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Mashable Will Bring the Internet to Life at SXSWi 2014
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It's that time of year againSouth by Southwest is just around the corner and Mashable is gearing up for our biggest presence yet by bringing the Internet to life.

You may think you know what we have in store, if you remember last year meeting Grumpy Cat at Mashable House, or celebrating with us at the epic MashBash. This year, Mashable House will be even larger and filled with exciting activities that bring the best of the online world offline. From inspiring content sessions to selfie-worthy moments, we promise some of the most memorable experiences at SXSWi

The space we're transforming into Mashable House, a hub of Internet culture, is just a few blocks from the Austin Convention Center. MashBash will be held at The Ranch on March 9, and will have an open bar, a killer music performance and special guests who will be announced soon. Read more...

More about Mashbash, Sxsw, Sxswi, Mashbash Sxswi, and Mashable House

July 25 2012

Nick Offerman Film Promo Goes ‘Highly’ Viral [VIDEO]




Actors Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Alison Brie are getting highly viral in a new video promoting the film Somebody Up There Likes Me.

The video is grabbing attention on Reddit, where fans are so stoked to see Offerman (of Ron Swanson fame) and friends smoking up that they've nearly forgotten they are the the target of a marketing initiative. Offerman and Mullally star in the new indie film from director Bob Byington. As for Brie, she's there to show her support.

Tribeca Films announced on Wednesday that it acquired the North American distribution rights to the movie. In addition to the spring 2013 premiere, Somebody Up There Likes Me will be available in more than 40 million…
Continue reading...

More About: Entertainment, Film, Video, Viral, Watercooler, alison brie, bong, indie, megan mullally, nick offerman, somebody up there likes me, sxsw, tribeca film


July 13 2011

6 Successful Foursquare Marketing Campaigns to Learn From


The Social Marketing Series is supported by Campaigner®. Campaigner email marketing enables small, medium and large businesses to strengthen customer relationships and drive sales by connecting to their customers quickly, simply and affordably. Visit www.campaigner.com to learn more.

There are now more than 500,000 businesses on Foursquare. We’ve already shared with you how to start marketing on Foursquare and how to set up a special — now we’re giving you a handful of campaigns that can inspire your own marketing initiatives.

Read on and take a tip from The History Channel, Starwood Hotels, Pepsi Max, a Florida eye doctor, a New York steakhouse and a German billboard.


1. Be On-Brand — History Channel


The History Channel Foursquare page launched in April 2010. Heather DiRubba, senior manager of publicity at The History Channel, says the network was already very active on Facebook and Twitter, so the marketing team wanted to open the brand up to a new platform — Foursquare — in order to “deepen [the] social engagement with the network’s viewers.”

Since The History Channel is not a physical location, it has a brand page that can be “followed.” When users check in to sites like the Highline in NYC or the Tower of London, a tip from The History Channel pops up, explaining some tidbit or fun fact about the background of the site. The tips are informative conversation starters — fun little nuggets to consume. And while it may not get people watching The History Channel, it makes history — its bread and butter — accessible and fun. This is a win, since many brands are on social media in order to be more accessible to consumers.

Success Metrics: The History Channel Foursquare page has 202,450 followers. While The History Channel doesn’t share numbers regarding how many people have unlocked the badge, here are some numbers derived from various History Channel tips:

Lesson: While The History Channel can’t directly tie the success of the Foursquare campaign to a spike in ratings, the brand has been successful in getting people excited about history and fun facts.


2. Reward Loyalty With Loyalty Points — Starwood Preferred Guest


In May, Starwood Hotels teamed up with Foursquare for its SPG — Starwood Preferred Guest — loyalty program. Once a guest links his SPG and Foursquare accounts, he can earn 250 Starpoints when he checks in to a Starwood hotel with a confirmed reservation.

“There’s a strong loyalty connection for our guests, so we’re using social media and tools in an interesting way and bringing value to the guests and deepening our relationships with them,” says Alyssa Waxenberg, senior director of emerging platforms at Starwood Hotels, which comprises nine hotel brands, including W Hotels, Sheraton, Westin and the St. Regis.

