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via ivysays.comToday, IVY was giving dating advice on twitter and asking people for feedback on her make a move rose giveaway and planning a tweetup dinner.

Yesterday, at the table, we sat arguing for around 20 minutes whether IVY is real or not.

The whole week before, people were passionately interacting with IVY on twitter…

Two weeks ago, Ivy registered to attend a tweetup and blogged about it.

And the truth of the matter is that we shouldn’t care if IVY is real or not. We should be happy that companies have finally understood the language of digital natives and is creating campaigns that resonate and interact with us, as well as the other poor mere mortals. After EXOTICA’s  unexciting Different Christmas campaign, that even failed to point us to the blog on their billboards, Leo Burnett, Exotica’s ad agency,  reviewed all of its mistakes and came up with something with a phenomenal snowball effect. Yes, as I said before my friends, social media marketing is sparking to life in the middle east and you are either with us, or eaten by the competition.

Things to learn from Exotica’s IvySays Project.

1- Give and you shall receive

The IVY we have come to know and love is a giver. She started by giving us dating advise, which though we may not all apply, but we all loved and we felt compelled single people everywhere felt compelled to try out Ivy’s moves and then… Ivy slipped a rose into our hands and made it all the more easier. Think about your clients, think about what they need. And even if you are B2B business, think: Do your they need education, help, comfort, care, empowerment? All of us do, don’t we? Now how can you use all that your expertise to help them, regardless of your product?

2-Engage and you shall be engaged

Before IVY got to her first post, she got a twitter account and after that, she did not just re-tweet her own posts, she replied to people, she talked to them, shared her opinions on outside issues, gave them advice and encouragement. There was no pushing her message or asking for anything for herself. That is why, when IVY asked questions she got enormous feedback, even from those who were in doubt about her true identity. And that is value you will not be able to leverage unless you create a genuine online persona [not to be confused with a retweet bot].

3-Go where they go, do what they do!

Ivy blogged about various creeks and corners in Beirut, be in Kayan, Greedy Goose or Le Grey, and that is what made her connect and resonate with her audience. Ivy did not blog about flowers she blogged about fashion, make-up, glamor, plastic surgery, national pride, chocolate- SUGAR, SPICE and EVERYTHING NICE – and we all like nice things.  Then again, she went to twitter to reach digital natives and, mind you,  she even guest blogged and re-blogged it on her own site. Did IVY ask girls to go to EXOTICA to get the flowers? No, they went out to  the most up and coming place – Gemmayze, Achrafieh and Hamra. The only thing that could’ve been done differently would be  giving out roses all around Lebanon, and not just Beirut.

4-Empower and you shall be empowered

Even if they did not comment, retweet or send emails, thought they actively do, with every dating tip IVY empowered ladies to take actions. Girls, being the gossip machines they are, would discuss it – which means GOING VIRAL offline. And then again with every rose given out to a guy Exotica created a positive sentiment, that is teh first step to along lasting relationship, not with the guy, but with the brand. And come 2011 I expect more girls to send out flowers to beau’s, and now, not because they[roses] are free, but because it makes them feel good. And this is the golden key to any successful brand. And did I mention the publicity, Ivy’s campaign is getting from mainstream media?

5-Going against the current and bringing the currents together

There are two stakeholders in any relationship – MAN & WOMAN. Exotica’s outdoors visuals empowered men, by teasing them with images of women they could have had in 2o09 if only they were brave enough. While Ivy, took a less traditional approach, and she looked to empower women. Mind you, women are not traditionally the ones we think first of when we think about selling flowers, right? But then again, I have seen countless times flowers being delivered to men at our offices from girlfriends, wives or wanna-bes. And then again, think of it, if a girl gives a guy one rose before valentine, and the guy likes the girl, on Valentine he will get her no less than a bouquet and what will his 1st choice be? Certainly EXOTICA. So you see, by bringing people together and spreading love Exotica may actually have record sales on February 14.

Finally,  I want to congratulate Exotica on the Brilliant Initiative and hope that IVY , whoever she is, continues blogging even after February 14, otherwise the digital natives all around, both those who think IVY is Real and Fake, will feel beguiled and disappointed.

Googling I found this song called IVY SAYS, I wonder if it had anything to do with the origin of the campaign.

