Monthly Archives: October 2011

Social media enlightenment

Social media, marketing, and creative advertising have come a long way since my first venture into the business world (and that wasn’t all that long ago). Likewise, I’ve seen decent companies bring revolutionary ideas to the table, only to disappear within months or a couple years after launch. In the frantic race to simultaneously prove return on investment and justify innovative direction, many existing marketing giants are feeling pressure to adapt and simply avoid becoming an industry laggard. These conflicting needs are a daily challenge for brands and businesses alike.

So, how can a company quickly and efficiently change its perspective on social media? The answer may be “enlightenment through creative and strategic risk.”

A majority of business professionals understand that communication pathways have changed, and so have the vehicles. Only a few years ago, brands were able to gain instant market share simply by creating a presence within a social network, throwing some funding behind seeding the network, and then reaping their successes through earned media and elevated community traffic. In the current state of social media, a brand is extremely lucky to break through all of the chatter armed only with an integrated social media presence. The new world of digital and social marketing requires brands to look at their business through a completely new perspective.

First, I’m a firm believer that business objectives should come first and should never be put at risk purely for the purpose of social buzz. Now, how can you compliment your business objectives through social media? I’m guessing GM doesn’t plan on selling a car because of a tweet, or a truck through a Facebook post. But I do believe that a tweet or a post can help solidify relationships with your existing customers, facilitate new relationships, and create brand loyalists. The value of these relationships and conversations is a variable as diverse as the audience and network they occur on.

Remember, social media is a platform for conversations and a vehicle for sharing new, personal, and unique content. The space was not meant to drive direct sales. With this in mind, you can now explore your tactics through a new lens; one that is dedicated to some basic guidelines of “new, personal, unique and social.” If you were to explore all of the strategic pathways that consumers communicate with online through this lens, you’re bound to discover campaign direction with social steam power. But what good is building steam without the potential to see explosive results? This is where many marketers find themselves stuck – with every entrepreneurial venture comes risk, and risk sometimes results in unconquerable challenges. If you’re able to predict accurate ROI then it’s probably already been done. However, this is precisely the point in social and digital campaigns where you reach innovative enlightenment. You are attempting to explore the path to become an “entrepreneur” of sorts, creating a whole new idea with the tools and unique offerings that your brand or business has to offer. This is your adventure into the unknown marriage of a new strategy, innovative tactics, and an audience that can talk back.

Social media can be the catalyst for a plethora of marketing ideas, and sometimes these ideas can generate explosive movements. In the end, a social media movement requires the right creative lens, a healthy dose of considered risk, and an enlightened organization to be supportive – win or lose.

If you’re interested in further investigation of some progressive social media brands— check out the short list below.




Virgin America




@Zappos (CEO – Tony)










White House




And the Ad Age A-List Magazine of 2011 is …

Announced this month, Ad Age recognized the A-List magazines that have excelled at meeting a challenge, turning things around, building new businesses or just setting a consistent editorial and business example one more time. Vogue, the 12x/year publication, has been named the 2011 Magazine of the Year. “For 118 years, Vogue has been America’s cultural barometer, putting fashion in the context of the larger world we live in- how we dress, live, socialize; what we eat, listen to, watch; who leads and inspires us.”

The A-List has changed significantly from 2010 to 2011. The 2010 A-List is below:

01. People Stylewatch

02. The Atlantic

03. All You

04. Cooking

05. Food Network – Bumped up to # 3 in 2011, the only title to remain in the top 10

06. Parenting

07. Bazaar

08. Elle Décor

09. Vice

10. Wired

In 2010, the focus was on culture, lifestyle and fashion (including budget –friendly options). These publications also delivered a lighter message to the reader. While in 2011, the focus is now more on the economy, business, lifestyle and of course fashion. While they have a few newcomers to the list, they have still focused on established publications that continue to grow despite the odds.

The 2011 A-List from Ad Age:

No. 10: The Economist
“The Economist increased its paid subscriptions another 5% in the first half and grew total paid circulation 3%, to 844,000.” The Economist was the 2008 Magazine of the year. This year the Economist introduced Economist Education which is a set of electronic learning courses focused on emerging market. “It also has 1.2 million Twitter followers and 800,000 Facebook fans.”  The Economist continues to be a leader in the global news.

No. 9: This Old House
“Call it a case of the right magazine at the right time. Advertisers kept flocking to This Old House despite the economy and housing market, because people may be buying new houses less, but they’re nesting, remodeling and aspiring more. Ad pages through the October issue increased 16.8%, according to the Media Industry Newsletter, helped a little by one more issue in 2011 than 2010.”

No. 8: The New Yorker
“At a time when there are questions about how much people will pay for content, The New Yorker, with its circulation of 1 million, keeps proving that quality has customers. Its single-copy sales rose 1.2%, despite a $1 price hike to $5.99 and an industry-wide downdraft at newsstands, and its subs are up, despite a $10 price hike to $70.” The digital side of The New Yorker is continuing to grow now having 27,000 iPad-only subscribers which pay $60 a year or $6 per month and also they have 189,000 paying readers together with iPad, Kindle, Nook and digital editions including print subscribers who have activated digital access.

No. 7: National Geographic
This magazine has been around as long as I can remember. “Editor Chris Johns was our Editor of the Year in 2008; the magazine appeared on our A-List in 2008 and 2009. And it’s having another great year. Newsstand is up 5%; ad pages are up 14%. And it enjoys the admiration of its peers, winning Magazine of the Year at the 2011 National Magazine Awards and receiving nominations for photography, news/documentary photography, feature photography and best single-topic issue.”