So far, hotel guests are happy with the promotion. “250 Starpoints is quite high for reward points,” says Abbey Reider, associate director for global search marketing and social media strategy at Starwood. “It’s great because rather than trying to reward with a discount or something related to our food and beverage outlets, we give back something that is truly meaningful and that the guests care about.” To put it in perspective, a night at a Starwood hotel can “cost” 3,000 or more Starpoints.

The other benefit is that the rewards have the same value all over the world and everything is taken care of on the back end, so there’s no staff training necessary. The same campaign runs at all 1,051 Starwood hotels, and there’s no need to worry about currency value, since a point is a point, no matter the country.

Reider says that though Foursquare is perceived as a very American phenomenon, that SPG has seen high levels of engagement in China — second in checkin volume only to the United States. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that global Foursquare usage is very strong,” she says.

Plus, through July 31, each mobile checkin enters a user into a contest for a resort getaway, including five free resort nights and airfare. Since Starpoints already have such a high perceived value to guests, the potential to earn more points and to win a vacation means people are happy to go through the steps of linking their Foursquare and SPG accounts.

“Foursquare makes it very easy for our hotels to try things and put campaigns into market,” says Waxenberg. “We don’t need to think about operational things.”

Success Metrics: Since the campaign’s launch in May, SPG has “given away” nearly 10 million points.

Lesson: Your loyal customers are probably excited about earning loyalty points with your brand. Consider using Foursquare to offer more loyalty points — the business doesn’t lose any actual money, but they do gain an excited consumer who will likely come back again and again.


3. Target Influencers — Pepsi Max


Each March, digital natives descend upon Austin, Texas for SXSW Interactive. Naturally, they check in to bars, restaurants, events and food trucks. This year, if users followed Big Boi on Foursquare and checked in throughout Austin, they could unlock the Golden Ticket badge, which pops up after checking in, just like any other badge. The Golden Ticket earned users a spot at a Big Boi concert during SXSW.

For those not in Austin or unlock the badge, the concert was livestreamed on UStream and a Facebook tab on the Pepsi Max page. Pepsi Max then posted a photo collage filled with pics that were posted on Instagram and Foursquare during the concert.

Success Metrics: The Golden Ticket was unlocked by 2,400 SXSW-goers, who filled the concert venue to capacity. There were more than 2,000 Foursquare checkins at the Big Boi concert, and Pepsi Max had more buzz than any other brand sponsor of SXSW.

Lesson: While not every brand has the deep pockets of Pepsi that can finance a partnership with Foursquare itself, it’s wise to target digital influencers, who are likely to share unique experiences — like winning a Golden Ticket — to their social networks.


4. Offer Specials on the Unexpected — Bright Eyes Family Vision Care


Typically, you see Foursquare promotions at bars, restaurants and other venues. But one Florida eye doctor makes use of the platform to benefit his medical practice. Nathan Bonilla-Warford says he’s been a fan of Foursquare since before it even launched in Tampa — he even founded Foursquare Day. He decided to make use of Foursquare both as a consumer and as a merchant, even though his business is somewhat nontraditional for the location-based service.

“I think the fact that we’re not a bar or a restaurant is part of what’s so compelling, because people think it’s interesting,” says Bonilla-Warford. “It’s different, it’s surprising.” What’s especially surprising is what he offers as a reward for checkins: a locally-made hot sauce. He says he likes to keep things interesting.

“It’s such a left-field kind of reward that it catches people’s eyes — they smile and think its funny,” says Bonilla-Warford. “Then they go home and talk about it — I went to the eye doctor, and I got this hot sauce!’”

While hot sauce is the current reward, Bonilla-Warford has dabbled in more, well, relevant offerings. For Foursquare Day, he has offered 50% off a pair of glasses and a buy-one, get-one-free deal. For special occasions, he says, it’s a fun promotion, but Warford-Bonilla couldn’t afford to offer those promos all the time. He promotes the Foursquare campaigns in blog posts and emails, and there’s a door cling.

