I had a conversation with Randall Cross of Ethervision, a company focused on iPhone applications and web video optimization. Very interesting.


The reason I was interested in talking with him is that I believe (as does Randall) that there is a huge future in mobile computing. While we are still in the very early stages of development of this phenomenon, iPhone apps are simply pointing the way, an indicator of things to come (sort of like “Pong” was for the video game industry). I’m curious, and I like to keep a pulse on what’s going on out there. I wanted to hear what he had to say about the topic.


Here are some top-line takeaways from the conversation:


In case you don’t have an iPhone or live under a rock, there is an entire industry that has been created around apps—an industry of iPhone apps that has been exploded in the past two years. 


Is anyone making money at it? Well, yes, certainly there are the much-touted millionaires made overnight, with the top ten apps being downloaded 6,00-7,000 times per day…But that only represents a very small portion of the population of developers. Some never see a dime….but then there are those who are creating something of value, looking at the long-term returns instead of “one-hit wonders.”


“There’s an app for that.” There is an application for just about anything…with new ones being created all the time. Some are very simplistic and take only a few days to build. Others can take up to twelve months to create, because they are integrated with correlative websites and such.


Are there any limitations? Certainly. The iPhone does not have the processing speed (yet) to deal with complicated programming and 3D imaging. The key is to keep it simple; less detail is better.


How can advertisers leverage this phenomenon? Well, certainly, if you have a product or service that lends itself to an iPhone app, you could stand to make A LOT of money. But that’s not all you should be thinking about. You could sponsor an app that would be relevant to your target audience. See it as another way to build a brand impression.


It’s a world I will be following. Is it a fad? Is it here to stay? Is it only for the iPhone afficianado? Let me know what you think!


So today’s project is trying to find some great (current) examples of social media done right. I teach businesses about the necessary mindset for using Web 2.0 tools, and I have found that specific examples help them wrap their brains around a concept in a much more tangible manner.


So, who’s done a good job in engaging their consumer base in meaningful interaction that builds relationships and company value at the same time?


I’ll put this out there as a list to get some conversation started, but if you have others, I’m all ears:


  • Entertainment industry
  • Charity Tie-ins
  • Viral campaigns
  • Blogs
  • Video
  • iPhone Apps
  • kids campaigns
  • Mobile marketing


Tell me:


  • What did they do that was so interesting?
  • Why do you think it was so great ?
  • How did they do it (what elements did they use)?


You can post something here as a comment or send a tweet to @Rahna.




I’ve been focusing on on-line videos this week and thought I should share some of what I’ve discovered.


Here’s the bottom line: VIDEO MATTERS.


Whether you are a small business wanting to add a little mini-documentary video to your website or you are a large advertiser looking for new uncluttered channels on which to convey your message, on-line video is a rich area to explore.


If you’re a skeptic about the power of video, I have two words for you: Susan Boyle.


In case you missed it, Susan Boyle exploded onto the worldwide web in April as a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent. In the past two months, she has racked up over 100 million views — remember, the Super Bowl is viewed by something like 93 million! Suffice it to say, her life has been permanently altered by YouTube. And as we move forward, yours will be too.


In fact, it very likely already has been (especially if you are 18-34 years old). How many of you have seen amazing videos where men are bonding with lions or cats are hanging from ceiling fans? I’d bet a lot of money that the majority of you have. See my previous blog post for more quantitative info on trends and growth in on-line video.


Want another concrete example? Okay, a friend of mine is in charge of Digital Media & Marketing for Hyperion Books and spends her days leveraging the power of the internet to let people know about the wonderful books Hyperion publishes. Does she use video? You bet.


She recently worked with author Kelly Corrigan to develop a short but moving video on Transcending to promote the paperback release of her book The Middle Place. Upon posting the video, she and her team started to spread the word by sending an email to 50 of their interested friends. To date, the video has enjoyed over 4.4MM views and, more importantly, the book sat at #2 on the The New York Times Bestsellers List for many weeks. That’s low-cost, high-impact marketing. 


So what does this mean for you? As I said at the start of this article, video matters. Consider advertising on-line as a viable alternative, and develop a video strategy for your digital efforts. Do you have any video on your website and/or on other websites? You should consider what the benefits could be for you.


Video allows you to:

  • Discuss your topic with passion 
  • Take advantage of sight, sound, and motion
  • Engage with your audience more thoroughly
  • Show your thought-leadership
  • Develop your brand more distinctly
  • Entertain, inform and delight your consumers
  • Improve your SEO rankings


Here are a few tips:

  • Be really compelling: make sure the topic is relevant to your business
  • Be succinct: most people will willingly sit through an engaging one- or two-minute video
  • Be proprietary: embed the video on your own site
  • Optimize: pay attention to meta data and Google Video map details
  • Market your video: there are tons of video-sharing sites out there to post on
  • Spread the word: use other media (both digital and non-digital) to spread the word


Last week was a big week for Twitter. On Friday, April 17th, Oprah joined Twitter and sent her first tweet on national television. In addition, Ashton Kutcher got his millionth Twitter follower (beating out CNN). As a part of her show, Oprah had Ashton on as a (remote) guest, naming him the king of Twitter. The show represented a turning point for many social media proponents; they felt that social media had come of age and is now THE way to communicate…the only media worth considering.


