Category Archives: Communications

Should Companies Embrace Facebook?

bivI was interviewed for a cover article that appeared in this week’s edition of Business In Vancouver. The story reads “Surge in Social Networking Rings Corporate Security Alarms” and talks about the rising use of platforms such as Facebook and the potential negative affects it could have on the workplace. Privacy and security are increasing concerns as more people congregate, share and communicate online. I don’t disagree, particularly when it’s employees of companies disclosing corporate information not intended for the public on a ‘company Facebook page’. This is particularly true with publicly traded companies. The same careful administration bestowed to a company website, should also be taken with a Facebook page or Ning community site or Myspace space.

But this shouldn’t stop your company from embracing these social media tools and platforms, which allow you to reach prospects and customers in a meaningful and massive way like no other. First, you’re reaching them where they go and on their terms. At Facebook, a user will only get updates on your company if they opt-in by becoming a fan. At Twitter, a user will only receive your messages if they become a follower. They also have the power to share it with their friends, fans and followers instantly, giving you some viral love in return.

And second, these tools aren’t trendy, they’re cultural. More and more people find these tools to be just way too simple and powerful to ignore. And the price is right. Our raw and primitive need to communicate and connect will never change. How we do, does and will. And technology leads the way in helping us serve that need cheaper, faster and easier. These tools and platforms are revolutionizing the way we communicate and connect, and businesses may as well learn how to use them to their benefit, and not their detriment. Below is an excerpt from the article:

While a company may not be able to control negative comments that are posted on the Internet, the web’s interactivity allows companies to respond to them. “There’s a whole etiquette to social networking that not everybody gets,” said Rajan Sodhi, vice-president of marketing at PEER 1 Network Enterprises Inc. (TSX: PIX). One consistent rule is to communicate openly, honestly and often.

Vancouver-based PEER 1 uses a number of social networking tools and has an employee whose sole role is to cultivate the company’s online presence. PEER 1 also monitors the Internet for content that mentions the company. “It can be positive or negative,” said Sodhi. “If it’s something [about PEER 1] they aren’t happy with, we acknowledge them right then and there.” As well as reacting publicly on a blog or network on which a negative comment was posted, PEER 1 will usually follow-up with a phone call.

“We’re a real believer that these social media tools and platforms are here to stay,” said Sodhi, who is the administrator of PEER 1’s Facebook site. “You can be fearful of it and not embrace it, but I think you’re going to lose one of the best tools for communicating and reaching your market.”

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Filed under Business, Communications, Facebook, Internet, marketing, MySpace, Ning, Online marketing tactics, Selling, Small Business Marketing, Social Media, social network, Technology, Viral

Obama on Track to Rebrand America

Barack Obama Time Magazine Cover

US President Elect Obama on the Cover of Time Magazine.

As written by Kristi Keck of CNN, US President Elect Barack Obama has the ability to rebrand America internationally, and restore its image as one of hope and prosperity for everyone:

President-elect Barack Obama is poised to restore the United States’ image in the international community, but experts say the president-elect must show the world that his actions will live up to his rhetoric.

Receiving a warm welcome is not the same as maintaining one, and Obama has a lot of work to do to improve the U.S. brand.

America’s image has declined in nearly every region of the world in recent years, but Obama’s victory “enables the United States to start again with a clean slate,” according to John Quelch, the senior associate dean at Harvard Business School.

“Americans can actually go to dinner parties and cocktail receptions around the world today and not have to apologize for the United States the way they have had to do the last several years,” he said. “The election has made life a little bit easier for Americans living and traveling abroad to hold their head up high again.”

The United States’ tarnished reputation has been fueled by a combination of factors, including opposition to U.S. policies like the war Iraq and alleged torture and abuse of prisoners, the perception of hypocrisy, unilateralism, and the perceived war on Islam, according to a congressional report released in June.

Obama represents a “clean break” from the past, and his election is the first big step toward change, said Dick Martin, author of “Rebuilding Brand America.”

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Filed under Barack Obama, Branding, Communications, marketing

Poll on Marketing Spend

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Filed under advertising, Branding, Business, Communications, Internet, marketing, Selling, Small Business Marketing

Off Topic: Opening the TSX Quite a Thrill

My PEER 1 colleagues and I opening the TSX on September 30th, 2008.