Success Metrics: While Foursquare users are “definitely not a giant percentage of the people who we see in the office,” Bonilla-Warford says it gives his practice another way to interact with that community, and the tech-oriented people appreciate the gesture. He keeps the promotion going because he loves Foursquare, and the few customers who are Foursquare users appreciate it. Plus, it has made Bonilla-Warford somewhat of a celebrity.

Lesson: Most people associate Foursquare specials with retail and restaurants, but businesses of any type can reap the benefits of the platform. Since many people push their Foursquare checkins to Twitter and Facebook, having a presence on Foursquare makes for great word-of-mouth buzz.


5. Give Away Something Small — Angelo & Maxie’s


Last fall, New York steakhouse Angelo and Maxie’s wanted to do a giveaway and increase revenue while running the campaign. The restaurant brought Florida-based social media firm Socially Buzz on board to implement the campaign. For 45 days from October to November, the business ran a Foursquare special — buy an entree and get a free dessert.

“We did some research and found that pretty much every customer who orders a meal usually orders dessert,” says Andre Kay, founder of Socially Buzz.

While Angelo and Maxie’s ran campaigns on Foursquare and Facebook Places and also had a coupon landing page on the web, Kay says Foursquare comprised 90% of the campaign, and thus contributes most of the success to Foursquare.

Success Metrics: During the 45-day long campaign in October and November, there were 400 Foursquare checkins, meaning there were 400 entrees purchased. Of those, 60% of the Foursquare users were checking in to Angelo and Maxie’s for the first time. The campaign boosted revenues by 18% during the 45-day period, and it was then extended for another 30 days.

Lesson: You don’t have to give away a meal — a free dessert just may be the cherry on top that will lure customers back time and again. Plus, once customers come to the restaurant, they may splurge and order appetizers and wine since dessert is free, which will boost revenues even more.


6. Utilize the API — GranataPet


A small German pet food company got clever in March, using the Foursquare API and the principle of Pavlov’s conditioning. GranataPet installed 10 billboards in Munich and Berlin, and when a user checked in to the billboard on Foursquare, it “dispensed” dog food into a dog bowl on the ground for four-legged friends. How does it work? Checkins are noted on a distant server that is connected to a black box within the billboard that controls the dispenser — when the server registers a checkin, it dispenses a sample of food. Sounds tricky, but each billboard costs just 350 Euro to install, says Dominik Heinrich, innovation director at Die Zietspringer, a division of Agenta that created the campaign.

Thanks to classic conditioning, the dogs became the target consumer and would pull their owners back to the billboard day after day in order to get the free food. The campaign was inexpensive and clever, and it empowered the dogs to have a say in what they eat.

Success Metrics: The 10 billboards averaged 118 checkins each on the first day, and Heinrich says Munich pet stores sold 28% more GranataPet during and 10 days after the campaign than prior to it. Because of the campaign’s success, GranataPet will install 100 billboards by the end of the year, with five in each of 20 cities. Sales of GranataPet are 14% higher than they were last year, and pet store requests to carry the product are 38% higher.

Lesson: A little innovation goes a long way. Plus, a quirky campaign like this has a tendency to go viral, which spreads awareness of your brand even farther.


Series Supported by Campaigner®

The Social Marketing Series is supported by Campaigner®. Campaigner®’s Smart Email Builder makes it easier than ever to create professional looking email marketing campaigns and affords multiple ways to grow and manage lists, integrate with CRM, and utilize campaign metrics and reports to increase results. For more information, please visit www.campaigner.com or watch a product demo today.


More Twitter Marketing Resources From Mashable


- 9 Lessons From Successful Brands on Twitter
- 16 Food Trucks Serving Up Tweetable Eats
- 7 Tips for Better Twitter Chats
- 5 Proven Twitter Marketing Strategies
- The Voice: How a TV Show Became a 24/7 Social Media Conversation

More About: foursquare, location-based social network, MARKETING, Social Marketing Series, social media, starwood hotels, sxsw

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March 19 2011

Interview: Guy Kawasaki Talks With Mashable at SXSW [VIDEO]

At SXSW 2011, well-known author, venture capitalist and former Apple luminary Guy Kawasaki sits down for an interview with Mashable’s Christina Warren. In the wide-ranging discussion, he talks about his new book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions, and points out useful tools he’s discovered at SXSW this year. Along the way, he talks about his two different stints working with Apple, musing about what might have happened if he had stayed with the company.

