Direct mail, DRTV, telemarketing and other DM tactics are proven result-getters which can be pulsed or turned off, and on at will. Expect smart marketers to default to direct marketing and look for smart DM players to do well in hard times.

Don’t Forget to Measure What Matters.

Most marketing is assessed two ways. We measure effectiveness in returning profitable business results and we count efficiency in terms of the value received compared to the cost, usually expressed in some form of ROI calculation. There are millions of other distracting and partially relevant things to count, sort and calculate. But in a recession focus on two simple questions; “How much profitable new business did this drive?” and “Was it worth it?”

Don’t Abandon Customer Satisfaction.

Acquiring new customers costs a multiple of delighting and retaining existing ones. In tough times you need the efficiency of happy customers referring their friends. Focus on customer service. Talk to customers. Listen to them too. Solicit their ideas and feedback. Institute loyalty and reward programs. Do whatever you can to encourage them to buy more. Emphasize customer service and include the voice of your customer in your product and marketing plans.