Monthly Archives: May 2012

Romney’s iPhone App Misspells America

It’s happened to almost all of us.  We’ve typed or spelled a word wrong on our computer or mobile device, and thanks to technology, our auto correct most likely fixed it immediately.  Tuesday night Mitt Romney launched an official iPhone app with a misspelling that somehow got past spell check, auto correct and every person who edited it.  And unfortunately for him, it’s one of the worst words that he could’ve possibly spelled wrong.

The app allows people to customize their photos by laying a variety of “I’m With Mitt” banners over the images.  Each banner shouts slogans like “I Stand With Mitt” or “Obama Isn’t Working.”  One of the 14 banners on the app reads “A Better Amercia.”  Yes, Amercia.  A-M-E-R-C-I-A.

Thanks to technology and the Internet, Romney’s little spelling mistake has become a huge embarrassment for his campaign.  Within hours of the app’s release, journalists, comedians and Obama supporters were having a field day on Twitter.  On DemocraticUnderground.com, people are posting photos with the banner over photos that make fun of the Republican Party.  Below are several examples:

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“We thought this would be a fun, easy way to showcase support,” Romney’s digital director Zac Moffatt told Mashable.com when asked about the launch of the app.  Unfortunately for Romney, the fun is being had at his expense right now.

No political candidate can deny that the Internet, and more specifically social media, plays a huge role in campaigns today.  It is crucial when it comes to reaching out to people, delivering messages and interacting with voters.  According to a recent study from the E-Voter Institute, 80% of U.S. citizens who consider themselves to be occasionally or very active in politics have an account with at least one social network.  The ability to reach so many supporters and potential voters at once is something that recent political figures have taken full advantage of.  President Obama currently has over 16 million followers on Twitter and he tweets several times a day.

Back in the 60′s a political commentator once said: “Show me a modern political candidate who doesn’t understand television, and I’ll show you a loser.” Today the word “television” can be replaced with “social media.”  It is an important tool that can help political candidates greatly.  But if you happen to be a public figure and you make one mistake, as Romney has learned, it can also become your worst enemy.  Your silly little mistake is suddenly not so small, and social media is not going to let it be forgotten that quickly.

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New Facebook Feature Gives Advertisers Something to “Like”

Facebook has just introduced a new analytics feature that is sure to make advertisers happy.  It will provide brands with a percentage of fans who saw and liked their posts and will also include a breakdown that lets them know whether a “like” was reached organically or through a viral promotion.

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This new feature will help brand page administrators to understand what works and what doesn’t.  Until this point, when brands posted messages on Facebook, there was no way to get an exact number of how many people actually saw each one. Back in March Facebook revealed that the average post from a brand page only reaches 16% of fans.  My guess is that this is largely due to the fact that new messages have a very short life.  With the rapid rate that others post at, your message is likely to only be seen by people who happen to be online and looking at their screens at that moment.

So far brand pages are the only ones that the feature applies to. It is available for the older-style pages as well as the newer timelines- for now.  Facebook has already said that “we are slowly rolling this back to page owners with a slightly updated design.”  My guess is that it won’t be long before the feature is limited to the “updated design,” better known as the timeline that is slowly taking over the site.

It comes as part of the post-IPO pressure that the company is facing to monetize its huge reach for advertising purposes.  GM’s well-timed blow, which involved the company pulling its entire $10 million ad budget from Facebook just days before the IPO, has undoubtedly pressured the social network to prove that it can perform.  I expect to see more tools providing analytics to advertisers who want to track their ROI across the social network coming in the near future.

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Why Your Company Should Be Blogging

Does your business blog?  If not, you might want to consider it before you get left behind.  From 2009 to 2011 the percentage of businesses with a blog grew from 48% to 65%.  With 85% of those businesses using the words “useful,” “important” or “critical” to describe their blog, I expect that percentage to continue growing.

There are many good reasons for your business to be blogging, and they go way beyond SEO.  Don’t just blog so that more visitors will be sent by Google to your website.  Do it for the following reasons as well:

  • It forces you to stay up-to-date with news and technology.
  • You’re an expert in your industry, so why not establish yourself as one?
  • It can help you answer customers’ questions more easily.
  • It can help you explain things more clearly.
  • It humanizes the company- people will feel like they know you and be more comfortable.
  • It enhances visibility- consider it free or inexpensive advertising.
  • If you have been criticized, you can defend yourself.
  • You will learn about your customers and what they want through blog comments.
  • It will direct targeted traffic to your website.

The overall reason you should be blogging is because you have a lot to gain from it.  It’s a cost-effective way to expose your business to existing customers and gain new ones.

