Multicultural Marketing Blog: GM’s Media Outreach to African Americans Comes Under Fire.

Target Market News, a Chicago-based research company published data that showed that African-American consumers spent approximately $2.8 billion on new General Motors cars in 2009. General Motors appeared to be a big hit for African Americans who bought new cars.

The flip side of that data is about GM’s spend on reaching the African American population. According to unnamed national sources, it appears that General Motors only spent $29.9 million or 2.4% of its approximately billion dollar marketing budget on black media advertising.

So I get why “experts” are baffled over the almost insignificant spend by General Motors in reaching an audience that is clearly engaged with their brand.

But what baffles me is how GM’s negligible spend towards reaching the African American audience through black-focused media can “border on being criminal” or be “malignant”. Those are the words used by Danny Bakewell, chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Mr Bakewell wants to confront the automotive industry about their so called “imbalance”. Oh brother!

Is GM taking the African-American population for granted? Perhaps!

  • Or perhaps GM’s marketing team felt that they are doing well enough in the African American market segment and decided to spend more money on attracting an audience that is not so enamored with GM vehicles.
     
  • Maybe GM’s team wasn’t really tracking their marketing spend by ethnic marketing segments?
     
  • Or it could very well be that GM’s marketing team is taking more of their spend online and thus cutting spend across other segments.

I didn’t see any data that showed a comparison of % spent on Indian Americans or Asians or Women to know if the imbalance is towards one ethnic community or all. Data could very well show that GM’s doing pretty well marketing to the African American population and is doing really bad target marketing to Indian Americans. I know for a fact that Indian Americans prefer foreign cars for more reasons that one. Knowing the Indian American market segment and knowing what I know about GM, I would venture a guess that GM doesn’t spend any real marketing dollars on attracting the Indian American population. But then again, I could be completely wrong and perhaps GM is spending a ton of money trying to attract a population that is more interested in driving a BMW or a Lexus.

So what's my point?

In my humble opinion, GM’s lack of marketing spend to target market to African Americans is not a race issue or bias against African Americans. It also is in no way unethical nor is it a moral issue as is being made out by Mr. Bakewell. GM and other companies should be able to spend their marketing dollars where they want to spend. They have to know where they will get their biggest bang and if they don’t the loss is certainly theirs.  I mean, where do we draw the line at dictating what a company should do and not do? Government Motors or not, GM still has the onus of making decisions for itself.

Love to hear your comments if you don't agree with me.

Social Media Marketing Blog: New Terminology for the New Media Age!

“Unfriend” is a real word now; the New Oxford American Dictionary has “Unfriend” picked it’s 2009 word of the year.

If you play on any social media sites, “Unfriend” has a pretty clear-cut meaning; i.e. to remove someone as a friend. So now you can use “Unfriend” in sentences like “I’m going to unfriend so & so cause he is too nosy” OR “I decided to unfriend all work colleagues cause….”.

Personally I think the New Oxford American Dictionary should have chosen “Intexticated” as the 2009 word of the year. Intexticated means texting while driving (like intoxicated if you still didn’t get it).  I think Intexticated is SO apt and by creating more awareness about it, we can all start de-intexticating!

Social Media Marketing Blog: Evolving Social Media Trends

Corporations will expand social media spend

Did you see Best Buy’s Twitter presence (http://twitter.com/twelpforce)? It leverages their employees to provide collective customer support on Twitter. It’s a cool way for a corporation to participate and still keep track of what their employees are saying on the social networks. Social media is scalable and is a good way for companies to connect with their audience. This trend will grow rapidly as companies uncover ways to manage online content while leveraging it fully.

Social Media promotions will grow fast and furious

There are a lot of sites offering incentives to people for participating and for spreading the word. Retailers will increase their online promotions as they are doing for the upcoming holiday season. Email coupons, free shipping, exclusive online prices, etc. are all expected to grow. And it couldn’t happen fast enough for people like me who want everything “online”.

Going Mobile with Social Media

I do more texting than before. I also find I do more “short” emails from my mobile phone as I try to keep up with my ever growing email box. Since everyone has a smart phone and since many smart phones provide the ability to broadcast to various popular networks, mobile social media will grow faster than any other technological trend.  This also means we can all look forward to more technologically advanced phones than ever before.

(I also think that smart phones would be a great work-around to remain connected for employees of companies who may still block access to social media sites in 2010.)

Social Media Marketing Blog: Creating Ambassadors for your brand

My kids think that this ad describes me perfectly:

But then what do they know about the power of tweeting. Let me share just a few simple examples:

After visiting a restaurant, when I share any photos taken there; my “friends” on Facebook and Twitter want to know more about the name and location of the restaurant. Some even let me know that they also enjoyed the restaurant thanking me for the recommendation.
 
Recently, I raved about Priceline.com’s customer friendly service after a hotel room purchase when one of their participating hotels wasn’t being quite as cooperative. After the tweet, numerous friends asked me questions like how often I use Priceline, wasn’t I scared about not getting what I wanted, etc. etc. I told each one of them how successful I was at getting great deals on hotels and car rentals.