Ashton talked about how media is now in the hands of the masses. You no longer have to wait to communicate. You can send messages out immediately to anyone willing to listen to you. In Ashton’s world, he appreciated being able to refute tabloid-type rumors right way, without having to go through a publicist or some other official spokes person.


There are those predicting that, like newspapers, all other media will soon be dead.


Hold on, there, Chief. Let’s take a moment to see who has gained these million followers…is it your Uncle Earl? No. It’s a celebrity, someone who reached stardom through that most traditional of all vehicles—TV! Yes, it’s another way to communicate, and there are definite marketing implications for anyone selling a product or service, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is still a primary place for “traditional” media. Social media is simply the toddler at the kids table at this point.


I’m not saying, “Don’t get a Twitter account.” I am on Twitter (@Rahna); follow me and we’ll talk tweet. I’m just saying, don’t eliminate your traditional media buy altogether.


Twitter isn’t “mainstream” yet—by any stretch of the imagination. The media is all abuzz about Twitter, and yes, tons of people are signing up all the time now, but a recent Harris Interactive research study showed that as of March 31st and April 1, only 5% of people are on Twitter.


TABLE 1 ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORK USAGE “Which of the following, if any, do you do?” Base: All Online Adults 

Total  Age Gender
18-34  35-44  45-54  55+  Male  Female 
% % %
Have a Facebook or MySpace account  48  74  47  41  24  45  52 
Update Facebook or MySpace account at least once a day  16  29  17  10  14  18 
· Follow people on Twitter 
· Use Twitter to send messages 
None of these  51  25  50  59  76  54  47` 


In the end, it all comes back to strategies for reaching your core target audience. If you are trying to reach the 18-34 year old, you better get a social media strategy in place, because according to this Harris Interactive research study, three-quarters of that audience has some sort of social media presence (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc). But if your target is the aging Baby Boomer, less than 25% have a social media presence.



If you need to better understand the potential power of social media, just go ask Susan Boyle, a woman who’s become an worldwide sensation by appearing on the talent search show Britain’s Got Talent. All of Britain fell in love with her during the appearance, but it’s the internet that really catapulted her into super-stardom. In a matter of days, she has become an international media darling. Let’s examine the ingredients of the recipe for success. Susan Doyle is:


Talented: She truly has a gift. If you’ve watched the clip, you know she has an amazing voice that is worthy of all the buzz.


Unique: Her cheeky personal brand is endearing to people. The juxtaposition of her quirky looks and mannerisms with that rich voice startles and delights people in a lovely ways…we’re not used to hearing about people who are “gobsmacked.


On-line: The secret sauce created by email, YouTube, and Twitter has resulted in media appearances, coveted brand exposure, and worldwide reknown. 


What about you? Are you talented, unique, and on-line? 


I already know the answer to the first two: yes


Everyone has special talents to bring to their world, unique contributions to give. Realize that it wasn’t just her singing voice that delighted us. It was her quirky demeanor, the endearing vulnerability of admitting she’d never been kissed and her flippant responses to Simon Cowell that compels us to love her….In other words, it is her—her life experiences and personality that draw us in. 


The last question (whether you are an individual or a corporate brand) is, “Are you on-line?” 


If you’re not, wake up to the twenty-first century. Get engaged in the digital world—sign up for a Twitter account, post a YouTube video—do something! Those who contribute to the digital world benefit from its rich rewards.


I attended a workshop last week at the Simsbury Library, where Suzi Craig was talking about social media. It’s a topic I’m always interested in, and I always learn some little thing that I didn’t know before…. But sometimes what you learned has nothing to do with the topic presented. Such was the case for me.


Start With The Strategy 


First, the mass of confusion surrounding social media continues to beg for a strong sense of strategy to be brought to every digital media discussion. Why are you thinking about engaging in social media? What are your objectives? Answering these two questions will drastically simplify any further conversation with any social media expert.


Understand Your Audience.


She told the audience that she had sent a “tweet” out to her followers:


hey Twitterverse: talking Tweets, Posts and more with Simsbury CT crowd. If you’re out there give us more cowbell at: #simsburycowbell


She was asking for people to send a tweet back to her so that, as she displayed her Tweet Deck on screen, messages directly to the audience would appear. The audience of mostly 40- 80-year-olds had been struggling all night to wrap their brains around the basic concept of Twitter…. and now, when she started talking about “cowbell,” the audience collectively cocked its head, puzzled, and asked “Cowbell?” One brave soul raised a hand and asked, “Is cowbell some kind of Twitter phrase?”


