Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why Do We Pay for Advertising, Again?

“The conversation is happening whether you are participating or not,” said Porter Gale, top marketer for Virgin American Airlines. That was a real statement if I’ve ever heard one. More and more companies are capitalizing on the vast amount of potential social media has to make or break a brand; some better than others. In a recent article on Ad Age titled “Why Virgin Values Twitter, Facebook More than TV,” Gale highlights the success they’ve gotten via their social media initiatives – which in her opinion, are more successful than the cost of advertising.Why Virgin America Values Twitter, Facebook More than TV

While many brands are jumping aboard the technological wave, Virgin has embraced the trend much faster and with more enthusiasm than any other brand in their market. They respond to in-flight tweets for goodness sake! According to Gale, Facebook and Twitter serve as a multifunctional component to the advancement of their revenue. They use each to engage with guests, make accommodations and even relay important flight information. The airline’s fifth-most successful day in ticket sales ever came as a result of a Twitter promotion. That alone, should speak for itself.

Gale made some pretty sound statements in regard to social media. It’s happening, it’s working and it’s here to stay. “Having a two-way dialogue is really important as people are online more and more,” she said – and she’s right. With 63.2 million smart phone owners aged 13 and over, the US experienced a 60 percent increase since just a year ago. According to a three-month study from September 2010 – December 2010, comScore, Inc. found that of these 63 million owners, 24.7 percent used a mobile social media application. Considering the increase that will happen once the laggards jump on the bandwagon, that’s huge!

Because the majority of Virgin’s sales are done online, it only makes sense for their marketing tactics to remain online as well. Gale doesn’t think TV ads, on their behalf, will happen anytime soon. In today’s realm of consumer reviews, word-of-mouth is essential to the building and maintenance of a brand. A couple of bad reviews on sites like Yelp have the potential to shine negative light on even the household names with catchy jingles. It’s important to have an online presence to prospectively interject negativity and turn it positive; before the power of a dissatisfied consumer takes flight.
There’s no doubt that successful social media tactics take time, strategic planning and proper implementation - but once a company is able to tackle the aforementioned, the power and opportunity it has is endless.   

AdAge: “Why Virgin American Values Twitter, Facebook More than TV,” Michael Bush, February 9, 2011
“comScore Reports December 2010 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share,” February 7, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011


#ThanksToTwitter the world, as we once knew it, has changed - forever. I remember on several occasions "#thankstotwitter" being a trending topic. I never put much thought into how much Twitter has actually changed things. I'd like to call myself an early adopter of the fad, as I joined in some early month of 2009, when people were afraid to step off the Facebook train - and the laggards were still on MySpace. I used Twitter as simply a way to literally express what I was doing and to keep up with the folks that I actually cared to know about. I followed a few celebrities here and there, which actually created a relationship with them that you couldn't get from reality shows or blogs. You could actually engage with them. 

As more people jumped on the bandwagon, it made the experience more fun, even more useful. Today, I get a lot of information, which I ordinarily wouldn't have looked for beyond Twitter, from Twitter. I find myself spreading news, stories or other types of information to other people that I learned from Twitter. Being in PR makes these things more fun. While at most jobs, your phone shouldn't be out and social media websites may even be blocked on work computers. In both of my PR agency experiences, social media was apart of the job. So #ThanksToTwitter, I'm able to keep up with the world around me, while at work, without being penalized for it. 

#ThanksToTwitter, I know every update and change of event going on in Egypt. I know who's hiring Fashion PR Account Executives and which New York company is in search for Fashion Week interns. I can separate my illiterate followers from those who can actually construct a proper sentence. I can tweet important NABJ updates and meeting reminders to my members. #ThanksToTwitter, I know the weather and road conditions during this week of ice and snow. I know the “hot-spot” for the evening, where the best happy hour spot is, and whether or not the restaurant I’ve been considering lives up to its hype.

If any point is to be noted, it’s the fact that Twitter (along with other avenues of social media) has changed the way I (and a lot of the world) do things. It is yet another way for PR practitioners to keep their clients in a positive light in the minds of their consumers. It’s a way for business, celebrities and people of importance to share information with the public, to defer rumors and to engage with their most loyal supporters. It’s become a way of life. And it’ll probably be around for a while – that is, until the next Mark Zuckerberg or Dick Costolo arises.