Tagged: Digital Marketing

Is Taco Bell the Savviest Social Media Brand?

On my commute back from office last night, I noticed few odd and alarming tweets. Allow me to quickly present my case:

Bridget Carey, from CNET was tweeting in ALL CAPS!!

And Nilay Patel had this

Taco Bell story? Some die-hards were flipping out!

Like any self-respecting digital marketer, I figured I had to be on top of this recent development. So I went to Taco Bell’s twitter. Then to their Instagram feed. Then to their Facebook page. And finally to their Google+ page as well. This is a collection of what I saw.

Taco Bell - Social Networks

Taco Bell – Social Networks

As it turned out, Taco Bell launched a new mobile app but rather than going on a social media frenzy, and buying up all possible hashtags, the digitally savvy brand did the exact opposite. It blacked out and went silent across all of their social presence channels. Even the website, which had products and corporate/brand information, wasn’t spared either to promote the new app. Content on the company’s Facebook was deleted and all images blacked out. On Instagram, Taco Bell released a series of black and white text-based images with the hashtag #onlyintheapp. For a brand that has over 10 million fans on Facebook, this move can clearly be described as ballsy, one which most marketers will lose weeks of sleep over.

Taco bell - only in the app

The silence was urging fans to download the app directly. Normally, a brand would go all out on its social and web channels to promote a new launch. For something like an app, the focus clearly would have been more on mobile marketing, and a typical brand would have done one, two or all the three below:

1) Running a CPD campaign to promote downloads on mobile ad networks. Off late, this has been a very popular form of promotion on Facebook and Twitter native apps as well

2) Buying display and text inventory across major networks, trying to push app functionality

3) Bid for related keywords on search engines and then hope for CPC traffic

Taco Bell, to the best of my knowledge, has done nothing of the above. This is obviously not to indicate that the above-mentioned methods are not effective. Thousands of apps employ those strategies every day, and do it with great success.

Taco Bell has done things differently while creating enormous amount of buzz and earned impressions. The App Annie chart below looks at the Taco Bell “Live Mas” app’s rank history over the past month, for Apple iOS. Notice the spike in the end. The chart shows that for the Food & Drink category, the app moved from its usual spot from around 60 to become number one for that category, in the US. Amazingly, It also became 24th most popular app in the US on the launch day. Next day, it climbed up to rank #22.

Taco Bell App - iOS Rank History

Taco Bell App – iOS Rank History

The hour-by-hour report is even more incredible. It starts with the app ranked 1,379 overall in the US as of 2am PT, October 28. By 1pm — it had shot to become the 24th most popular app. The app is not yet listed on the iTunes most popular free apps chart as it is updated on a weekly basis.

Taco Bell App - iOS Hourly Rank History

Taco Bell App – iOS Hourly Rank History

Besides the number of downloads, the post-download behaviour/interaction is vital. Everybody in the business knows that its easy to make users download apps, its far more tougher to make them use it everyday, every week, once every month or heck, even once after the first trial.

It won’t be the brilliant promotion strategy that would make users come back, but the app itself, and the UX it offers. Taco Bell covered that with the option of ordering mobile app only products on the app. They are also offering mobile payment, which is apparently the first for the industry. Moreover, in stores, there will be a separate pick-up line for app orders.

Taco Bell is known for its progressive and clever social media strategy, including being an early mover on Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest, Hyperlapse among others. While it initially seemed like Taco Bell had completely wiped out its Twitter history, the account is actually hiding at @totallynothere during the blackout — with all followers (1.4 million) and tweets (39.9K) in place.

Taco Bell - Totally not there twitter

Taco Bell’s alternative twitter account

It is also interesting to note how quickly Twitter acted to make the “new” Taco Bell account verified. Usually, when a verified account is renamed (which is exactly what Taco Bell’s agency Digitas did), it loses the verified status. Clearly twitter and Digitas were planning and working on this stunt together. For now, the experiment seems to be continuing though it may not be long before Taco Bell resets and retakes its old avatar. I, for one, miss the witty one-liners. See below for an epic example.

Taco Bell vs Old Spice - Tweet Wars

Taco Bell vs. Old Spice – Tweet Wars

It is heartening to see Taco Bell embrace technology like no one else, and at the same time, add emotions in the mix. Even the press invites sent for the announcement looked like something you wouldn’t expect from a fast food retailer.

