Big Brother 1984 – Just took a Couple of Decades to Reach!

Written by on January 15th, 2010

FBI, Electronic billboards, Social Media & MORE “wisdom of the crowds”

The FBI is at the beginning phases of using social media and the “wisdom of the crowds” to solve crime.

I was working out today and watched as the FBI unveiled a new crime fighting strategy.  They unveiled on Time’s Square a massive electronic billboard that will list America’s most wanted!

NBC did a great job covering the story and providing additional background to show how their strategy emerged.  It appears they picked up on the Amber alert technique and started working with Clear Channel and other electronic billboard companies to post information about wanted criminals.   The program proved effective for them when they posted an image of a South Carolina bank robber that led to his identification.  They then posted his name and information which led to his arrest.

So let’s fast forward this and go “back to the future”

In my book, Engage Customers Online I shared a story how the car company – Mini Cooper used RFID to communicate with Mini Cooper owners through select billboards.  (They called Motorboards).  Mini owners that were interested completed an online profile and were then sent a “key fob”.   When the driver came within range of a Motorboard, the LED readout on the Motorboard displayed a customized, often humorous message that related to the owner’s profession, name, or roof design. Examples: “Nice roof graphic, Rocket!” to an owner with a car nicknamed Rocket, or “Moving at the speed of justice!” to a lawyer.  That was about 3 years ago!

Fast forward to today and imagine that you are driving past a billboard that is using Facebook Connect and RFID.  As you approach it, it instantly taps into your social network to see if you are in some way connected to one of America’s most wanted (or anyone wanted for that matter.  It might include child support payments, parking tickets outstanding – who knows where it will stop)

If it finds you are connected in some way, the billboard or an electronic dashboard system  instantly (says or posts)  “Don, George Lucas is wanted for making science fiction movies,  you are connected to him by Angie Dickinson.  We’re dropping an alert in your News Feed to let us know any tips you may have that will bring him in safely.”

This automated system would feed tips back to the control center where they are instantly validated and checked out.

All of us are trying to figure out how to play and use Social Media for our businesses.  There are good and bad signs we need to be paying attention to as we move along.  Those that are living “The Truman Show” on Facebook, need to rethink what they are doing.  And, those responsible for creating strategies, need to keep in mind basic civil liberties and privacy norms.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in Social Media.   You need to help shape it for the good of your organization and your customers.

Army of tweeting students, alumni and staff to increase enrollment

Written by on January 9th, 2010

H&R Block provides example college admissions can adopt!

 The headline of this blog today was inspired by an article in Advertising Age written by Beth Snyder Bulik.

H&R Block as you know, prepares tax statements for millions of customers.  It’s a very seasonal business – but its big business!  There are nearly 13,000 retail shops around the country and the company has 100,000 employees.

H&R started to notice that behaviors of consumers were changing last year when they recognized that out of the 95 million tax returns that were filed electronically, nearly 1/3 of them were from home computers.  They realized they needed to offer a home computer tax program to not only build their brand, but offer a bridge to their retail shops.

To market their program they decided to incorporate both traditional advertising and social media marketing.  Their goal was to use social media to educate customers, answer questions, build brand awareness and leverage the conversations that develop into visits to their corporate page where the visitor could select a retail shop to help them prepare their taxes or purchase their software.

To accomplish that, H&R built a 1,000 employees social media army!   They provided this team an overview of their strategy, what they wanted to accomplish, outlined their goals and offered basic training on social media.  According to Bulik:

The social-media strategy includes a Twitter account, widgets, blogs, a YouTube channel and a Facebook fan page and apps — a recent one in the form of a quiz asks, “How deductible are you?”

Why did they do that?

If the average person on Twitter has 100 friends, 1,000 employees have an opportunity to reach not only 1,000,000 people but their tweets have the ability to reach the 100 people that each of the people they know are connected to.   That’s a big number!   And they don’t have to pay a marketing, PR or advertising channel to reach them.

This army could be on any of their social networks and respond when:

  • Someone mentions they have to do their taxes
  • A tax question is asked
  • Someone is interested in finding a place that provides loans based on taxes due to the person
  • Someone is looking for a person to do their tax
  • Someone shares an issue they have had with the IRS

While Social Media monitoring software catches this information, it’s people that respond.  Because even in this new online world, “people still do business with people”.

So how would your company unleash an army of Social Media?   Let’s take a look at this from the college recruitment angle.

Admissions offices could do the same thing.

Think about it, a college has thousands of students, tens of thousands of alumni (if not hundreds of thousands) and dozens of staff  that could form the core of the Social Media team.  This army of people could be create a variety of content in audio, video, text and or photographs to build the college brand, engage prospective students and maintain mindshare of prospective students.

  • Students could be sharing information about events, activities and courses.
  • Alumni could share experiences, career advice.
  • Faculty could offer min courses, answer questions.
  • Prospective students could be talking about their visits, sharing research and students, alumni and faculty they are meeting.

And of course all could be engaging prospective students in dialogue.

Why does this make sense? 

  1. It’s cheap! It’s repeatable and once you’ve built the system it runs by itself.
  2. Everyone I just mentioned has a vested interest in seeing the college succeed.
  3. This Social Media team represents authentic voices that prospective students will believe.

Experts today remind us that you no longer have control of your brand

Your brand exists in the people we’ve listed above.  Prospective students no longer pay attention to the “slogans and phrases” colleges work so hard to create and market. Students today pay just as much or more attention to what people they know say about the college.

So what are the steps to implement a social media strategy within a college admissions office?

We’ll cover that in upcoming blog articles.  ? leave a comment or call 800-805-9413.

Use the “Crowd sourcing” in 2010 to Run your Business & Life!

Written by on January 3rd, 2010

Twitter, Facebook and other social media will help you make decisions

Growing up in the 60’s was an incredible time and yet stressful time.  Everything was in flux.  The role of a father was changing from the master and ruler of his domain to one where he shared power with his wife, sex came out in the open, equality finally was put on the front burner and students learned how to collectively band together to change the world!

It was a decade that sought to give “Power to the People”.  A time in which people were actively exercising their right to be involved in decisions.

In the 40 some years since that movement started, I don’t think 16 year olds forgot about the values associated with power to the people.  As they grew up, they changed the world, made it more transparent, worked to provide equality in race, pay and ability, thought more about the environment rights and much more.

Now as we enter the next decade, technology is going to take “power to the people” to a whole NUTHER level.  Technology is giving individuals, corporations and non profits the ability to reach out and use the power of the people to accomplish things that would not have been achievable.  Today we call that “Crowd sourcing”  (…More…)