No. 6: Monocle
Monocle is a newer magazine that launched February 2007, focused on global affairs, business, culture and design. “Monocle this year is making its first appearance on the A-List. With paid circulation of just 66,000, this is no mass-market play, but its 204 pages every issue are filled with flawless editorial, luxury advertising, brand extensions and confidence in print. Revenue is rising; profitability arrived last year.”

No. 5: Vanity Fair
“Vanity Fair is enjoying its most profitable year yet thanks to growing ad pages, circulation, newsstand and digital revenue. While some magazines lean on bulk sales, sponsored sales and public-place copies, 99% of Vanity Fair’s subscriptions are paid for directly by the subscriber. It’s big on Hollywood, but just as long on essential reporting about the economy and businesses from News Corp. to Groupon.”

No. 4: Garden & Gun
“Another newcomer to the list, and another example of what niche publishing can do, Charleston-based Garden & Gun practically begged urban Northerners to joke about its unusual name when it launched in 2007. But the magazine that styles itself the “Soul of the South” looks like it will have the last laugh, with ad-page growth on a tear, circulation still climbing and a National Magazine Award for General Excellence.” Garden & Gun is a magazine that is shaped around the Southern way of life. This magazine helps create the idea of how to live an engaged life with the Southern surroundings.

No. 3: Food Network Magazine
The only magazine to make the list from 2010. The magazine launched in 2009 and has continued to grow and make a name for it. “Food Network magazine has grown from a test issue in October 2008 to a giant with paid circulation nearing 1.5 million and still seeking its cruising altitude. Food Network is back on the list after ad pages through October surged 13.8%, according to the Media Industry Newsletter, newsstand sales added 5% and total circulation grew 5.2%.”

No. 2: Time
For the first time in 20 years, Time stopped the press last week after the announcement of Steve Jobs passing, reworking the issue to be dedicated to him. “Challenges keep mounting for the news business in general, and for news weeklies in particular. So even if Time’s 16.1% newsstand gain reflected external events like the royal wedding, and even if its subscription growth had something to do with absorbing subscribers from U.S. News and World Report, we say there’s something to be said for having the strength, smarts and position to capitalize. Still a big, iconic print brand where readers turn when major news happens, Time was also recognized this year for digital excellence, suggesting it’s got a bright future too.”

The Magazine of the Year: Vogue
“It’s easier to grow when you’re new and relatively small, but when you’re this established and you grow anyway, you’re doing more than a few things right. Vogue increased its January-to-October ad pages more than 9% and boosted its big newsstand component almost 13% over the first half of last year, partly but not entirely on the strength of a great Lady Gaga cover in March. Its September issue killed again with 584 ad pages. And Vogue’s role off the page — most recently with the latest installment of Fashion’s Night Out — keeps expanding as well. Vogue is our Magazine of the Year.”

UK Snapshot

It is no secret that the recession stretches far beyond American soil, with many countries ailing from a slowed global economy facing stock market dips, rising commodity prices and large budget deficits. The United Kingdom is included in that struggling group (Unemployment 7.9%, Current Account Deficit -3.2%), hanging optimistically onto any sign of good news (the year-over-year numbers from 2009 never fail to elicit a touch of hope), but as we know is true here in United States, life forges on.

Similar to the United States, discretionary spending habits have shifted, and purse strings have tightened, but money continues to be spent soaking in media from all angles. (Will this ever change?)

Year-over-year from Q2’09, media expenditure in the UK was up 300M GBP after Q2’11, with increased spending in television and online, naturally, with decreased spending against in press and direct mail. Out of home is flat, as is radio.

From Q1’11, TV spend is up 8% (£1,091,634,635 total spend in Q2’11) and online spend is up 31% (£198,970,465 total spend in Q2’11). This could very well be due to increased spending against The Royal Wedding, named “the largest UK TV event of this millennium.” The wedding received a 28.1 ranking against ABC1 adults on BBC1 and a 6.1 ranking on ITV1. Other television happenings included the beginning of another season of “Britain’s Got Talent,” and the conclusion of the English football season.

The Royal Wedding provided the same boost for the national press with 60 million newspapers sold in a week, though this still wasn’t enough– overall Q2 circulation numbers were down 6% against both Dailies and Sundays year-over-year.

In the world of digital press, Future UK, the number one licensor and exporter of monthly magazines in the UK has seen revenue growth of over 10% a month in the past year. The Times and Sunday Times recently announced that 100,000 people are now paying to read the titles online, and growing. The Sunday times has seen an 89% increase in the three-month average of uniques from Q2’10.

The magazine landscape has been far more tumultuous, with the combined Q1-2 circulation down to 41.3 million magazines circulated versus 61 million in 2010. And what a difference 6 months makes—TV Listings magazines are down 71.1% from Q3-4’10 and Teenage titles down 35.7%. Women’s lifestyle magazines have fared the best, down only 1.8%.

Rounding things out, online video was identified as one of the key investment channels of Q2 with the IAB reporting that 28% of marketers intend to spend more money in this area in 2011; this is unsurprising considering the Nielsen Video Census 2011 shows that the UK watches 6.3 billion minutes of online video each month. Google released statistics reporting that 48 hours of YouTube video are viewed every minute—a 50% increase from Q2’10.