Taco Bell Invitation

Taco Bell Invitation

And that’s the trick. Taco Bell wanted to make sure that their message broke through, without breaking their budgets.  As a pioneer marketer, Taco Bell prefers to do things that have never been done before, which fits perfectly with their brand as well as the demographic they cater to.

Social media has been tightly entrenched in Taco Bell’s broad marketing play as well, with key personnel from PR, operations, product, and marketing playing a part in influencing the brand’s social movement. And for those, who believe social media leads to zero ROI, one look at Taco Bell would absolve that myth. AdAge recently wrote about the role of social media in year-on-year sales growth outpacing its competitors.

I have written in the past about clever social media and real time marketing employed by brands but this easily surpasses all Dark dunks and funny tweet fights. What do you think?

This article has also appeared on The Wall Blog.

 

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The King of Real Time Marketing

This promises to be a crisp and concise post and I had to share this as a follow up to my last post, Real Time Marketing in India, where I discussed brands like Tide, Calvin Klein & Pepsi but Oreo‘s efforts during that fateful evening of SuperBowl stood out.

Real time marketing is gaining prominence in different forms all over the world, apparently even Blackberry is giving it a shot for Z10. You know what they say about “has-been” brands and RTM right? me neither.

anyways Oreo is making sure it stands out as the undisputed king of Real Time Marketing on interwebs.

How?

So this started out quite harmlessly, when a Rihanna fan known as Laura Ellen tweeted this

Laura Ellen Tweet on Oreo and KitKat

Things stayed quite pretty much for 2 days & Laura went about her business. But then suddenly KitKat woke up

KitKat replies to LauraSo it was the crunchiness of KitKat vs the darkness of Oreo in Tic Tac Toe. Even Laura could not believe what was transpiring

Laura replies

The smart alec types started having their own little fun, look at the second comment by John Haywood above 🙂 Meanwhile Laura was getting increasingly anxious

Laura is all over tumblr because of Kitkat

Her challenge was  getting attention far and wide. Images of twitter war between Taco Bell and Old Spice came running back.

But then, the team at Oreo tweeted the unthinkable

and Oreo closes the social media battle

They could not resist and rightly so I could not resist discussing this as a short post. Needless to say KitKat got some brownie points (touche’) but Oreo won that fair and square by being the nice guy. Brands need to have a human face, Consumers miss that most about them.

Digital Marketing Trends for 2013 in India

As over 150 million Indians surf the interwebs (yes, that’s what the cool kids call it these days), Indian marketers are losing their sleep to catch them young, in their mid-life crisis or even after hanging up their boots. The challenge is immense. Out of the $5 billion Indian advertising industry, $900 million go to digital marketing.  The share of digital is poised to grow larger every year & slated to touch 30% of the total market by 2015.

As marketers we need to keep a track on the consumer’s pulse and the next big idea to engage them. Keeping that in mind & that we have 11 months left to make those ideas work for us, here are 5 trends, which will go massive in 2013

1)   Native Advertising

“Once you go Native, you don’t go Interruptive” – ANON

Over the past 10 years, publishers have continued to monetize their sites with banners and pre-roll ads, and advertisers have continued to pump billions into these formats, in spite of tanking performance & universal contempt. While click-through rates on display ads started out at around 9% in 2000, they now hover around 0.2% – which effectively means 99.8% of banner ads go straight to the trashcan.

Native advertising like a Promoted Tweet or a Sponsored story in Facebook allows brands to promote their content into the experience of the site or other mediums, in a non-interruptive & integrated manner. We are going to hear a lot about Native this year & it will affect the way we create content, effectively & hopefully killing advertising that sucks.

Native advertising is the irrefutable future.

2)   Social TV

2013 is the year when Social TV will go mainstream, ending the era of sitting passively on big boy recliners and watching television.

Social TV’s secret sauce is mixing humanity’s love for Television and its enchantment with social media. NEWS, Sports and Music channels have been on the wagon for a while but the turning point for the industry will be getting GEC’s onboard, inviting viewers to interact and decide their own storytelling experience.

NDTV’s second screen effort in its mobile app and Airtel’s Shazam campaign are couple of recent examples from the Indian market, but the biggest of them all comes in April 2013, when American network SyFy launches Defiance as a cross-platform story, on TV and as a MMO game.

What makes the industry even more exciting is the imminent launch of Twitter TV ratings with Nielsen this summer and the prospect of Social TV growing to a multi billion-dollar industry by 2020.

