Posts Tagged ‘blogs’

The car is about to go social

January 27, 2009

Yesterday, I saw this tweet from Gordon Snyder:

RT @michaelgass: The Next Social Network? Your Car about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

I was very intrigued as I read the AdAge article referenced in the tweet above. It’s exciting to see Ford working on going social. The ramifications of auto makers embracing social technology are big. The car going online and social is a big part of the realization of World 2.0.

In order for car makers to do it right, they definitely need to embrace the car as platform, as API. Closed, proprietary systems are going to be barriers and not fully embraced. Open systems which acknowledge that they aren’t the center of the universe, and that people continue to exist even when they aren’t sitting in their car, will win.

Dunkin' Donuts on TomTom GPSrWhat are the possibilities for a social car? Perhaps it’s better to think of it as an online car, because social networking will not be all that it can do.

The GPS navigation system is the first step in having some car/location “awareness”. GPS with real-time traffic updates is step two. Step three is to add more/better information about the location you are in, and your friends’ locations. Imagine driving into a town that you are not familiar with, being hungry, and your GPS/social car tells you that one of your friends recommends a quaint pub five blocks away. Or that you are driving in your hometown, and your car tells you that two of your friends are in the local coffee shop nearby. In a certain sense, what I am describing is a mashup of Yelp! and BrightKite, that works in your car. And to be truly user-friendly, such a system would have to work equally well when you are out of your car, and seamlessly integrate with your smartphone of choice.

It will be critical for any development of these systems to allow the user to have exactly what information she wants displayed, as well as to allow exactly what information is given to others. If you need alone-time, you need to be able to disable the broadcasting of your location, and turn off seeing the location information of others.

With this type of convergence, we are truly on our way to World 2.0.

Similarly, I wrote about why the shared branching networks need to get their ATM and branch locations into the TomTom GPS navigation system.

More recently, I saw this exact technology implemented on an iPhone by mFoundry at last year’s Finovate NYC conference held by NetBanker. It was quite impressive to press a button to get exact location and travel instructions, as well as phone number, for the nearest bank/credit union branches. The next step for financial institutions is to have this type of technology merge with social networks/reviews and to be conveniently displayed no matter whether you are inside your car or walking outside with your smartphone.

Of course the other important factor to address in the online/wired/social/whatever car is to make sure the driver is not distracted. Right now, too many people are looking down at their smartphones, texting, trying to look at GPS information, reading their emails, blogs and tweets, while driving. If we look at car as platform for this, perhaps what makes the most sense is to plug the smartphone into the car (perhaps wirelessly via bluetooth), and have browsed web page spoken out loud, in the way that GPS navigators do. Also handy would be voice-to-text conversion so that you could respond back without taking your eyes off the road.

It’s just nice that a corporate giant such as Ford is not asleep at the wheel, and is on the road to embracing the online social landscape that so many are adopting. In addition, Ford has had the foresight to invite social media evangelist @ScottMonty to head their social media team.

Motrin gives itself a migraine no painkiller can cure

November 17, 2008

When I opened my laptop this morning (Sunday), #motrinmoms was number one on Twitter Search. My curiosity piqued, I had to find out what this was all about. I discovered:

Last night, Motrin put this video ad on its web site.

Within an hour, one mom got upset and twittered about it.

Less than an hour after that, the hashtag #motrinmoms hit number one on on Twitter Search.

And the floodgates opened. #motrinmoms is still number one, 24 hours later. (While writing this post, another 35 messages have been tweeted.) The total number of tweets on the subject is more than 2,000.

A mommyblogger created and posted this You Tube video and another made this one containing some of the tweets that had been flying all night.

Then the bloggers started blogging about it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and… well, you get the idea.

Laura Fitton, aka Pistachio, wrote about it, and this fun summary was written at Enterprise Social Media.

A spoof of the ad, mocking the ad agency, appeared on YouTube.

Finally, 20 hours after the offending video went live, the VP of Marketing for MacNeil Consumer Health Care, the parent company of Motrin (itself a division of Johnson & Johnson) took its site down and issued an apology.

Yet #motrinmoms is *still* number one on Twitter Search.

As Laura Fitton said, this is going to be covered extensively in business media, as a negative case study, for a quite a while.

There are many who don’t understand what the fuss is about. I will admit that when I first read the transcript of the ad, I didn’t find it terribly offensive. But after watching the commercial, I understood the concern much more clearly. Notice that there is a “cuckoo” sound effect that occurs directly after the line “tired & crazy.” But anyone who thinks this is overblown is missing the point. The point is not whether or not you personally find the ad offensive, or think that mommy bloggers/twitterers are overreacting, the point is that the ad HAS offended a significant portion of the target audience, and that this entire mess could have been avoided if a.) the ad agency had any empathy with moms and had a mom write an ad to promote the product to begin with or b.) was monitoring the blogo/twittersphere for mentions of its name.