For the few in the audience who understood this classic Will Ferrell-era Saturday Night Live reference, this comment was comical. The presenter tried to explain her meaning and then deftly turned to the misunderstanding into an opportunity to have the novice audience learn how to use YouTube by giving a homework assignment: “You need to go home and search YouTube in order to find the referenced clip (when I went to YouTube, I found that the clip has been taken off!).


So what’s the lesson?


Remember your audience. 


When you are with a theater full of octogenarians, you can talk about the 1950s in a very different way then you could with a general I audience. For one, the 1950s constitute the past–is in history, something to be studied, and for the other, it constitutes their past. As a marketer, you need to speak to your audience in a way that resonates with them.


And by the way, if you don’t understand the cowbell reference, follow the links I have provided for a cultural education, Saturday Night Live-style.



I just have to post this….


This tweet about a comment over heard by Twitter user Avinash Kaushik, (“Web Analytics: An Hour A Day” author and Google analytics proponent) simply must be commented upon!


Social media is like teen sexEveryone wants to do it. No one actually knows how. When finally done, there is surprise it’s not better.”


While it made me laugh out loud, I think the analogy is completely apropos. Social media takes time to master; finesse only comes with practice. You must have patience, dedicate time and effort to knowing how to handle it, and focus on how to get something out of it that works for YOU (either from a personal perspective or from a professional point of view).


I don’t’ think the Twitter or Facebook investors need to worry about it too much….Everyone I know who has ever had sex actually did try it a second time, and eventually learned how to do properly, eventually growing to appreciate it immensely. I think that social media is a safe bet for both individuals and companies alike!


I gave a talk a few weeks ago about the Top Ten Secrets of Digital Brandingwhich was then written up in the local newspaper (follow the hyperlink to see the full article).


I want to clarify something pointed out in the article that may be misleading. Many of the people in attendance were not very knowledgeable about the blogosphere and had some questions about why they should blog and how commenting works. In the article, I am quoted as saying that you can edit the comments and pick and choose which ones get posted. While that is technically true, I want to be clear that I do not think that you should only publish positive comments. In general, you should publish all comments, as long as they are relevant to the discussion. The article is not clear that I was talking about spam comments or something off-color or outright offensive. Those are the ones that should be screened.


If you missed the talk but would like to have the information, check out our new FREE downloadable e-book on the Top Ten Secrets of Digital Branding.




I gave a talk today on Top Secrets of Digital Branding, kind of a Digital Marketing 101 course that covered the basics of various on-line and e-mail marketing strategies. It reinforced to me how wide the world is and how varied the world is. 


I am in a unique position where I work with both large corporations and small businesses. In the past, I have found that the marketing tactics of each are completely unique—large corporations using “traditional” vehicles like TV, newspaper, and print, while small businesses get the most out of guerilla marketing tactics like direct mail, windshield flyers and word of mouth campaigns. Of course, the internet has changed all that, and now, small businesses are able to leverage digital marketing opportunities in amazing ways. I have found, actually, that in many cases, small businesses are much more savvy about digital marketing and branding opportunities than large corporations. The big players are just now turning to the internet to see what it has to offer in the way of low-cost, high-touch marketing and branding opportunities.


But that wasn’t the case in this room. It was interesting to see the reaction of the audience. There were some people who were very knowledgeable about the digital world, some web designers who obviously know a lot about all things digital. However, most of the people there, although they have the website, really aren’t up to speed on all that the social media world has to offer. I tried to give tips and basic information on website content management, search engine optimization, blogging, social media sites, book marking sites, email marketing, and any other digital marketing tool you could imagine. The audience members, while taking notes furiously, also looked like they’d been drinking through a fire hose.


So many business people are starting to explore this new digital world. Some are puzzled, some are frightened, and some just have that “deer-in-the-headlights” look. All of the advances and changes and opportunities in the digital world, when we try to take it all at once, can seem completely overwhelming. 


My advice to them (and to you, dear reader) is to jump in–get started. Just do something. You don’t have to be an expert in everything, but you should at least find out about and get started on advances in digital marketing. There are so many low-cost opportunities out there for anyone who wants to market anything that it behooves you to at least explore the options.


I’m in the industry and I know I don’t know everything. As a matter of fact, there’s a lot I don’t know. I do an email newsletter, I blog (obviously) and I contribute to other websites. I engage in electronic PR.  I have a Twitter account, but I don’t tweet…although, perhaps that is something that I’ll start to do more of this year as a part of my New Year’s resolutions. I think I’ll go take my own advice…..What about you? What digital programs are you taking advantage of? What are you scared of? Let me know and we’ll figure it out together!