3)   Fragmentation

Today’s consumer is both everywhere and nowhere and his/her attention is divided between multiple screens & platforms on different screens. Marketers like to speak about TV, Desktop & Mobile as 3 screens, adding Tablet into the mix as the 4th screen will be a wise move to reach those fragmented souls who are always on the target list as the “elusive on-the-go customer”.

More consumers are watching more and more content, but that viewing is dispersed across different platforms, starting with TV, Online Streaming and VOD to Podcast. Although some western markets are going through the cord cutting phenomena, Indian market is going through what I like to call as “Cord extension” phase, where consumers are adding broadband, mobile, DTH, DVR and IPTV connections over their existing Cable TV.

The mantra of Content everywhere and anywhere on any device & any screen has played its bit role in fragmentation but changing consumption lifestyles has made it necessary to shift both strategy and focus for marketers that want to keep up with their audiences.

Thus 2013 should see some brave moves by content owners worldwide, some even unthinkable few years back, to keep their audience with them.

4)   Content Marketing

Content Marketing has already attained huge prominence among marketers worldwide but 2013 will see consumers seeking out content themselves, making it increasingly vital to the purchase cycle as well. Brands & agencies are responding with increased capabilities, as they look for opportunities to get involved and engaged with consumers at different levels, to provide content that is relevant and share worthy.

2013 will also witness marketers combining content with context to drive commerce.

Brands such as Red Bull with the Stratos Freefall initiative and McDonald’s Canada with Our Food, Your Questions campaign have led the charge globally while Tata Nano’s Social road trip has made a splash in the Indian market.

5)   Smart Data

Originally this was supposed to be titled as Big Data, and then came along an email by Rachel Gilley from our UK office, explaining how 1 of our clients thought data needs to be actionable and Smart data attained it’s place in the list. Every consumer touch point is a valuable piece of data & taking it together is possibly an antidote to fragmentation, discussed earlier in this post.

Big Data is complex to say the least and possibly the greatest challenge marketers face all over the world today. Companies collect information from their customers in structured or unstructured format, which are later put through various tools to understand consumers better. Global brands like Netflix, Amazon and Apple use it to serve better recommendations to their customers, whereas most of major Indian Retailers like Shoppers Stop & Lifestyle use transaction data to re-design store layouts & inventory management.

Interestingly Shoppers Stop, for instance, found that very often when middle-aged ladies shopped for Indian clothing, the other item on their list was men’s innerwear.

The much-improved version of Big Data is Smart Data, Data that can be put instantly to use by brands to improve marketing, business decisions and customer engagement practices.

This post has also appeared on imediaconnection India

Top 7 Aviation News & Analysis Resources on the Web

                                              Photo Courtesy : Airliners.net

With my last post, The Social Dutchman, I reached readers from 24 countries with inspiring feedback, providing me the urge to do better with my next. A benchmark was set for me & for over 2 weeks I thought about how to engage with more geeks like me, whether those are Social Media, Digital Marketing, Technology or in the case of this post, Aviation Geeks, or as they are called on twitter, #AVGeek.

There would have been other lists done before, maybe yes, then what value addition I bring to the table (& as a Digital Marketer, I get asked this question on daily basis) Well my simple answer is, I bring my own experience of being an ardent aviation reader for over 3 years to the table, during which I have been to over 120 aviation websites and blogs.

I have been fond of airplanes for as long as I remember, being in awe of pilots walking to their craft, clicking pictures with crappy cellphone cameras, reading every word of safety manuals in seat pocket, hell I probably was the biggest fan of Pan Am, the show which abc dropped, nerdy stuff like that but I delved more into the industry with the arrival of twitter, my favorite social network as I mentioned in the last post as well.

So this list compiles 7 of the best commercial aviation related web resources (listed alphabetically) that I know of, hopefully enthusiasts, from noob to pro level, all of them would find something they like. Your comments are welcome at the bottom of this post.

Airline Business Blog

Although Airline Business is a monthly international magazine for senior airline management, it also has a blog on the flightglobal blog page, focusing on “a sideways look at the airline industry”.

13 other blogs jostle for attention on the same page, including the famous FlightBlogger. With such rich content & renowned contributors, Airline Business Blog has carved a loyal following for itself by providing unparalleled coverage on Airline News, Interviews, Infographics & well researched opinion pieces.

