Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category

“Give Me that Old-Time (Marketing) Religion:” The Importance of Focus and Commitment when Using Social Media

By Jim Lyons, Professor at the University of Phoenix

Lately, I’ve been working on a LinkedIn project assigned to me by our local campus of the University of Phoenix. And in taking it on, I’ve repeatedly been reminded of the “marketing basics” which I profess, literally, at the very same institution. I’m finding that with social media projects, like any other marketing-related activity, time-honored practices—such as focusing on a well-defined marketing strategy with clear objectives, clearly identifying a target market, and committing to a plan over a reasonable time period—are as relevant as ever.

By way of a little background, the local campus staff had asked me to shore up the LinkedIn group we’d started a couple of years back, and which like so many other social media attempts had gone somewhat stagnant after a fast start. This interest fit nicely with my personal ambition to help give our faculty a better feeling of connectedness—getting to know each other better as both undergrad- and graduate-level instructors (all part-timers), as well as members of the much broader professional community where we each pursue our very diverse “day jobs.” My vision was to make the LinkedIn group a virtual “faculty office building,” where we could get to know each other and collaborate in the virtual world, something that the University of Phoenix knows very well, at least from an online education standpoint.

There, too, was an interest within the client organization of making the group a discussion forum to be joined by at least the more engaged students, as well as alums and even “friends” of the university, including local business and community leaders. Also, it could perhaps become somewhat of a job-seekers forum as well. It didn’t stop there, either, and with this growing set of objectives, I started to feel overwhelmed.


As I began to think about implementation, I went back to good, sound marketing fundamentals. And when it came to defining the product/service I was enhancing, I had to ask myself a key question: “Who is the target market?” Obviously, the answer to the question had quickly become “many groups.” The next question then became: “Can I successfully serve this many masters?” (The answer to this question is invariably on the negative side of the scale, at least when put to the reality test.)

We are still working on the right approach, but as time goes on, the objective of providing a fun and friendly faculty familiarity/recognition platform seems to be winning out. We may need to launch a new group or sub-group to target another set of objectives/markets, but when has this stopped a good marketer?


As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Starting a new business, launching a new product, or kicking off an advertising/PR campaign takes time, too. We have all been there—we get impatient, pull the plug too soon, or get wooed by a newer idea. And in the world of social networking—just like face-to-face, old-fashioned networking—patience is everything.

I’m reminded of my attempt to help a former colleague get his footing after a long period of unemployment by having him as my guest at a meeting of our local entrepreneurs’ networking group. After that first meeting, he thanked me, concluding with something like, “Well, we’ve done that. Let’s see what happens,” (as if based on his six or eight brief introductory conversations, the job offers would start rolling in). Sorry, friend, but networking is a long-term investment, and even in this world, which we often perceive to be all about instant gratification, a commitment to a plan—and sticking to it—is as critical as ever.

Knowing your customer, not trying to do too much, having clear objectives, and exercising patience—just a little of that old-time (marketing) religion!

Four Steps to Inspire Infectious Action

By Andy Smith, Co-Author of The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change

When you grab people’s attention, they sit up and listen. When you engage your audience, you connect with them and inspire them. However, too many efforts stop there, leaving people with good intentions that may never be acted on. Taking action requires individuals to exert themselves and to make the transition beyond being interested by what you have to say to actually doing something about it. When organizations combine the power of the call to action with innovative social media tools, they can achieve extraordinary results.

Consider these four design principles when you want to empower others to take action:

1. Make it easy. By demonstrating you value your audience’s time and by making use of their contributions, you simultaneously boost their effectiveness while giving them a greater sense of accomplishment. This increases the likelihood they will continue to participate. Helping people achieve small goals leads them naturally to adopt more ambitious behaviors, often without a bigger intervention. For example, if the big goal is to convince people to be more environmentally friendly, ask them to change a single light bulb in their homes. Let them breathe, basking in their success, and then intervene again, expanding the effort by making the target behavior something larger. Perhaps you might suggest they replace all the inefficient bulbs in their homes.

2. Make it fun. The fueling effect of fun is an important and often overlooked element of social movements. It will also make your endeavor more enjoyable for you and a whole lot stickier for your audience. Many charities organize runs, walks, or bike races to encourage people to donate time and money. Another way to harness fun is game play; it taps into our innate competitiveness and desire for recognition. Groupon infuses fun in every one of its communications—the company hired Chicago-area comedians as its copywriters.

3. Tailor the experience. To motivate people to act on behalf of your cause, you need to match their skills, talents, or interests with your needs. Whether being creative, as with Gap’s “Born to Fit” initiative (where customers can design new outfits), providing an endorsement or reference, or making a physical donation (such as when people with a needed blood type make a donation), the more that people feel they have uniquely contributed, the happier and more satisfied they will be—and the more likely they are to spread the word or return to contribute.

4. Be open. A critical step to creating a culture of sharing is to design with the principle of sustained transparency. Most companies believe they are far more transparent than consumers think they are. A second step is to ideate, prototype, and test frequently. By doing this, you will—by definition—be designing for feedback. Showing people they are actually making a difference is arguably the most critical aspect of encouraging action. A good example is, a non-profit that allows people to help fulfill public classroom “wish lists.” Donors can watch incremental donations to their causes grow in real time. When each project is fully funded, all donors are e-mailed photos, a thank you letter from the teacher, and a cost report.