More About: apple, christina warren, guy kawasaki, interview, sxsw, sxsw2011, video

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Dane Cook Talks to Mashable & Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg [VIDEO]


Earlier this week at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Mashable interviewed a handful of celebrities and social media influencers on Facebook Live from the Mashable House.

Among the guests were Dane Cook and Facebook exec Randi Zuckerberg, who chatted about how to grow a Facebook page, the effect of social media on news and information distribution, Cook’s upcoming Broadway debut, and a lot more during the 27-minute interview.

Check it out in the video above, and in the comments section, let us know what you think.

More About: dane cook, mashable, randi zuckerberg, sxsw, sxsw 2011, sxswi, sxswi 2011, video

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March 18 2011

Rainn Wilson Talks to Mashable [VIDEO]

Earlier this week, Mashable interviewed celebrities and influencers on Facebook Live from the Mashable House in Austin, Texas during the South by Southwest Interactive conference.

Among the guests were Rainn Wilson and director James Gunn, who discussed their upcoming movie “Super,” which opens April 1, the role social media now plays in movie making and who they like to follow on Twitter.

Check it out in the video above.

More About: james gunn, rainn wilson, sxsw

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Mashable SXSWi 2011 Recap [VIDEOS & PICS]

It’s hard to believe the Interactive portion of South by Southwest has come and gone. Mashable would like to thank our community who supported us during the festival – from those who spent time with us at the Mashable SXSWi House, watched our Facebook Live interviews, tweeted about our interviews and panel discussion and checked in with our Gowalla partnership.

We’re also thrilled that Mashable was named the most buzzed about brand during SXSWi in a study by Ad Age and the social media analytics firm People Browsr based on brand mentions of specific companies across Facebook and Twitter. A big thanks to everyone!

We had more than 8,000 SXSWi attendees come through the doors at the Mashable SXSWi House for two days of Geek Games, dancing to DJ Chicken George and Eclectic Method, and Sony Bloggie Bootcamp. It was a pleasure meeting and spending time with our community of readers. A special thanks to Romany Malco for hosting the Geek Games!

Video highlights from around SXSWi:

iPad2 SXSW Launch


Mashable's Christina Warren visits the new pop-up Apple store in Austin, TX.


Mike Tyson Interview


Our editor in chief, Adam Ostrow, went toe-to-toe with Mike Tyson for five good minutes. Watch as Adam gets the details about Tyson's new mobile game, his acting career, and his new reality show.


It's Not TV, It's Social TV


Interactive television experts gathered on Saturday at SXSWi in Austin, Texas to discuss the future of social TV.Panelists, which ranged from the likes of Chloe Sladden of Twitter to Gavin Purcell from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, discussed ways in which they incorporate social media into popular television shows such as "No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain" and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."Fred Graver, the senior VP of Travel Channel, spoke to the audience about his initial skepticism regarding the integration of Twitter into "No Reservations." "It wasn't a no brainer for us." said Graver. "The whole thing here is if you have 36-48 hours before the show premiers, do you want to spend your time talking about Tony (Bourdain) live-tweeting? And that was a big discussion but we decided, yes lets do it."Doing it proved to be successful for Graver and the Travel Channel, with "No Reservations" currently at more than 1 million "likes" on Facebook and an increasingly active Twitter following.


Dennis Crowley on the Future of Foursquare


Mashable CEO and founder Pete Cashmore interviews Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley at South By Southwest Interactive 2011 on the future of Foursquare.


Ben Huh Talks Sketchy Bunnies


Let's face it: People in animals suits are just uniformly creepy - especially when they're interacting with children. That's why Ben Huh, founder and CEO of the Cheezburger Network, plans to launch a seasonal site dedicated to sketchy Easter bunnies.

Congratulations to Team Divasanddorks who defeated more than 40 teams to win the Geek Games. And congrats to Catherine Ward who won the Sony Internet TV with her Singstar Dance skills on PS3.

