Business Social Media Ethics, Urban Outfitters

In the summer of 2011 a storm brewed in a little online community called Etsy. The controversy was caused by an independent artist being ripped off by the “hipster” corporation Urban Outfitters. Urban simply brushed the pissed off tweets off their feed and ignored the situation, possibly the worst thing you can do in a situation like this. The backlash was quick and widespread. The reason I even know about this is because it turned into a trending topic. But what does it take to do this? It all started off with a small gang of etsy users. Think of it this way, you see a great design a group of quilters are using and you decide to then market their idea to a national audience. The impending doom is that that little group of quilters has pitch forks and torches that are ready to go and they get basically all the quilters in the united states knocking on your door. How do you handle this? You definitely don’t take the road that Urban Outfitters did by taking the silent road.

Here’s how you do it (thanks to Andy Yerka for the directions
1. Recognize the problem 2. Take responsibility 3. Respond to the problem 4. Repair the damage 5. Repair your image

Urban should have acknowledged that they had stolen the design, tweeted out an apology and pay the damages. Instead the silent treatment pissed off any more people, they quietly removed the design from their page and allowed the torrent of negative tweets to fly.

In the end Urban survived but they probably lost quite a bit of their cult following.

Has Urban Outfitters change their ways and avoided any more bad PR. Nope. They’re back in the spot light after pissing off the entire Navajo nation.



I Don’t Need an App for That

Maybe its because I’m still on a Blackberry (start your heckling now) but I don’t get the App craze. I have self diagnosed A.D.D so if my attention isn’t with something in real life it is usually being consumed on Twitter or Facebook. A few months back I was challenged to delete Facebook off of my phone. My productivity SOARED, and I have since only gone back when it was required for work or for the HURD. I think that Apps are highly overrated and some research shows that they just might be. According to this article texting still reigns supreme when it comes to captivating an audience. In my opinion Apps are, for the most part, a novelty. Most people download an app because their friends suggest it and I would love to see the bounce/uninstall rate of some apps. Like seriously how often do I want to sing into my phone and sound like T-Pain? I think that the most effective Apps are the ones that can increase someones productivity. For example, the majority of work that I do is freelance and therefore is billed by the hour. Also, I need to track my mileage for tax purposes. This is an app that I would find useful and could be lucrative for a company to sell, not just a stupid time waster.

In terms of a business adding an app for customers I can only really see it being a productive tool for multi-level and direct sales companies. These companies could benefit from providing their consultants with sales tools that can be accessed from a smart device.

But for now we’ll just see more and more stupid applications hitting the market.



Search Engine Optimization

SEO or search engine optimization is usually a topic reserved for programmer geeks but for businesses it is becoming one of the most important aspects in laying the foundation for an online presence. Social media and pay per click have been commanding most of the online advertising dollars when its been proven that solid SEO generates far more leads.  Don’t get me wrong I think that we need to keep spreading our eggs to other baskets but the ROI for social media is hard to judge and can take quite some time to generate the relationship that can lead to a sale. But when it comes to someone finding a product online the first place they are headed is a search engine. Logic dictates to me thats where the focus needs to be. Granted, a good social media presence will help to keep your company on page 1 of google but it all plays into SEO.

Google has confirmed that it does use Twitter and Facebook links in their ranking system.

So dollars spent might not be in vain, but as is mentioned in the video, they are not basing it off a strictly numerical value but ranked on the quality of the link. So a link retweeted by a bot will not help you as much as a link retweeted by someone that will regularly distribute something that gets retweeted more often.

Bottom line. Companies need to focus on their SEO and the part that social media can play in that if they want to generate leads and eventually increase sales.


Collaborative and Distance Communication Tools

Communication tools are absolutely key to a business succeeding and should play an integral part in any social media plan. Two of the main tools I see helping in this are Skype and UStream.


Looking back in my life if you would have told me that I could video chat with someone from anywhere I would have laughed in your face and told you that it only happens in the Disney Channel Original Movie “Smart House”. In just 3 years the technology has come along where video conferencing has become a reality. This summer brought up a great example of how Skype and other great tools like this can be used. We had a company skype in to give us their social media plan. I loved the idea because we could get a company that is incredibly qualified but they could keep their prices low because they didn’t have the added travel costs. Skype is an amazing tool to connect people from any location. According to Skype 30 percent of its global user base uses the services for business.  This number will definitely rise as more business grasp the idea.


Using social media for business is about interaction and engaging your audience
and for that there is literally no better tool than UStream to do that. Ustream is a video streaming software that allows live chat via multiple streams, facebook, twitter, etc. I’ve seen a few companies that are using this for not only personal interaction but training as well. It allows for live interaction and a hands on instruction. When it comes to training people want to be able to ask questions. With a standard YouTube instructional video you don’t have this feedback. Using UStream if viewers have questions they can ask them and get a real response. Ustream also allows you to save the video to save as an archived training so you get the best of both worlds.