Takeaway: whether or not you launch ANY sort of marketing campaign (but especially if you are), monitor your brand name in the blogosphere (using Google Alerts) and the twitterverse (using Twitter Search).

Update 11/17 12:50pm: The New York Times has an article this morning, Moms and Motrin.

How many CUs should be blogging?

January 24, 2008

It has been fascinating to follow discussion on why more credit unions are not blogging several years after blogging became somewhat mainstream. The earliest reference I read was Trey Reeme’s post on CUES’ Skybox blog, one and a half years ago. More recently, Tim McAlpine in Vancouver asks CUs if they will blog for the money if not the love, which then got Shevled by the Shevlinator. The following message is partly aimed in response to Ron, who I think needs a trip to America’s CU Museum in Manchester, New Hampshire. (It’s only 51 minutes away from your office, Ron…. looking forward to joining you there on April 5 for BarCampBank NewEngland.)

Ron has some outstanding points to consider in developing an online strategy. Yes, a marketing person should always consider the broader strategic picture and figure out if/how blogging may or may not fit into that. Especially if you work at a large bank, where ROI is watched like a hawk.

But Ron is himself missing the bigger picture when it comes to credit unions. Namely, what is the purpose of a credit union? Why were they founded? These questions are even more on the forefront of my mind since I made a presentation last week to Lehigh Valley Educators CU in Allentown, Pennsylvania on the history of the credit union movement, and how their credit union fits into that amazing one hundred year history. (Yes, this is our centennial year in the United States.)

What is the major difference between banks and credit unions, besides lower loan rates, higher savings rates, lower or no fees, etc. (which is not even true in many cases nowadays)? It’s the self-governance, the fact that I personally can be elected to the Board of Directors. Since the Board equals .00001% of the total membership, most people never actually get to serve on the Board. But in theory, the Board is there to serve my needs and best interests. Prior to the internet age, there was no practical way that Average Jane Concerned Member could communicate with Elected Board Representative Wiseone. Now, via blogs, not only is that possible, it is possible to hold those conversations out in the open. Why wouldn’t Board members want to invite participation from their members? Why wouldn’t they want to discuss policy openly? Why wouldn’t you want to find out from the members themselves what it is they want in THEIR financial institution?

Ginny Brady is doing that with the Boardcast. But she is the lone voice out of 8,000+ CU boards. (Multiply that by an average of about 9 directors per board, and she is one in 72,000.)

It’s not easy being a Board member. It’s an unpaid position, and mostly thankless. Most members don’t realize that.

Most members feel disenfranchised from the institution. They feel it’s faceless, and that “it” doesn’t care about them. So why should they keep their accounts there or feel anything special towards it? By keeping policy decisions behind closed doors, Boards and CUs are perpetuating that the institution doesn’t really care about its members.


You want loyalty from your members? You can’t purchase loyalty. You can only earn it. You want your members to have a relationship with you? That starts with having a relationship with your members.

So how many CUs should be blogging? 100% of them.

(Credit unions that are planning on converting to a bank charter may be excused.)

Let me go out even further out on a limb. Trey and the rest of the gang at Trabian have always been very diplomatic when it comes to the question of blogging and credit unions. They have been very polite by saying you should determine if your culture is READY to blog. I’m going to flip it around.



Now having written some inflammatory remarks, I will back off that statement in three regards: One, because blogs are ‘hot’, I am seeing and hearing talk about blogs where a different form of media/communication is more appropriate, such as an online discussion site. Two, when I say blogs, I really mean open communication with your members. If you are still small enough or still have a focused FOM, and are in regular communication with your members via face-to-face discussions, or other channels, then you don’t need to have a blog. Three, blogging is indeed NOT a be-all, end-all panacea. It’s just one tool in a marketing toolkit. There is still a place for traditional media, as this Fast Company article on how trends happen points out.

But for all the CUs out there that are not growing, that are floundering with a lack of membership growth, that have ‘gone community’, that are looking for direction, you need to start communicating with your members, and not marketing ‘at’ them. And blogs are an exponentially less expensive way of doing that than focus groups.

Credit Unions that are blogging

October 8, 2007

As companion to the credit union innovators aggregated blog feed, here is an aggregated RSS feed of credit unions that are blogging for their members: feed://, with a tiny url of This feed contains these credit union rock stars:

Verity CU – Shari Storm, the first CU employee to blog
Change Everything – Vancity CU, Vancouver BC
Piedmont CU
Old Hickory CU
First New York FCU
UFirst Boardcast
CU Warrior – Members CU
Hopewell CU
Best Source CU
MidWest Financial CU
Secure First CU
Comala Connection
First Priority CU
First Tech CU
Forum CU – Aware Teens
ISUCU – Dude Where’s My Money?
River Valley CU
Savings & Loan CU (Australia)
Mount Lehman CU