Shortly, we’ll be highlighting the photos and vides you submitted through our CNN iReport SXSW partnership.

Don’t forget to tag yourself in our Facebook and Flickr albums!
You can also view photos from the Mashable SXSWi House on our Pixable Photofeed with the Facebook plug-in or iPad app.

In the meantime, here are some photo highlights of our time at SXSWi in Austin, Texas.

Pete Cashmore & Dennis Crowley





Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore interviews Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley during a featured Q&A at SXSWi.


Ogilvy Notes




Artists take notes of Pete Cashmore's interview with Dennis Crowley.


Ellen Page and Randi Zuckerberg




Ellen Page and Randi Zuckerberg pose for a pic after their Facebook Live interview.


Rainn Wilson, Randi Zuckerber, and James Gunn




The three pose for a few shots after Randi interviewed Rainn and James about their new movie, "Super."


Kevin Rose




Digg's co-founder's talks during a Facebook Live session at the Mashable SXSWi House.


Twister




Mashable's readers square off against one another, hoping to win the Geek Games.


Geek Games




Contestants compete for free swag.


Geek Games Winners!




Congrats to Team Divas And Dorks on winning the Geek Games!


Shuffleboard




People kick back at SXSW.


Romany Malco




Actor Romany Malco, who emceed the Geek Games, gets to know his fans at the Mashable House.


DJ Chicken George




DJ Chicken George laid down the tracks for first night's party at the SXSWi Mashable House.


Partygoers




The party was in full swing all night long at the Mashable house at SXSWi.


Eclectic Method




Eclectic Method laid down the tracks for second night's party at the SXSWi Mashable House.


Sharon Feder




Mashable's managing editor, Sharon Feder, speaks about "the new workplace" on a panel at SXSWi.


Adam Ostrow & Mike Tyson




Editor-in-Chief Adam Ostrow hangs out with former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.


Brenna Ehrlich & Ben Huh from "I Can Haz"




Mashable's Brenna Ehrlich and Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger Network, show off a Mashable Follow badge sticker.


Austin By Night




The Texas State Capitol.


Social Food Truck




Austin loves food trucks. Here is the Chi'lantro fusion food truck encouraging patrons to check in via Gowalla, SXSWi's official location-based app.


Tacos!




Four for a dollar! No wonder the wait was so long ... and worth it!


Mashable team photo




Mashable team members Stacy Green, Pete Cashmore and Morgan Berk outside of the Mashable SXSWi House.

And a final big thanks to our sponsors PepsiMax, Sony Electronics, Skifta and .TV!

Come check out the Pepsi MAX Lot at 3rd Street and San Jacinto Boulevard! Follow @PepsiMAX on Twitter for the daily schedule for huge concerts, happy hours, BBQs, games, and giveaways! And, well, lots of free soda..

Sony Electronics is a leading provider of audio and video electronics and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Sony is noted for a wide range of consumer audio-visual products, such as the BRAVIA® LCD and 3D high-definition televisions, Cyber-shot® and α (alpha) digital cameras, Handycam® camcorder and Walkman® personal stereo. Sony is also an innovator in the IT arena with its VAIO® personal computers; and in high-definition professional broadcast and production equipment, highlighted by the XDCAM® HD and CineAlta™ lines of cameras and camcorders, and the SXRD™ 4K digital projector. Join the Sony Conversation at Sony.com/Blog.

Skifta is an app-based media shifting service that turns your Android phone into a global remote control. Easily access your digital media from virtually any source and stream to connected electronics in the home. With the DLNA Certified® Skifta app on your phone, you can easily access music, photos and videos from your phone, the cloud, or remotely from your home and stream that media to connected DLNA and UPnP consumer electronics including TVs, IP-stereos like Sonos systems, PlayStation® 3 consoles, Windows 7 PCs, and thousands more. No wires, downloading or side loading. Check it out at skifta.com.