They are some great tools out there for doing work/training from anywhere that can be viewed at any time in any place. These tools need to play an integral part in any companies Social Media plan.


Outside The Box

I think we all get in these creative ruts where we know exactly how to accomplish a task with robotic precision and we never say “Hey, I bet I could do this a whole different way and accomplish something that no one has ever seen before.” I feel like I have been in one of those ruts and I think the only way to break out of it is to see what some amazingly creative people are doing. God bless the internet so access to these people is instantaneous. I was just watching some videos and came across this gem.

It made me think, how can I look at something I do on a regular basis differently and create something extraordinary out of it.


Much Love, JRB

Viral Videos

You cannot make a viral video. There I’ve thrown it out on the table. I’ve been making videos for close to ten years and this has been one of the biggest pet peeves of mine. “Hey we should make a viral video.” That’s impossible, you can only make a video that has a possibility of being considered viral. As of late businesses have been diving more and more into the realm of online video and one of their goals is to make a video go “Viral” but how do you do that?

First off, no one wants to be sold to so you have to avoid shoving your product out of a screen through the viewers eyes and down their throat cause lets be honest, that won’t sit very well. The companies that do the best job at this will take the raw idea of their business and use what they think their audience will like to make the video. In this article, ‘How do you make a viral video’ they make a great example of a pool business that used the idea of kids recreating the Bellagio fountains with squirt guns in their backyard pool.

Absolutely no product promotion but the video has been viewed over 500,000 times. Viral video is not about the product its about the presentation. Video producers should not have the “How many hits” mentality and more whats the ROI on each of the hits. Some of this videos are costing hundreds of thousands of dollars just to end up in the graveyard of video, the archive pages. Producers need to focus on the content and delivery more than the product.

Some advertising firms will dip into the current viral world and team up with video producers that already have a following. This might be a more expensive route, but you bring with it an almost guaranteed audience of like 800,000 subscribers. For instance one of the campaigns for Dentyne teamed up with internet video duo Rhett and Link to make a video. The spot featured the two in a rap battle and has been seen over 3 million times. Teaming up with a team like this can prove beneficial for clients, if they budget is such that it is possible.

Videos can prove to be a powerful tool in a marketing plan, but advertisers should never bank on the idea that just because they’ve made what they think is a ‘Viral’ video, the consumers are ultimately the ones who will decide the Roman way whether to let the video live or to let it die.

Location Based Marketing

Maybe its because I only live in a town of 48,000 or because I got sick of it too fast but I don’t see the power in location based marketing. Social networking tools such as foursquare and gowalla are taking hold in the location based social marketing world and I still can’t get in on it. I think I got into foursquare at the wrong time. About a year and a half ago I got foursquare because I thought that it was fun and I wanted to stay on the “cutting edge”. I lost interest after a few months because business hadn’t quite adopted using it for too many promotional purposes. I think now it can be a powerful tool, in bigger cities. I think providing people with information based on their location is a helpful tool, although I’m not a fan of having to utilize so many different applications.

I come from the ADD crowd but give me a break, I do not want 10 different apps that I have to update manually using my phone. Granted, I have a Blackberry Curve (kinda out dated for the times) that I avoid even browsing the internet on. Even so, if I had a smarter phone I would still avoid having to log in to multiple applications just for the sake of getting a good deal. I was ecstatic when facebook added places, but it has done little more for me than tell stalkers where I am at any given moment. So here’s my proposition, I know we are almost there but I want this soon(there’s the impatient generation coming through). Call it creepy or whatever but I am actually excited for the day when advertising looks more like the Minority Report.


We’re already having our emails and social networks scanned to target us for advertisements. But wouldn’t it be great if you’re phone could serve out the information to tell the advertiser what I am interested in? IBM is currently working on this awesome technology and I can’t wait to see it in place so that instead of me walking past a Kotex advertisement in the store for tampons, my phone could tell the sign that I am approaching my interests and maybe remind me to buy some more Gillete Fusion razor blades (my personal favorite that don’t rip my face). Going along these same lines if I am on my regular route around town and nearing one of my most frequent restaurants, wouldn’t it be great if an ad could be targeted to you specifically of maybe your favorite dish? “Hey Ryan we see you’re in the neighborhood come on in and get a Cinnamon Pull-A-Part Half Price at the Pie Pizzaria.” Creepy? I say AWESOME! If advertisers could waste less money on Bulk Targeting and targeting their specific niche that would be ideal.

So for those companies utilizing foursquare (I might readopt just so I am not left in the dust) make sure that you are targeting your core market and making  them come back for more. Offer incentives and follow these great tips.