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Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Last week this summer’s “On the Ave” event kicked off with a circus theme, so Jeremy and I walked down the street to check it out. There were circus performers spread out throughout the streets, walking on stilts, dancing with fire, making balloon hats and bending their bodies in ways that just look painful. I haven’t been to the circus in years (and I don’t support them because I don’t believe in the animal cruelty that takes place at them). Luckily I saw no poor animals and I was having a blast. I felt like a little kid and wanted Jeremy, who is not quite as giddy and immature as me, to feel the same way. I decided that he should get his face painted. Being the great, easygoing boyfriend that he is, he agreed after I promised to do it too. And he could pick what was going to be painted on my face.  Sure, why not? I love being outrageous as much as possible.

Fifteen minutes later we were painted like little black cats and continued down the Ave. I had read that there was going to be a trapeze that you could pay and sign up to try. We came across it and I got a little knot in my stomach. I’ve always wanted to swing on one but I’m aeroacrophobic, or absolutely terrified of heights. This is something that definitely began in my adult life.  As a child I’d climb to the top of trees or jump off the roof into the pool with no fear.  Now I don’t even like climbing on the kitchen counter to reach something on the top shelf, so was I really going to climb this crazy ladder onto a little platform with no rails and then jump?

I guess I love trying new things and taking up on opportunities a little more than I’m afraid of heights. How many times is there going to be a trapeze in front of me that I can swing from for only $20? YOLO.

“What am I afraid of?  Getting hurt?  Dying?” I asked myself.  “What are the odds? You’ll regret not doing it.”  I’ve told myself this many times, before I zip-lined and jumped off cliffs in Jamaica and before I did the bungee free-fall at Six Flags.  I have accepted that while I may never overcome my fear of heights, I can at least make myself stronger than it for a few minutes.  Experience something new.  Say I did it.  Get the adrenaline pumping.  There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes after completing something that scares you.  I love it.

I signed my life away, strapped on the belt, told Jeremy to take lots of pictures and climbed the ladder without looking back (or down).  The worst part was the few seconds where I had to bend my knees and lean over the edge of the platform.  But once I was flying, I let go of all fear and made it the best experience possible.  I figured that I was already painted like a cat and flying on a trapeze, so why not hang from my knees and do a flip as well?  I’m glad to say that I can cross that one off my bucket list.

“On the Ave” events take place throughout the summer on selected Thursdays from 6-10 p.m. Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach is blocked off to traffic and replaced with live music, open house specials, gallery exhibitions and other fun little things to take in.

What Email Marketing Does That Social Media Can’t

ImageThe picture above is my cat, Penelope.  As you can see, she’s a huge fan of social media (particularly YouTube).  She may not be able to type, but she enjoys hissing and making chirping sounds at her cat and bird friends online.

With online marketing methods such as social media rapidly growing more popular recently, some have been quick to declare email marketing dead.  That declaration cannot be more wrong, and some of these people may end up kicking themselves for undervaluing it.  Evidence that email marketing is alive and still necessary lies in numbers and the benefits that only it offers.

While social media is an important method that is not to be ignored, one of its biggest disadvantages is that it is not as clean, targeted and direct as email marketing.    Here are some of the ways that social media cannot even compare:

Email lists are easily segmented.  You can post a message on social media, and everyone will receive the same thing whether they’re interested or not.  There are no one-size-fits all customers, so luckily email allows you to segment and send the right messages to the right audience.  If people are actually interested in the emails you send them, they will welcome them, reducing unsubscribes and raising conversion rates.

There’s proof in numbers.  You can post a message on Facebook or Twitter, but there is no way of knowing how many friends or followers will actually see it.  Not only do email lists usually have an audience larger than a typical list of friends or followers, but it is possible to see the number of times your email was viewed and clicked, as well as the percentage that didn’t make it to a reader.

Email continues to provide the highest ROI.  It requires very little time and money to send a targeted email to a specific group of customers.  Top marketers have been surveyed and studied many times throughout the growth of social media, and the results always prove that email marketing still returns the greatest return on investment.

Social networks fade, email is forever.  How often do you still check your MySpace?  Have you ever neglected Facebook in favor of Twitter, or vice versa?  Unlike social media, where people migrate from one trendy network to another, email addresses rarely change.  People may create a secondary email address and use their older one less often, but they are still likely to check it from time to time.

It’s a one-on-one conversation. Social media is a dialogue.  A single post suddenly turns into a group conversation with dozens of responses, and sometimes nobody even buys anything.  With email, all you have to do is send a message directly.  Unless the customer is buying something, or has a question before making a purchase, you don’t have to spend another minute taking further action.  Just send and move on with your day.

Longer visibility.  On Twitter and Facebook, new messages have a very short life due to the rapid rate that others tweet and post.  Your post is likely to only be seen by people who happen to be online and looking at their screens at that moment.  An email remains visible and available in an inbox until the user chooses to open and read it.

With that said, social media is still an important marketing strategy that should not be ignored.  But while you are posting and tweeting, let’s not forget that it is important to continue building your email lists as well.