If your website has a play button, it belongs on .TV. Stand out from the crowd with a .TV domain name; tell people you create and share great video content on your site even before they visit. Come visit us in the Mashable House at Buffalo Billiards on March 13-14 for a chance to register a FREE .TV domain name. And, mark your calendars: the .TV AUCTION starts March 9. Bid on desirable, sought-after domain names including air.tv, stocks.tv, who.tv, and more at moniker.com/tv or register the .TV of your choice for while you’re there.

More About: Lists, media, Photos, sxsw, video

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March 14 2011

38 Startups Launch During 3-Day Road Trip to SXSW


Last year, six fledgling startups were unleashed on the world after a three-day road trip to Austin on a WiFi and power-equipped bus during the StartupBus’s maiden voyage. For round two, StartupBus founder Elias Bizannes has turned the hackathon-meets-accelerator bus ride into a massive six-city competition.

Out of more than one thousand applicants from six cities — Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago, Silicon Valley, New York City and Miami — 150 were chosen to take the three-day ride on six buses, one departing from each city, to SXSW. Their mission: to form teams and build and launch a startup before reaching Austin.

The six different busses carried 38 teams that successfully completed the challenge. Now just 15 semi-finalist teams remain. Some will be chosen to compete as finalists in front of panel of judges during the grand finale on Monday.

“StartupBus is a resource to help future entrepreneurs,” explains Bizannes, who also believes the six-city effort will help raise the profile of less recognized technology hubs in the United States.

The short time frame, self-organized teams and space constraints give rise to stronger teams and more effective products, he says.

Bizannes believes that at least four of the applicants will grow into legitimate startups. Several teams have already been in talks with investors, and one has even been offered $10,000 in seed funding, he says.

StartupBus will eventually grow into StartupHouse, a communal living situation that hatches new born startups. “It will be like Y Combinator and American Idol in a blender,” says Bizannes.

For now, keep your eye on the finalists. Some, if not all, of these less-than-one-week-old startups have a shot at turning the machinations of a road trip adventure into successful business endeavors.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Marianna Maya Photo

More About: startupbus, sxsw

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Measuring Social Media: Who Has Access to the Firehose?


At SXSW 2011, I moderated a panel titled “Measuring Social Media – Let’s Get Serious,” with the goal of having a frank discussion about the realities, pratfalls and opportunities for individuals and marketers tasked with managing social media and measuring social media ROI.

During the Q&A session of the panel, a audience member from Porter Novelli asked Kevin Weil, product lead for revenue at Twitter, a pointed and direct question that cuts to the core of the conversation surrounding social media measurements: Who has access to the data?

In the case of Twitter, the company offers free access to its API for developers. The API can provide access and insight into information about tweets, replies and keyword searches, but as developers who work with Twitter — or any large scale social network — know, that data isn’t always 100% reliable. Unreliable data is a problem when talking about measurements and analytics, where the data is helping to influence decisions related to social media marketing strategies and allocations of resources.

The question that the audience member asked — and one that we tried to touch on a bit in the panel itself — was who has access to this raw data. Twitter doesn’t comment on who has full access to its firehose, but to Weil’s credit he was at least forthcoming with some of the names, including stalwarts like Microsoft, Google and Yahoo — plus a number of smaller companies.


The Problem With Limited Access


One of the companies that has access to Twitter’s data firehose is Gnip. As we discussed in November, Twitter has entered into a partnership with Gnip that allows the social data provider to resell access to the Twitter firehose.

This is great on one level, because it means that businesses and services can access the data. The problem, as noted by panelist Raj Kadam, the CEO of Viralheat, is that Gnip’s access can be prohibitively expensive.

For measuring services that can’t afford (or aren’t willing to pay) to pay for full access, the alternative remains using the API, which can yield inconsistent results. To be clear, I’m not criticizing Gnip or its pricing model. Rather, I want to highlight the realities about data access.


It’s Not Just Twitter


The problems with reliable access to analytics and measurement information is by no means limited to Twitter. Facebook data is also tightly controlled. With Facebook, privacy controls built into the API are designed to prevent mass data scraping. This is absolutely the right decision. However, a reality of social media measurement is that Facebook Insights isn’t always reachable and the data collected from the tool is sometimes inaccurate.