Max Kingsley-Jones article on Boeing’s 787 at this years Farnborough show has been 1 of my favorite off late, summing up the Blog for me by being precise, studied & descriptive.

Arun Rajagopal’s How to know your Airbus from Boeing

Although Arun’s blog is full of marvelous information about aviation & his trip reports (Read this with a tissue: His report on last kingfisher international flight), this article, more so a plane spotter’s guide, as Arun explained me himself, has been “one of the best things I have ever done in my life”

Differentiating between an Airbus & a Boeing aircraft is one of the most important things for an enthusiast, a conversation starter & a handy way to show off among your friends, I can vouch for the last one.

Arun wanted to know more himself & realized there wasn’t any resource online suitable enough for him, so he wrote his own guide, took him 2 weeks but clearly it was well worth it & we can consume those 2 weeks of hard work, complete with explanatory pictures, in less than 40 minutes.

Aspire Aviation Analysis

This is where I come when I need commentaries on issues pertaining to Asian aviation scene in large. Their location, Hong Kong, one of the world’s biggest aviation hubs, certainly helps in their coverage of stories.

Although Aspire Aviation is primary an aerospace consultancy business, their analysis section piques my interest with every visit, Daniel Tsang, the founder & chief analyst of the site told me he wanted to start a blog where he could express his views about industry developments & with time they added editors increasing the diversity offered.

Daniel also realized that Aspire could provide qualitative analysis for free, instead of hefty fees charged by others, as information cost fell significantly & they were in a unique position to provide Asian perspective to issues.

Besides Asian Aviation, Daniel, along with Vinay Bhaskara has also authored detailed posts on Airframe manufacturers like Airbus, Boeing & Bombardier.

Bangalore Aviation

I remember visiting Devesh Agarwal’s Twitter page, through Mashable’s recommended list few years back, which led me to BangaloreAviation.com.

Since that day, without a shadow of a doubt, Bangalore Aviation has been my first stop for everything related to Indian Aviation news & analysis; turns out hundreds of thousands of other enthusiasts feel the same way.

Devesh, joined off late by Vinay Bhaskara, has this uncanny way of making the industry approachable for newbies, as well as make the pros feel at home, with their concise approach & detailed analysis. I, especially look forward to Airlines financial analysis, which Vinay undertakes for the site.

As Devesh mentioned during our interaction, Aviation has been in his blood since childhood, he has flown aircraft for 24 years himself & advised Ministry of Civil Aviation on BIAL airport, giving him an edge which very few can boast of in this beat.

Cranky Flier

I’m not at all surprised that Crankyflier.com usually figures in the top aviation blogs list everywhere, as Brett Snyder has been responsible for one of the world’s best online destination for people’s thrust (literally) for aviation industry.

My regular lunchtime reading aviation tweets usually have a link to a latest piece on cranky & I marvel at the ease with which the articles envelop the reader with excitement & information.

Brett calls himself the President & Chief Airline Dork for Cranky Flier LLC, & that dorkiness has been with him since he was a kid, like going to LAX to pick up airline timetables & birthday gifts which led to plane spotting. He has worked with airlines, travel companies & now consults on various projects, along with running a personal concierge service.

You should visit crankyflier for insights & happenings in American aviation industry, & checking up on Brett’s regular articles for Conde Nast Daily Traveler & other blogs.

SimpliFlying

Simpliflying is probably the world’s best combination of marketing & aviation for me. Shashank Nigam’s (CEO, SimpliFlying) quote during our discussion explains it best, “Our brand engagement with a can of Coke is about 10 minutes. With Starbucks, it’s about 2 hours. But with an airline, it’s anywhere from 2-24 hours. And that’s just within the cabin. So why do airlines keep applying the same marketing principles as Coke and Starbucks, despite seldom turning a profit?”

& That’s why we have Simpliflying today, right from explaining how weather problems are airline brand business, to key influencers making a difference, Shashank & his team have explained all this & more through easy to understand infographics, video content, presentations, interviews, webinars, articles & even an iPhone app.

The Points Guy

I came across thepointsguy while I was preparing myself for a business trip to US & it has quickly become my go-to site for information on frequent flyer programs, credit card & hotel deals.

Although I would admit that the site is mainly focused on American readers, it still has some great resources for overall understanding about collection points, like The Beginners Guide, which has step-by-step instructions to become an addict.

