Monthly Archives: February 2012

Brand Building is in the Air and Love Could be Too


A new program at KLM Airlines lets ticketholders upload their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles along with their itinerary.  Based on their profiles, passengers pick whom they’d like to “meet and seat” with.  While admittedly, this program is not suited for the antisocial traveler, it has my attention.

I asked my Facebook friends about their opinion on this since many of them travel. One adventurous friend and avid traveler liked the idea while another who flies internationally often, said he hates when strangers try to chat on a flight.   Another predicted a future where flyers would never be willing to sit with a perfect stranger without giving their profiles a good once-over.

Using social media to meet people isn’t anything new. What is new however, is that airlines have found a creative way to personalize the flying experience.  By creating this new opt-in service, the airline benefits by getting additional information about you: the customer (a marketing gold mine).  And who knows, in turn, you could end up meeting the love of your life or a business contact that lands you the opportunity of a lifetime.

This is a smart way to use social media for building brand awareness and customer loyalty.  Instead of just ‘tossing their hat into the social media ring,’ and hoping it sticks, KLM is actually offering up a new experience for its customers.

This new service will give KLM an edge over other airlines with competitive ticket pricing. I see myself using it, but as I have a ridiculous fear of flying, I don’t imagine I would be much fun for the person sitting next to me. They would have to be willing to deal with intermittent arm clutching, demands for a window seat, frequent bathroom trips and offer up distractions during turbulence…any takers?


Follow me @saraalisia

Can Brands Blend in Among the Pinterest-Addicted?

Pinterest homepage

For those of you that haven’t yet experienced the glory and sheer child-like excitement that comes from “pinning” – creating a visual compellation of your favorite things, ideas and images on Pinterest (a online pinboard that allows users to collect, organize and share images they find on the web) I implore you: give it a try.

I, along with the other 10 million unique monthly visitors (primarily women in the 25-45 age bracket), take to the site daily to “pin” image content. It’s a great escape, it’s visually engaging and it’s an exercise in what a physiologist might call visualizing our “ideal” selves. Whatever you call it, one thing’s certain – Pinterest has some very addictive qualities.

Brands are starting to experiment in leveraging those addictive qualities (or web “stickiness”) as many weigh how best to attract Pintrest users to their products.

As a user of Pinterest and a PR / media professional, I see the potential of brands on Pinterest from both sides – as a user, I’m worried brands might invade my personal “pinning space.” As a PR professional, I see the platform’s potential to engage users around products and services they’re interested it – striking a balance will be a challenge.

A great MediaPost article today points to what I consider a great mantra for brands looking to engage on Pinterest, “It [Pinterest] is not a broadcast tool similar to Twitter and Facebook. It doesn’t encourage “product pushing.””

Agreed! While Pinterest could be a highly lucrative marketing vehicle for brands, it’s also become a sacred cow to users (and we all know what happens when you upset your user-base, ahemcough…Netflix).

Pinterest is a place for brands to engage followers by watching / learning about how users view their products. Brands that take the time to listen, learn and enter with caution will most certainly reap the reward.

— Marrissa (@marrissam)

Move over South Beach, Make Room for the Twitter Diet

It’s amazing how social media has made us willing to share personal details  — often with complete strangers.

Case in point: New York Times reporter Brian Stelter recently admitted on a Boston radio station that he, like most of us, fights a continuous battle to control his weight.  In 2010, he set an ambitious goal of losing 90 pounds.

But willpower alone wasn’t enough.  So friends, family and strangers following him on Twitter began receiving regular updates on every meal and snack Brian ate – along with a calorie count.  Now when Brian indulged in a few too many cookies, his followers let him have it.

That reinforcement was just what he needed.  After eight months, Brian lost the 90 pounds.  But then he made a mistake.  He stopped his regular food tweets and over the next year, 20 pounds he fought so hard to lose had returned.

So Brian’s daily diet is once more food for Twitter.  If he does “screw up,” his social media community is ready to come to the rescue again.

“I did feel I was revealing an awful lot, but I felt like I had to, because I felt I couldn’t accomplish the weight loss without doing it publicly,” he told radio station WGBH.

I’ve got to say I’m happy for Brian.  But I shudder to think of the next round of problems those we follow on Twitter may be willing to share.  Maybe Hillary (Clinton) was right – it takes a village.

BTW, if you want to help Brian keep the weight off, join his 3,000+ followers @brianstelter25.

– JD

Twitter: @Jdaum

Breaking News: How Traditional Media Will Keep Up

Breaking news is no longer “turn on the TV, I need to find out what everyone is talking about” type of event.

Nowadays, more and more people are getting their breaking news straight from Facebook and Twitter. But that’s not it. They are getting this information from accounts and handles that are NOT your traditional reporter or news outlet.

From friends and family members to the coincidental follower, news is breaking more often on Twitter than on standard news sites. Why is this? Well, there are two reasons.

One is the editorial procedure of confirming credible information and publicizing the news and the other is simply the mouthpiece that social media provides to ordinary citizens.

Now, if someone witnesses an event or hears a credible rumor, they do not have to call up a local news outlet to spread the word. It used to be that journalists and news outlets were the only resources large enough to publicize important information.

But now the playing field has leveled and traditional media is struggling to keep up.

So where do traditional reporters go from here?

The important thing to remember is that traditional media and most journalists possess a key element that ordinary social media users lack – credibility. Because of the frequency of rumors spread online, it is often hard to believe certain breaking news items unless it comes from a reputable source.

Therefore, traditional news outlets will always hold the upper hand. Which leads us to what ultimately will keep journalists and traditional media alive – rapid response infrastructure and tracking.

Ordinary citizens will break the news, reporters will have a pre-outlined procedure (and someday, software) to contact the initial source directly via social media and editors will immediately feature a Tweet or post across all platforms publicizing the verified content.

We predict that in the near future, more and more reporters will utilize this system and some companies will even offer training and software to enhance the practice.

Until then, what aspects of the rapid response infrastructure do you think are needed? Here are some of our suggestions:

Keyword tracking
Origin tracking
Comprehensive and integrated trending news ticker
User account verification software