Advertisements

It has been a long time since I have published a tangible post and a lot has been happening in the media scene in Lebanon. And a lot of exciting things have been taking place in the Lebanese Social Media Scene…

I have got the best news for you: the educational sector is finally catching on on the gap between the dogmas and the realities. This Spring Ayman Itani will be giving a course in LAU on Media, Culture and Technology. The course will provide an in-depth overview of everything out there for complete beginners and focus on teaching  not only the how & why of  using these tools, but also the New Media Mindset empowering them with real case studies and practical work shops. Ayman also has a couple of surprises up his sleeves for the lucky students taking his course and will be updating us on their progress all through the way, so stay tuned!

Media Culture & Technology course at LAU spring 2010

Another fabulous thing is that traditional media has now also acknowledged the new media channels and with the help of Social Media enthusiasts like Amer Tabsh it is starting to get the coverage it deserves. Below are Video Clips from a Live show on Lebanese Future TV interviewing Maya Zankoul, Samer Karam and Ayman Itani regarding their twitter addictions. Hopefully this will encourage new active Lebanese twitter users as well as companies to experiment with twitter and other media.

In other news, you can check my Bloggers FaceOff on Chanty’s blog.

So what’s new in your lives my dears?

Resisting Change

Photo by the fantastic Naeema Zareef (twitter.com/naeema)

Two events have been the highlight of the last week of 2009 for me. One of them was my darling’s stiff resistance of the flu and the other was a live encounter with a typical Marketing Manager 1.0. And , eventually, yours truly got to celebrate the assent of the new year in bed with fever as well… making the lessons learned from these two encounters all the more vivid.

1)Ignore it, Maybe it’ll go away

Years of evolution have not killed the breadwinner’s instinct in men, which even stands above the instinct of self preservation. When your man falls sick, he would always keep on going to work, as usual, doing all his house chores in an exemplary manner, without admitting that something is wrong. I suppose in ancient tribes, the sick were isolated or cast out of the villages & left to die alone. So God forbid for your man to admit that something is wrong. But what goes in the manager’s 1.0’s head is beyond my understanding. M1.0 says that the marketing has not changed and that the foundations and underlying rules still remain valid, he has a moment of truth when he condescends to admit that advertising has changed, and then he switches back to denial by saying that advertising is only a part of marketing, he goes back to touching on changing customer needs, but breaks off at specifics… And, of course, in the same manner that prince charming audaciously refuses to take a sick day and stay in bed, M1.0 would say, – “We do not need a website now, we’ll start working on it in a couple of months, we’re studying our competition for now.” But by the time they are weakened and overpowered by their disease, the first would’ve plowed through a week of 20% productivity at work and then lying in bed for 2 days to recuperate and another week and a half of insane coughing, which is a significant trade off for staying at home for two days, as I did, and then going back to work a 100% recharged.  And our M1.0 Would greatly benefit said competitors by not having a significant online presence by as much as he will frustrate his prospects, who would be unable to find a way to contact them and find out more about their products. And no, a Facebook page is not as good as Corporate website (if you disagree with that, let me know, I’d be more than happy to share my views!).

2) Time Heals everything

Mon Beau will tell you that it takes seven days to cure a flu anyhow, so why bother and put your life on hold? M1.0 says that brand awareness will come with time, after my comment about missing opportunities 5 months after market entry. Well, in my dictionary, one week equals, on average, 70 tweets, 3 blogposts, and a possible email marketing or other online campaign. Multiply that by 5 and you will have thousands of touchpoints with your clients that come at a fraction of a cost of traditional media. Maybe our generation is too aggressive, but less than a month in my new job, I am already feeling unproductive for not bringing in more value and having to cram up on literature/research 50% of my time and that is precisely why, I use the remaining 50% to make actionable change NOW. In my eye, less is more in the long run, and little things done now, be it a greeting card, sms, news release… may not just prevent you from LOSING an existing client, but also get you a new client TODAY!

3) Expenditure = ROI

When hubby does reach a pharmacy, after 5 days, he’ll sweep off the shelves everything  that can remotely help him, or at least that is what he thinks. But by that time, the poles have shifted and all he needs to do is really wait, sip orange juice and rest to recover, instead of ingesting antibiotics which will further drain his life -resources. M1.o will also go to extremes, after 5 months, hiring top models, pampering them and doing runway shows, publishing ads in glitzy magazines… in two words maniacally spending!  But same-same, time would’ve done its thing, and that extra investment would’ve been too little too late! But that does not mean that you shouldn’t still take in your vitamins regularly. Don’t wait until you get a soar throat to take action. Act now, act always! Because,

4) Nobody Cares about YOU, as much as You!