Still not convinced social media marketing is for you? Then let me tell you what you are missing out on:

Conversations about you AND good or bad experience sharing about you. If you don’t monitor those conversations, how will you know how to proactively improve what’s broken on not working and spread the news about things that are working?

Get engaged today! Don’t worry if the kids make fun of you; social media websites are here to help you grow your brand and customer base.

Social Media Marketing Blog: The Pope going Digital? Google & Facebook at the Vatican!!!!

Say what?

Holy Cow! The Vatican will have some big dog visitors this week; Facebook and Google executives who will talk to the Vatican about spreading the church’s message using digital marketing.

Google, Facebook, Youtube, and Wikipedia representatives will share the importance of using digital media to spread the Vatican’s message in a four day conference at the Vatican.

Social Media Blog: Billions lost in productivity from Social Media (Twitter & Facebook) Usage

Yes, BILLIONS! 
 
A recent study in U.K. has shown that there’s a huge impact on productivity (or lack thereof) when employees use Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites while at work.
 
London-based Morse PLC, an IT services and technology company surveyed 1,460 office workers and found that 57% use social networking while at work, but not for work. Yep, they confessed that they were using social networks for personal reasons at least 40 minutes per day.
 
Another study conducted by Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing firm, showed that 54% of US companies have banned sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Myspace.
 
So here’s my devil’s advocate viewpoint on this:  

  • Say a cigarette smoker spends 10 minutes on each cigarette break. If you assume conservatively that they are taking an average of three cigarette breaks a day; that’s 30 minutes per day on cigarette smoking.
  • How many coffee and water-cooler breaks do employees take in a given day? Again, conservatively let’s assume three breaks for 10 minutes each, which equates to another 30 minutes.
  • What if the cigarette smoker is also the one taking coffee breaks?

But I won’t go there! You get the point.

But what if….. 

  • What if companies educate and train each and every one of their employees to become brand promoters on the various social networks?
  • What if every employee is empowered to spend NO more than one hour online every single day with the mission to promote the brand of the company they work for?

Radical thinking? Not So! Remember what Social Media gives us; the power of the people?
 
Well, corporate decision makers; think of the power of 300 employees tweeting POSITIVELY about your brand, services, and / or products? Or 3000 employees who visit their Facebook page also rave about how fun it is to work for xyz company?

 
Yes, it would require some coordination; ok I admit; it will require a lot of coordination. And yes, it will require hand-slapping those who don’t toe the line. But overall; this is NOT MISSION IMPOSSIBLE!
 
(Oh and do call me if/when you need help implementing this strategy. I can help, promise!) 

Social Media Blog: World’s Top Country Brand – GO USA!

The USA topped the 5th annual Country Brand Index (CBI) for the 1st time ever. The USA beat Australia to earn the world’s number one position as the “top country brand”. The remaining countries making up the top 10 list are: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain.

If President Obama is the reason for this brand recognition, then so be it; we’ll take it any way we get it and will try to hold on to it in 2010.

I was confused why USA didn’t win the top position for or even make it in the top five for “Best Country Brand for Political Freedom”. The 2008 elections were as diverse as any could be resulting in the election of the 1st African American President for the US.

Other highlights of the CBI are as follows:

 

	Best Country Brand        					United States, Singapore, Japan, Germany,Canada
	 Ideal for Business
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand             				Australia, Japan, Italy, United States,
	 to Extend a                                					New Zealand
	 Business Trip
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand              				Italy, France, India, Japan, Greece
	 for Art & Culture
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand              				Japan, India, Peru, Cambodia, Bhutan
	 for Authenticity
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand           				Tahiti, Bermuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bahamas
	 for Beach
	---------------------    	 					-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand         				Canada, Australia, United States, New Zealand,
	 for Families                               						Portugal
	---------------------    	 					-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand                				Egypt, India, Peru, Israel, Italy
	 for History
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand         				Canada, Tahiti, Bahamas, United States, Mexico
	 for Resort &
	 Lodging Options
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand          				Tahiti, Costa Rica, Canada, New Zealand, Fiji
	 for Natural Beauty
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand          				Japan, United Kingdom, United States, Brazil,
	 for Nightlife                               						Thailand
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand           				France, Italy, Japan, Argentina, Singapore
	 for Fine Dining
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand          				Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Canada,
	 for Outdoor                                  						Aruba
	 Activities & Sports
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand             				Tahiti, Barbados, Aruba, Fiji, Bahamas
	 for Rest &
	 Relaxation
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand          				Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Bermuda
	 for Safety
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand             				Singapore, United States, Japan, UAE,
	 for Shopping                             					United Kingdom
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand           				India, Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, Bulgaria
	 for Value for Money
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand          				Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland,
	 You Would Most Like                      					United States
	 to Live In
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand          				Germany, Ireland, Canada, Singapore, Bermuda
	 for Ease of Travel
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand           				Germany, Canada, Japan, Finland, Singapore
	 for Standard of
	 Living
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand          				Canada, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom,
	 for Political                            							New Zealand
	 Freedom
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand           				Japan, Germany, United States, Singapore,
	 for Advanced                             					United Kingdom
	 Technology
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand            				Japan, United States, Germany, Finland,
	 for Quality Products                      						Switzerland
	---------------------    						------------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand        					Finland, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, Iceland
	 for Environmentalism
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand            				Fiji, Ireland, Aruba, Thailand, Bermuda
	 for Friendly Locals
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand             				Singapore, United States, Canada,
	 Easiest to Do                      					United Kingdom, Germany
	 Business In
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand            				Japan, Germany, Singapore, United States,
	 for Conferences                          					United Kingdom
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best New Country for        				Japan, United States, United Kingdom, India,
	 Business                                   				Singapore
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------
	Best Country Brand           				Australia, New Zealand, Maldives, Tahiti,
	 You Desire to Visit                     					United States
	 / Visit Again
	---------------------     						-----------------------------------------------

