Archive for the ‘Online Marketing’ Category

Did a 15 year old define your multi-million dollar brand online before you did?

April 16th, 2012

By Jay Byrne

In the first weeks of 2009 a St. Louis area 15 year old using the screen name Marcus_Qwertyus launched his career as a Wikipedian and new media influencer.  In less than six weeks Marcus (aka, Mark William Schierbecker of Webster Groves, MO) entered more than 500 edits for Wikipedia articles working at a pace only a teenager with free time over winter break might maintain.  In his first year this prolific social media participant made some 7,000 contributions to the Wikipedia online encyclopedia of stuff.  By 2012 contributions for this now high school senior have risen to more than 25,000.

Wikipedia Pinterest profile edits

His editing interests range in diversity of topics from hand grenades to mobile phones.  He caught my attention because on August 22, 2011, Markus created the first entry for the current social media phenom Pinterest.   I wondered how the folks at Pinterest allowed a teenager the first shot at creating the most potentially influential description of their brand and product offering online – a full year after they launched their product in 2010 and a week after Time Magazine listed them in an article about the 50 best websites of 2011.  Anyone who follows social media had to anticipate their brand would be the focus of interest online by the Wikipedia community.

Our youthful Wikipedian clearly got on Pinterest’s radar quickly.  Early contributor tracking for Pinterest’s new Wikipedia profile page reveals that an editor who offers to help brands online immediately petitioned to have the teen-created profile page deleted; however, our prolific Show-Me state editor responded.  Armed with effective use of Wikipedia community standards and tactics and enlisting the support of other community editors, his definition-setting article for this now emerging social networking powerhouse new media brand stands today.

While our teen editor Markus continues to be the major watchdog and influencer over edits to this page, the now well-massaged profile for Pinterest. with scores of edits and revisions,  is likely not a problem for the brand and its backers.  What’s most intriguing is how savvy Internet entrepreneurs with well versed new media financial backers missed an opportunity to define who they were first and at this critical early stage of their brand development.  Getting into Time Magazine and the buzz that was generating around Pinterest clearly suggests they had access to professional marketing and public relations support – this support apparently put some social media influence behind that of other traditional outreach in their plans.

We frequently come across organization brands which meet the qualifications for inclusion in Wikipedia, but whose management still aren’t sure about venturing into social media to engage and help define themselves.  Wikipedia engagement remains highly elusive and fraught with perils for most.  Executives are often wary of spaces where 15 year olds can yield equal or greater power over their names.  Community standards and engagement practices create challenges for traditional public relations and marketing professionals, but the influence of Wikipedia dictates that we surmount those challenges and embrace the opportunities therein.

An organization’s profile and references within Wikipedia, should they be created and maintained, will be found when people search for your brand and form opinions about you.  What’s included in this information will be cited and sourced in other discussion threads.  It will frequently serve as a starting point for journalists, analysts and other key influential stakeholders linked to your organization’s interests.  The first to move and create a profile sets the tone and framework for how others in Wikipedia will engage around your brand.  While you cannot own your brand on Wikipedia, leaving how it appears to fate and the whims of others, be they a savvy teen, critical activist or competitor, would be a gaping hole in any online brand and reputation management plan.

Executives or investors who are surprised and have to react when someone else defines your interests online, be it in Wikipedia or other influential social platforms, should reevaluate the sources of their marketing and public affairs counsel.

Jay Byrne is president of v-Fluence Interactive, an agency offering digital research and strategic communication support for online reputation and issues management.  v-Fluence provides clients with customized brand and product research, white papers, best practice guidelines and execution support for engagement across new media platforms.

National Advocay Summit – Digital Health Care

May 18th, 2010

Jay Byrne presentation to May 2010 National Advocacy Summit gathering of health care and patient advocacy groups on digitial trends from blogs to beyond into the cloud.  A copy of his presentation materials is available by clicking here:  Digital Health Care 2010

Healthcare “Apps” Exploding in Mobile, Are You Ready?

March 5th, 2010

Does your online monitoring cover new mobile app spaces? If so, you’re seeing what we are: i-Tunes’ Health & Fitness or Medical categories now contain more than 6,000 apps for iPhones. As of January 2010, there were more than 1,700 medical applications; all together, they’ve been downloaded by more than 1 million users.

Among these, there are hundreds of applications that reference virtually every major pharmaceutical brand name, offering services from basic prescribing data to “cost-saving” generic or over-the-counter alternative options. These have been developed by medical publishers, pharmacies, payers, hospitals, advocacy groups, alternative health promoters, health care professionals, litigators, government agencies and others. Virtually every therapeutic area is already represented with growing offerings for disease management. For example, Virginia Commonwealth University recently announced an application for physicians and patients to monitor daily asthma treatment routines.