Your boss is not going to give you a day off when you are saying you are a little sick but already came to work, and your clients are not going to run 20 google searches, searching for your coordinates if you landing page, facebook page, twitter handle or corporate website have not been SEO and keyword optimized. And if your marketing campaign does not relate to me, your target client, and if I do not find what I want about you, no money in the world would buy you my consumer’s sentiment and loyalty. And beware, I am too studying your competitors, and so far , they are ahead of you.

5) Birds do it, bees do it…

Men have this secret solidarity pact about enduring illness at the office, when I used to take a sick day at my previous job, I sometimes felt my boss took it as a personal offense. On the other hand, my spouse’s boss can call him while he’s sick saying, – “Aren’t you man enough, chuck on some pills and get on going!”. Bizarre and unacceptable, but, nonetheless true! But, even if denial is the trend, you should take advantage of it. While everyone is “hachooing” at the office, retreat and come back rosy cheeked and productive. And while your competitors are stuck in their old ways, you have the time to experiment, innovate and advance! Your mindset is your only handicap!

Post Approved for publishing by Prince Charming, M1.0 feedback pending. What about you?

patrick semaan logo Patrick is a dream guest blogger, he is someone a host blogger can only dream of. And as promised, he has made a come back and is answering all your questions about blog advertising. Also don’t forget to check out Patrick’s latest project the Gift Cheat Sheet,  that is available for free download, and follow him on twitter.


Read the rest of this entry »

I want to say a big thank you to Patrick for being so excited about this guest post and sharing his expertise, tips and tricks related to advertising on blogs. But there is much more ground to cover, and Patrick has generously answer all questions we may have in second Q&A post. I will leave you with the post for now, but do not forget to check out Patrick’s blog – Projekt Cyan, his Portfolio as well as his many amazing projects. You can also check out Patrick’s amazing work space over at the #MYDESK post and do not forget to follow him on Twitter.

Advertising on your blog. A sin or a win?

Ethical? Un-ethical?

Advertising on blogs has been increasing dramatically over the past two years.  Individual entrepreneurs and companies are encouraged more and more to advertise their products and services on blogs and social networking sites that are currently flooding the internet.

There have been many “to advertise or not to advertise” arguments emerging within the blog world recently.  Some who are against the trend believe that advertising spots on your personal blog somehow force your loyal readers to be distracted or redirected by views or products that are not always useful or ethical.  Others think advertising is fine because it brings in revenue and puts your blog high up on the “super blog” ladder.

It works for me

I am a blogger who rents advertising spots on my design blog.  When I first started blogging three years ago the idea of advertising on my blog was out of question.  In addition to the reasons against blog ads I mentioned above, I also thought it would be unfair to my readers that I would be making money off their loyalty.

But eventually I began to look at it from a different perspective.  Some people read my blog on occasion, others visit it everyday, while some actually view it multiple times during the day; all of these visitors use the flow of information posted on it for various purposes.  Some read my posts to keep abreast of what’s going on in the design world, others are looking for a particular piece of information that I have posted about, and still others simply visit my blog for entertainment purposes.  In other words, my blog is essentially a medium that is constantly streaming a range of information that is being shared, commented on, and used by readers for both knowledge and entertainment.

So I concluded that if my readers are actually somehow benefiting from my blog, they probably would not mind if I benefited from it as well.

How does the money help?

Revenue from advertising can help pay the web hosting fees and can be used to buy resources to maintain and develop the blog, both of which help keep my blog running and active at all times for my readers to enjoy.  So in the end, it’s a win-win situation for both your readers and yourself.

some ad banners projektcyan.com - Patrick Semaan's blog

Which way to go to sell advertising space?

There are multiple ways to advertise on your blog.  Three of these are most popular, and based on my own experience I will share with you what I think are the good and the bad about each:

1-Google AdSense – The famous Google tool for advertising on the internet.