CUs with one-way RSS info feeds:
Kinecta CU
Franklin Mint FCU

Aggregation of credit union innovators

October 8, 2007

I’ve creating an aggregated RSS feed of credit union innovators and strategists. The URL of the feed is: feed:// and I’ve created a tiny url version of it as well

The roster of credit union bloggers currently contains:
CUES Skybox
CUES Nexus
Filene Research Institute
OpenSource CU
NetBanker – Jim Bruene
William Azaroff
Marketing ROI – Ron Shevlin
True Stories – Doug True
YES CU Blog: Serving 18-to-30s – Christopher Morris
Life and Times of a CU Employee – Robbie Wright
Shout Out to Credit Unions – Suzanne Boniface
No Brand Pimps – Butch Holley
CU Communicator (NC)
Currency Marketing – Tim McAlpine
Tinfoiling – Gene Blishen
Black Rock Federal – Jesse Robbins
CU Indirect Lending
NC Marketing Council

How not to present a credit union blog

September 28, 2007

In the course of helping out a member of EverythingCU download a marketing plan from the site, I checked out her credit union online a little bit. It turns out that she works at a large (more than $500M in assets, 50,000 members) credit union in the Pacific Northwest. I looked at the CU’s web site and noticed a celebrity, apparently prominent in their area, featured front and center on the home page. And there was also a link to the credit union’s blog, featuring the celebrity. So naturally I clicked on it. I thought to myself, “hmm, this is interesting, let’s see what this is.”

When clicking the link, I was taken to the blog, which stated that it was the credit union’s blog. But what is rather apparent is that it is the CELEBRITY’S blog. The sole entries made in this blog are written by the celebrity, about once every month or so, for a total of five entries since March of this year (2007). The entries are interesting, dealing with a range of life issues. But they have NOTHING whatsoever to do with the credit union, finance, or anything about the region which the CU serves. NOTHING. There is no tie, no connection. And here’s the real kicker: there is a disclaimer at the bottom of the blog stating that the postings made in this blog are the celebrity’s, and do not represent the views of the credit union.


I just don’t get it.

Let’s put aside for one second the strategy of a credit union featuring a celebrity front-and-center. (Aren’t credit unions founded by, and exist for, regular people? How does featuring a celebrity, no matter how beloved in the area, further the credit union’s brand?)

Given that this CU is featuring the celebrity, the way that this particular blog should be presented is that it is the celebrity’s blog, sponsored by the credit union. That would be honest and true, and would not create a disconnect between the reality of the situation and the expectaction that this credit union is creating by calling it the credit union’s blog.

Advice: There’s nothing wrong, really, with this blog per se. What I have issue with is how it’s presented. If your CU is going to have a blog written by a third party, that’s fine. But call it the third party’s blog, sponsored by the CU.

Ginny Brady, UFirst Boardcast

September 13, 2007

The highlight of the afternoon had to be Ginny Brady. Just as Shari Storm of Verity CU is the first CU employee to blog, I would wager that Ginny Brady is the first Board Member of a CU to blog. I had learned of Ginny’s blog via OpenSource CU, but I had never put two and two together to realize that Ginny was in upstate New York, about a four hour drive away from Western Mass. The real delight of the session was learning that not only is Ginny blogging her credit union’s annual meeting, and putting photos from it on Flickr, she’s explaining how to use Google maps to create personalized mashups. Wow. I complimented Ginny on being more advanced than her CU’s marketing agency. I think that blogging is a natural fit for the cooperative, democratic nature of CUs and their boards. CU Board members sincerely want to represent their members. How better to do that than to engage them via a blog? So if you are a credit union professional or board member, and aren’t currently blogging, the real question is why not? There is no better way to engage your membership in dialogue, at the same time letting the members know what you and your CU are up to.

Marketing 2.0 and Mabel’s Labels

August 24, 2007

I’ve been talking about the fact that we are living in World 2.0 for a while now. It’s the logical successor to the Web 2.0 concept. The other logical conclusion we must draw is that it is critical to employ Marketing 2.0 concepts to succeed in World 2.0.

So what is Marketing 2.0? Marketing 2.0 has its roots in Guerrilla Marketing, the Cluetrain Manifesto, and is now personified by the success of social networking sites. At its core, Marketing 2.0 is about engaging customers in dialogue rather than shouting company-crafted messages at them. It stems from a bottom-up business philosophy centered around “How can our customers use us?” rather than traditional business/marketing thinking of “How can we use our customers?”

Current successful Marketing 2.0 campaigns include the Simpsonize Me site and Mabel’s Labels. Mabel’s Labels employs a Blogger Outreach Program, and these are the future of Marketing 2.0.

Here is the Marketing 2.0 group on Facebook, and here is an excellent interview from One Degree with Mabel’s Labels’ co-founder and PR Guru Julie Cole.