For my travel, I was able to extract two important links concerning my hotel bookings, for example: I got to know how I could earn up to 5x air miles (in my case, it was KLM Flying Blue) by staying at Hyatt Reston, & another link helped me in deciding between going for Hotels.com free nights or Hotel Points offered at their sites. (I went with the latter of course).

During my communication with Brian Kelly’s office, the founder of the site, I was able to clearly see that unlike other similar sites, he disseminates information to his readers in a more intuitive, easy to understand & most importantly street smart way to work effectively with the system.

It has inspired me to travel one day in J class with a bag full of miles & points, instead of cash.

SPECIAL Mention:

I would like to mention Live From A Lounge, hosted as part of Boarding Area, an India dedicated site for Credit Card, Airport Lounges, Hotel & Airline miles, run by AJ, I certainly enjoy reading his reports & he answers reader questions frequently as well.

Update: I have received an email from AJ, requesting for some additions to this summary :

LFAL is an India-dedicated site covering Indian aviation and hotels, focusing on how to travel smart and in style from India by making the best use of deals, miles, points and credit cards offered in India. Live From A Lounge frequently features in the Top 20 travel blogs worldwide as per Technorati, the global authority on blog rankings.

 
This Post is also featured on Bangalore Aviation, as a slightly altered Guest Post.

KLM | The Social Dutchman

Image

The genesis of this post, my first ever, was a tweet to me by Rohit Rao, known as @TheAeroBlogger on my favourite Social Networking site, Twitter.

I would talk about Twitter on another post, but this one is all about my passion, my passion for Airplanes, Traveling & Social Media, & my recent experience of all of that converging into one wholesome package.

I was traveling on Business to US in June/July 2012 & @KLM happened to be my 31st airline (did the math). KLM was not my primary choice, in fact I wanted to fly its Sky Team partner, Air France for the routing, but boy was I glad at the end of it all!
I had read a lot about the “truly” social seating features that KLM had introduced, for the first time ever in the world of commercial aviation through its initiative known as “Meet and Seat” & when I realized that my flights would have those features while checking in, the social media guy in me took the front seat (not literally, premium economy requires you to pay more).
After filling in all relevant details, I was surprised to find only 2 gentlemen using the service (DEL-AMS route), one through Facebook & the other through Linked In. & unfortunately for me, none of the hot chicks on the flight decided to bother themselves with it (like this un-official video below would have you believe). Shockingly enough I was the only user of the service on AMS-IAD, & while returning from JFK to DEL via AMS, I encountered no users of Meet & Seat.

Although, its an exciting development, the concept of Social Seating has been discussed for a while now (Look at this coverage of Meet & Seat launch by @SimpliFlying), & other specialized players in the space like Satisfly have more detailed features, allowing better matching & flexibility to travelers.
Being a Marketer, my left brain & my right brain, both tell me its the marketing stupid. If i recall correctly, there was no special promotion on KLM’s homepage for the feature (unlike airBaltic promoting its satisfly features) & there is still none. Even the check-in page had little mention, I first sighted a RHS dynamic banner while filling in my API (Advance Passenger Information), some might say that’s appropriate given meet & seat is an optional additional feature, I would highly disagree.

When you have an exclusive service, which is available on just 1 other airline, out of possibly 1000s of other airlines in the world, WHY WOULD YOU NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT?

KLM, arguably has one of the world’s best social media response teams, spread across regions, on Facebook & Twitter, interacting & delighting travellers every minute, KLM’s Marketing team was behind this fantastic Surprise campaign, they have a gamut of helpful & entertaining mobile apps, but I find it astounding that when it comes to Meet & Seat, there is very little noise generated by them. In this era of increased social connectivity & interaction, Meet & Seat could have easily become the talking point among travelers, some of them might have even paid a premium to be on KLM because of it.

The only logical explanation that I could think for under promoting is that the service is in beta, & KLM is in the process of adding more features & capabilities. To that, I would just say 3 words, Look at Google.

My experience on KLM was fantastic & the cabin crew was most friendly & helpful in all four legs of the trip, I would fly with them again for those Big MD-11 windows (although the IFE was crappy), for the wonderful hub at Schiphol, for the amazing roof at Schiphol, making you see aircraft fly in & out, & for its wonderful & courteous staff, alas Meet & Seat if promoted well, could have been another solid reason.

PS: This post was coined “The Social Dutchman” by me after realizing KLM is more than just a “Flying Dutchman” & I hope they live up to this recognition.

This Post is also featured on AeroBlogger, as a slightly altered Guest Post.