My colleagues and I opening the TSX on September 30th, 2008.

Yesterday, at 9:30am EST, my PEER 1 colleagues and I were given the opportunity to open the market for the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) (on which we are listed under the symbol PIX). What a cool experience and one that I won’t soon forget. I remember back in university taking a course on corporate valuation taught by a former Wall Street insider. I found it fascinating and have been following the markets ever since. I’ve also seen many companies on television opening the market by ringing the bell, or in our case, pushing a touch screen button on a plasma (ah, technology). I can’t say I ever thought I would get the chance, but I’m very glad I did. The opening marks a significant milestone in PEER 1’s nine year history and I feel very fortunate to have been a part of it, and to have shared the experience with a tremendous group of people.

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Filed under Branding, Business, Co-location, Communications, data center, Hosting, Internet, It infrastructure, Managed Hosting, PEER 1, Technology

I’m a PC, The REAL Microsoft Ad Campaign Begins

Now it’s all beginning to make sense. The Gates Seinfeld ads were just a teaser to get people buzzing with its quirky humor and purposeful lack of Microsoft-related content. Negative or positive, it did. Create an environment of high awareness for the brand, then launch the real campaign as people are curious and thirsty to find out what’s next. Well, what’s next is “I’m a PC” ad campaign that embraces Apple’s negative reference to Microsoft in its campaign, and turns it around to show that PC users aren’t the sterotype depicted in the Apple campaign. Instead, they are people of all walks of life, from teachers to architects, artists to programmers, celebrities to ultimate fighters. I’m impressed. From this first set of commercials, I think the ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky is on to something. Regular PC users can also go to the Microsoft website and upload a video or picture of themselves, which will be profiled on the site, can be shared with others, and could be featured in future Microsoft ads as well as appear on the big screen in New York’s Time Square. It’s an audacious campaign and one that will be very hard to ignore.Check out the article in the New York Times that details the Microsoft campaign.

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Filed under advertising, Apple, Branding, Business, Communications, marketing, Microsoft

Second Microsoft Ad With Gates and Seinfeld

Here is the follow up ad (long version) to the first Gates Seinfeld Microsoft ad. Techcrunch isn’t impressed, and based on the comments I’ve received regarding the first ad, not many of you will be either. I found this one very much like a Seinfeld episode, so I enjoy the humor, but I do have to say that it isn’t getting to the point fast enough. This holds true with the shorter tv ad versions that I’ve seen.

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Filed under advertising, Branding, Business, Comedy, Communications, Humor, Internet, marketing, Microsoft, Selling

New Microsoft Ad Campaign with Gates and Seinfeld Launched

New Microsoft ad campaign featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld.

New Microsoft ad campaign featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld.

The much anticipated Micrsoft ad campaign (watch here) put together by hot ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky in response to the devestating Mac vs. PC campaign made its debut during the Giants-Redskins NFL game as reported by Techcrunch (and a nod to Tony for sending it my way). The campaign features founder Bill Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who was reportedly paid $10 million to be involved, in what looks like will be a series of ads that will run as a chronological short story. The debut has very little meat around Micrsoft Vista, which will likely perturb many in the tech community. Instead, it sets up a tone and conversation that hopes to have us all view Microsoft and its Vista product much differently.

Personally, I think this is a smart move. Vista has been plagued with negative press and reviews, from its massive delay in release to its lackluster debut, PC users have not taken to Vista the way Microsoft had hoped. Not even close. Having a debut ad that is “hard hitting” and dives straight into the features and benefits of Vista or slams MAC would come across as a “me-too” campaign, and would likely not overcome the stigma and feelings towards the product.

Setting a new tone, creating a new conversation, and using a completely different way of looking at it could help change the emotional barriers that consumers seem to have for the product. What do I think of the first ad? It made me chuckle and I’m very curious to see the follow up ad. So far… I like. What do you think?

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Filed under advertising, Branding, Business, Communications, Humor, marketing, Microsoft, Technology