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If you happen to be going to Japan…

Japan was the most amazingly weird place I have ever been.  Totally worth the 21 hour solo flight around the world and $4,000 credit card debt that took almost a year to pay off (I underestimated the value of the yen vs. the U.S. dollar- oops).  Here is an overview of some random thoughts I jotted down throughout the trip, before I forgot anything.

-Go to the pet stores- they sell monkeys, kangaroos and other exoticness there.

-Ride the Shinkansen (bullet trains that travel up to 186 mph).  Recline all the way and enjoy the wi-fi.

-Check out a baseball game. Weird but awesome.

-Watch a game show on TV.  I had no idea what they were saying, but they looked so happy that it made me feel happy.

-Sing karaoke!!! Use the tambourines!

-Go to an onsen. Outdoor ones are better.  Bring your own towel.

-Eat the pastries and  ice cream.  Try the crazy flavors (tofu, curry, sesame, sweet potato, wasabi to name a few).

-Eat ramen.

-Eat udon.

-Eat yakitori.

-Eat oni nomi naki.

-Eat at a conveyor sushi place.

-Eat tako yaki from the street vendors (extra great when you’re drunk!)

-Sakuraniku= raw horse meat.  Just know that before you order.

-Check out the Don Quixote store. It’s like Wal-Mart on acid. You can buy toilet paper, whiskey and a kangaroo at the same check-out counter.

-Clubs have lockers in them.

-Kids typically speak better English than adults.  Ask them for help/directions.

Kyoto

-Shrines and temples on every street

-Go to the monkey park. Take the  hike and feed the monkeys at the top. Also a great view of the city.

-Check out the Gion district.  Lots of cool temples, shopping, and this is where you could see a real geisha.  They come out at night.

-The subway system is mostly hidden/non-existent. Unless you figure out the secret, the bus is the best way to get around.

Tokyo

-Party in Shibuya. Lots of great little bars and clubs.

Club Womb supposedly has the biggest disco ball in a club, but you’ve gotta like heavy house music to enjoy it.

-Great shopping in Shibuya as well as Harajuku.

Takeshita Dori: this is where the Harajuku girls hang out. BEST. PEOPLE WATCHING. EVER.

-Omotensando Hills: great street in Harajuku for high end shopping and awesome boutiques (birdbath rings!)

-Don’t bother with the Imperial Palace. Nice gardens, but you can’t even see the palace because there are huge walls around it.

Nagoya

-Check out Nagoya Castle and the park just north of it.

-Shop in Sakae and Aeon for nice stuff and Osu Kannon for cheap souvenirs.

-Takashimaya (in Nagoya Station) also is a great department store. They randomly have the Vivienne Westwood wedding dress that Carrie Bradshaw wore.

-Check out the Osu Kannon Temple.  Watch out for the thousands of pigeons who are not afraid to mob humans with food.

-Club id in Sakae- five-stories and ran by an American. His name is Thomas.

-Don’t waste your money at the aquarium at Nagoyako (Nagoya port). The ones in Osaka and Okinawa are supposedly much better.

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Here I Am

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I am Casey Kurlander.

Search marketer, bartender, yogi, lover, humanitarian, blogger for 10 years and now a professional blogger.

It occurred to me just yesterday that I have been blogging since high school and can now call myself a professional.  I’ve been writing articles for my boss, a search marketing expert, the last few weeks and he posted one on the company’s blog yesterday.  I am now a professional blogger. After finishing this post I will add that to the resume.

I have been blogging since I was 17 years old and I didn’t even know it.  I joined LiveJournal back in 11th grade because not enough of my friends had caught on to the MySpace craze to have any fun with it and I lacked the college email address that was required at the time to join Facebook.  I turned to writing my thoughts in an online journal, and I have always thought of it as just that, an online journal. A place to write about my thoughts, ideas and experiences whenever I felt like it.   I’ve read hundreds of other blogs over the last decade, but never once thought of mine as one.  Probably because I never wrote with the intention of other people reading it.  Blogs are meant to have followers, likers and commenters, right?  My online journal is extremely personal, and I have given out the link less times than Elizabeth Taylor has been married.  I update it every few months, and yesterday I decided to give it a little face lift.  I changed the template and when I saw the results I realized something: it looks like a blog.

Wait, I have a blog?  I’m a blogger?  Was the term “blogger” even around when I started this LiveJournal back in 2002, because I’m pretty sure I had never heard it then.

So here I am, 10 years later, officially joining the 156 million+ bloggers out there.  Even though I could have considered myself one years ago, I feel like I’ve just begun a new journey.  I’m leaving my LiveJournal entries- unedited, personal, and sometimes embarassing- private for now and starting fresh.  Deep breath.  Here we go.

Casey Kurlander, Search marketing Specialist, BMI Elite