Courtesy: 

http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/prnewswire/200911060400PR_NEWS_USPR_____NY03710.htm

Social Media Blog: How are businesses using Social Media in the workplace?

Business.com did a study of about 3000 professionals to find out how they are using social media. What’d they find?

  • Webinars and Podcasts were the most popular social media resources for business professionals (69% of the users who participated in the study relied on webinars and podcasts or business information).

    Nipa editorial comment: Makes sense; fast information, readily available; interactive.

  • Most popular social network? Facebook where 83% of the respondents maintain one or more profiles compared to only 45% who maintain profiles on Twitter

    Nipa editorial comment: Twitter didn’t make the list; again not surprising but I’m sure Twitter founders didn’t like these results.

  • These business professionals don’t like the thought about companies restricting access to social networks like Facebook and Twitter

    Nipa editorial comment: Now didn’t I just talk about this in a recent blog? Banning Twitter & Facebook instead of educating the users and training them to promote the company online is just foolhardiness. Yes, security concerns are valid but you know what; they can be managed with planning and foresight.

  • More than two-thirds of companies studied mentioned that brand awareness and brand reputation management would be considered metrics to measure success on social media websites.

There were other findings and if you really really really want to learn the nitty-gritty; go to: www.business.com and read more.

Final Nipa editorial comment: I’m always excited to read about studies and then my excitement dies down when a study simply validates data that is well-known.

LOVE IT! Peace on Earth, the Facebook way!

Facebook has launched Peace Dot which shows connections between Facebook users across conflict zones such as India-Pakistan, Greece-Turkey, Israel-Palestine, etc. Basically it is a site that contains links and information centered on the topic of “World Peace”.

I think that Facebook and Stanford are on to something here. I agree with their thought process that conflict can be resolved when people begin to get to know each other and work towards a common goal. World Peace will hopefully no longer be a cliché used by pageant contestants in a few years.

I am optimistic that I’ll live to see that transformation and I bet Facebook will continue to play a huge part in helping make that happen through its technology which facilitates conversations and exchange of ideas!

Facebook chart showing connections across conflict zones.
(Image Credit: Facebook)

Social Media Blog: Google Social Search

Where is Search headed with Google Social Search?

Google implements Social Search. If you are signed in to Google and do a search; your search results will show relevant web content written by people in your social circle. These results will be under the heading "Results from people in your social circle."

Like anything new that gets launched, there are people waiting to put old (er) proven techniques to bed. Case in point is that some people think that Social Networking will supersede the need for Search Engine Optimization.

I say “Hardly”!!!

I believe that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still the best way to gain new leads and visibility. But I also believe that search engine optimization can no longer be a stand-alone solution for a business seeking to generate visibility.
 
So what does that mean for a business owner?
 
Search Engine Optimization is important. That’s because your website needs to be found when people are searching for information or for products and services.

(Optimizing your website means making sure your website has been prepared with key phrases, relevant content, link building and ensuring that all that is continuously updated. Users searching the web for information have become more and more savvy. Most consumers who are ready to making a buying decision know that by putting in long-tail keywords, they can find what they want.)
 
However, with Google implementing Social Search; more and more consumers will rely on trusted opinions from their network to make a decision. Not only will it be necessary to get your website optimized for search engines; it will become imperative that your brand also to be engaged in social networks.

With Google Social Search people in your network may influence your decision on what brands get a thumbs-up and what brands get a thumbs-down. Consumers will begin trusting the opinions of other consumers just like themselves and begin making buying decisions based on what their networks are recommending.

But I believe that consumers aren’t naïve. They won’t just rely on opinions from their network because those opinions will be biased due to personal choices, financial constraints, and preferences of individuals in their network.

So Social Search results may result in influencing a decision but in a majority of the cases, consumers will continue to see the value of Search Engine Optimization.

My two-cents? The value of Search Engine Optimization will increase, not decrease! (By the way, don’t expect to see Facebook discussions on Google Social Search yet; the power brokers on each side are probably still negotiating terms)