It’s no surprise there’s a disconnect between the data that marketers and community managers want and the data that can be reliably accessed. Twitter and Facebook were both designed as tools for consumers. It’s only been in the last two years that the platform ecosystem aimed at serving large brands and companies — platforms and tools like Salesforce.com, Buddy Media, Viralheat, Radian6, Vitrue and Involver — have started to build out and address the needs of these business users.


We Need More Transparency for How to Access and Connect with Data


The data that companies like Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare collect are some of their most valuable assets. It isn’t fair to expect a free ride or first-class access to the data by anyone who wants it.

Having said that, more transparency about what data is available to services and brands is needed and necessary.

We’re just scraping the service of what social media monitoring, measurement and management tools can do. To get to the next level, it’s important that we all question who has access to the firehose.

Photo courtesy of Jason Falls

More About: analytics, facebook, smaroi, social media roi, sxsw, sxsw2011, twitter

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League of Extraordinary Hackers Build Robots for Good


Hidden away in the Speakeasy on Congress in Austin, Texas, 14 teams of hackers are building robots out of LEGO Mindstorm kits. They’ll battle it out until the wee hours of Monday morning, and one team will be crowned the most extraordinary of all.

The hackathon robot competition is part of the The League of Extraordinary Hackers, a day-long affair put on by Google and several partners, including Microsoft and SuperHappyDevHouse, designed to support and uplift the technology community during the South by Southwest Interactive Festival.

LEGO, also a partner, has donated 50 Mindstorm kits and a nearly endless supply of LEGOs so that teams can build the best robots possible in just a few hours time. Google, with the help of Donorschoose.org, will pay it forward after the competition by donating the kits to high schools that have women in technology programs.

“We want to attract the next generation of builders,” explains Google’s open web advocate Chris Messina.

Messina is the brains behind the endeavor. He was anxious to attend SXSW, but Google’s travel policy requires that he have a compelling reason to be there; he used his 20% time to craft that reason.

The League of Extraordinary Hackers event is designed to celebrate technologists, says Messina, a point that is driven home by the trading cards being handed out to event attendees. There are nine different cards in total, and each one represents an important man or woman in technology — Vint Cerf, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, Nikola Tesla, Steve Wozniak, Thomas Edison, Dean Kamen, Grace Hopper and Anita Borg.

The cards include custom drink recipes on the back, so event-goers can exchange their cards for the drink on the back or trade the card with fellow attendees to get the drink of their choosing.

The meat of the hackathon is the robot challenge, but Google served up several side-dish offerings in the style of a developer garage for most of the afternoon Sunday. The company brought in speakers to talk to developers and dissect each of Google’s technologies, web fonts, cellbots and HTML5.

The evening portion of the event will be the LEGO Mindstorm robot challenge. It will also include food, and funky entertainment from an orchestra of performing Furbies — they’ve been hacked and now have electronic voice boxes.

For Google, The League of Extraordinary Hackers is a community goodwill affair that also doubles as an opportunity to present the company in a positive light. Messina hopes the event showcases Google’s culture of innovation while also giving back.

More About: Google, hackathon, MARKETING, sxsw

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March 13 2011

The South By Southwest Panels, Illustrated [PICS]


Sometimes the best way to stand out at a digitally focused event like South by Southwest is to do something analog.

That was some of the thinking behind Ogilvy Notes, a project by the ad agency Ogilvy. The agency dispatched six artists at SXSW to attend 25 to 30 panel discussions and act sort of as court reporters. The artists not only take notes about the talks, but provide some illustrations, a practice known as visual note-taking or graphic representations.

Jordan Berkowitz, executive director of creative technology and innovation at Ogilvy, says the idea came about by asking the question: “What can a large advertising agency do at an event like this — promote itself or add value?” Opting for the latter, the Notes are supposed to bring attendees up to speed on events they’ve missed. (Though not all the events. Berkowitz says there are too many and that would be impossible.)

Ogilvy will distribute 11″ X 17″ prints for free and is posting the the Notes online. Berkowitz says the agency wasn’t interested in doing something totally digital though. “There’s something really fun and tactile about this,” he says. “It’s a skill that uses both sides of your brain.”