Late to the game but starting to appear are apps from the pharmaceutical industry. When it comes to pharmaceutical company-branded apps, most are free of charge, while the costs of general healthcare-related apps for the iPhone range from free to $299. More specifically, 23 percent of all medical and health applications are available for free; the median price charged for the remaining 77 percent is $1.99.

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Turning mobile consumers into food safety inspectors, clinical diagnosticians and more

July 24th, 2009
Using a Cellscope

Using a Cellscope to Check for Diseases.

The latest whiz-bang application for mobile users, CellScope, comes to us from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, whose tool enables cell phone cameras to be used as fluorescent microscopes. This means that mobile devices with cameras, like the iPhone, can be adapted to collect and transmit images from blood and sputum (snot or spit) to diagnose the presence of malaria parasites and tuberculosis.

While this fluorescent scope device currently requires a plug-in component, we’re not so far away from software or camera upgrades that would make this adaptation accessible to any iPhone or android device user. Similar applications could easily include the detection of E. coli or other bacteria in food. Imagine that your ground beef smells a little off. Take a snap with your cell phone, and learn if you’ve got a contaminated Big Mac. How about H1N1 (aka, Swine Flu)? Sneeze, and snap a picture; diagnosis and links to related information, services or therapeutic products could be delivered in real time.

The possibilities that these types of mobile applications afford, which inform decision-making and influence behavior at the point of consumption, are endless. Are we ready for mass access and control over food quality or disease diagnostics, like the examples noted above? It won’t matter if we’re ready or not, it’s coming. I’ve written before on the demise of the PC being driven by mobile applications; this is just the latest nail in that coffin, which extends mobile’s reach well beyond where anyone could have predicted.

Continue reading the full post at the v-Fluence Company Blog

Growth in Mobile “Apps” Forebodes PC’s Demise

May 4th, 2009

Where the Web is heading and where you need to be

Not all of the more than 25,000 mobile applications (apps) currently available for the iPhone and other smart phone devices were intentionally designed to kill the PC; however, virtually all of them are training us for that eventuality. Point of consumption content opportunities and risks are booming and organizations that are not positioning themselves now for the related shifts will find themselves at significant disadvantages.

The demise of the PC will not surprise anyone who has studied the history of the ever-shrinking computer or my fellow boomers who still remember when the IBM Selectric™ dominated desktops over ThinkPads™. It may be harder for the X and Y generations to envision a completely PC-free world; however, they will be leading the way with their rapid adoption of mobile and other point of consumption interactive tools.

The key question for those seeking consumer and other key stakeholder influence is, “Where and when are their points of decision and consumption, and how do I effectively participate at those places and at those times?” For many, that transaction point will be via some mobile application interfacing with a smart phone, car GPS system or other Web enabled appliance or device. So, if you are still fiddling with finally launching that killer Web site or edgy corporate blog today, you can stop reading now – it’s unlikely you’ll be around to worry about this.

Continue reading the full post at the v-Fluence Company Blog

The Death of Print

April 2nd, 2009

What’s really endangered about newspaper publishing?

Predictions of the death of the American newspaper are appearing with greater and greater frequency, along with the actual demise of several well known dailies. The Rocky Mountain News recently ceased publication altogether and the Christian Science Monitor will move to an all-online publishing platform next month. The Web is the accused assassin and cause of this mainstream media crisis. It also is the primary driver behind traditional media’s search for a sustainable way to exist profitably online.

What many newspapers don’t realize is that they have yet to perfect the basic mission of successful Web publishing: Link relevant content with relevant audiences for increased ROI opportunities for relevant advertisers. When they do, they may staunch their current hemorrhage and – gasp – perhaps make money online.

Time Magazine has taken up the apparent demise of print journalism with a cover story and recent report predicting the potential demise of eight to 10 of the most endangered papers in the country. Time suggests these once-powerful media mainstays are close to shutting down or moving to online-only publications. But will just a shift to online publishing save them?

Continue reading the full post at the v-Fluence Company Blog

Skittles in Social Media: Key Lessons from a Bold, Ballyhooed Campaign

March 11th, 2009

From the v-Fluence Company Blog:

This past week we were talking about Skittles and an innovative campaign launched by the marketers at Mars, Incorporated, next week it will be something else. That’s the nature of our fleeting attention span and how the Web has helped whittle it into many minute buckets filled with fleeting bits and pieces of information – yes, even fruit-flavored rainbow colored ones.

For their part, the Mars marketers deserve acknowledgment: They took a bold step this week and embraced the fact that consumers, not the brand team, increasingly control their brand and image online. In fact, they’ve gone so far as to actually turn over the keys via their brand Web site,, which they re-launched largely as a navigation tool that overlays social media spaces where unfiltered, regular consumers are talking about their products.

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