"The 90 Minute Solution: Live Like a Sprinter"




Speaker: Tony Schwartz. Artist: Sunni Brown


"Agile Self-Development"




Speaker: Dinah Sanders. Artist: ImageThink.


"Be Heard: How to Innovate at Big Companies"




Speakers: Gene Kim, William Hertling. Artist: Liisa Sorsa


"Beyond Check-Ins: Location-Based Game Design"




Speakers: John-Paul Walton, Zach Saul. Artist: ImageThink.


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Tags: News Ogilvy sxsw

March 12 2011

How Foursquare & AmEx Are Putting a Fresh Twist on Loyalty Marketing


In the summer of 2010, Foursquare’s Head of Business Development Tristan Walker and American Express’s Vice President of Global Marketing Capabilities David Wolf started talking about ways to work together to redefine loyalty for local merchants.

The fruit of their conversations is now on display in the city Austin, Texas where 60 merchants — including Whole Foods, Starwood Hotels and Stubb’s BBQ — are offering Foursquare users “spend $5, save $5″ rewards when they load the special and swipe their AmEx cards.

The pilot program started Friday and will run through Tuesday, March 15. Participating merchants have posted “Austin Unlocked” window clings to highlight their participation, and Foursquare users need only register their American Express cards to unlock this new type of special — the Loyalty Special.


Loyalty and Location in Real-Time


On Friday, Walker and I journeyed to Le Cafe Crepe so he could demonstrate the special in action. Upon arrival, Walker launched Foursquare, checked in to the cafe, tapped to redeem the offer and then hit the green “Load to Card” button to initiate the special — see a 44-second walk-through in the video above.

Several minutes later (there was a long line), Walker placed his order, the cashier swiped his AmEx card, and then together we waited for proof that the $5 savings reward had been activated by his swipe. Seconds later, Walker received a push notification alerting him that he had successfully redeemed the special. Soon thereafter, he also earned the “Swiped @ SXSW” badge — for each badge redeemed, American Express is donating $1 to Grounded in Music.

Walker was quick to point out that the experience was nearly frictionless, happening exactly at the time of sale without requiring integration with the cafe’s point-of-sale system.

This is what Walker and Wolf believe is a ground breaking initiative that finally creates the closed loop between a consumer’s digital behavior and their offline spending behavior.


Phase One


Wolf calls the South by Southwest Interactive relationship with Foursquare, “phase one.”

Being a first-of-a-kind program, AmEx decided to not only fund the offer — it’s paying for all of those $5 credits — but to also send out a street team to recruit and train local merchants, print up informative cards for attendees and make QR code pins to get the word out at the festival.

American Express is making the financial investment because it believes it can use phase one to get to phase two: when the company’s local merchant network will be able to set up, run and fund their own offers.

Wolf talks about the partnership as a strategic move on behalf of the company to align itself with a hip startup working on the location-meets-loyalty challenge. “We wanted to partner with a young, innovative company who understands the importance of providing value to merchants,” he said.

Wolf also explains that “American Express is anxious to play in this space because of this closed loop of information that we get.” To create the closed-loop effect, American Express is allowing a third party to access its APIs for card member data, merchant data and transaction data for the first time ever.


Regular Since 2009


On Foursquare’s end, Walker speaks of the startup’s desire to work with a preeminent company that truly understands loyalty, understands customer appreciation and has connections to local merchants. One of Foursquare’s goals, he says, is to recreate the type of brand affinity that consumers have with American Express.

“Foursquare has taken inspiration from AmEx’s ‘member since’ designation as to how we allow our users to evangelize or stake their claim to place. Much the same way that AmEx allows for that ‘member since’ designation, we want to create a ‘regular since’ designation … and allow merchants to communicate with those folks who are the most fervent, and are evangelists for their brands,” said Walker.

In working with AmEx at SXSW, Foursquare is taking this “regular since” idea to the next level, while also delivering on its closed-loop promise to American Express and the participating local merchants.

Next up, phase two.

Image courtesy of Flickr, The.Comedian

More About: american express, amex, foursquare, loyalty, MARKETING, sxsw

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