You start by opening an account with AdSense (you can access it using your existing Gmail account).  You can then add and configure your blog or website in your dashboard, select various shapes and sizes of advertising banners, and then get the codes to paste on your blog.  AdSense will then monitor and scan your blog contents to publish related ads in the areas you have specified for       advertising and depending on the “impressions” on your blog.  AdSense will publish static text ads or actual pre-designed adverts from various parties, and you get paid for the amount of clicks generated from these ads.

The good:

  • It’s easy to maintain and run.  All you have to do is paste the generated codes on your blog and it does all the work for you by posting ads and redirecting your readers accordingly.
  • Money collecting is hassle free: you get your money every month or however often you choose in your settings.

The bad:

  • Too many people are using it, meaning that the ads are spread out over a wider audience, which in the long run means that you won’t get paid that much.  Your website would have to have a really big “impression” number to start seeing enough money to make it worth it.
  • Text ads do not really look good and are nowadays ignored by internet users/surfers.

2-Third Party Market Place (I call them third party engines hereafter).

They are several market place websites or bulk-advertising buyers who can offer you similar advertising schemes for your blog.  They work very similarly to Google in the sense that they gives you the codes to generate ads on your blog, and based on the criteria you fill in your settings it will start feeding ads to your blog.  They also pay you money depending on how much impressions/clicks each of your ads generates. These third party engines work for both publishers and advertisers.  The third party market place websites I sometimes use are: BuySellAds.com and AdBrite.com

The good:

  • It’s easy to maintain and run.  All you have to do is paste the generated codes on your blog and it does all the work for you by posting ads and redirecting your readers accordingly.
  • Money collecting is hassle free: you get your money every month or however often you choose in your settings.
  • A little easier to use and less complicated than Google Adsense.

The bad:

  • Too many people are using it, meaning that the ads are spread out over a wider audience, which in the long run means that you won’t get paid that much.  Your website would have to have a really big “impression” number to start seeing enough money to make it worth it.
  • Text ads do not really look good and are nowadays ignored by internet users/surfers.

3-Do it yourself

If you can manage to do it all yourself, this is the best method of all and is what I personally prefer to do.  You get to decide where the advertising spots are on your blog layout, rate these different spots and catch potential advertisers yourself, and provide your clients with your specific blog statistics.  Sometimes if your blog is very popular you won’t need to publicize it: companies will actually come to you asking to advertise on your blog.

The good:

  • Gives you better control over what is being advertised and by whom.
  • You set your own fair rates based on your blog statistics.
  • You get paid a fixed rate based on your blog stats rather than on the number of clicks on the ad.
  • You can create your own advertising period schemes (so, per month, per quarter, annual, or seasonal).
  • Based on all of these advantages, you end up making more revenue than with the previous two options listed above.

The bad:

  • You have to manage the advertising slots and schedules yourself, which can be a bit tedious.
  • You have to manage payment collections yourself.
  • You won’t have any guarantees that clients will pay you on time unless you bind your clients with a contract.

Oh and by the way, you can also place advertising slots in your feeds!  This is very useful since a lot of people nowadays read blogs through their feeds.

Some tips for doing it yourself:

At the beginning you might need to give out some slots for free.  Identify potential advertisers who you think might be interested in advertising on your blog and approach them.  For example, if your blog is about food you should pitch to restaurants, fast-food chains, or even household electronic showrooms that sell kitchen gadgets.  Present your blog to them, tell them what it’s all about, show them your stats, and then offer them a free trial package such as a full month of free advertising for one of their products or a new menu item.  After a month or so, if your blog is getting the right audience they will recognize that this advertisement they placed on your blog helped increase their sales and they will want to continue advertising with you.

Interact with your client regularly; suggest some advertising ideas or campaigns from time to time (particularly at the start of certain holidays or seasons like Ramdan, Eid, or Christmas).

Remember that you are doing it all yourself, which means you have to know how much each available slot is being rented for, and for how long.  You also have to remind your client in advance that their advertising period will be ending soon and suggest renewing their contract.

Once you start advertising on your blog you have to keep your blog active with fresh contents all the time, as you need to keep those readership stats high.  The higher the stats, the more you can sell, and for higher prices.

Is it all worth it?

If it works out well then it is absolutely worth it.  You can make good money out of advertising – not only enough to pay your hosting, maintenance, and resources fees, but also to buy those geeky gadgets you always wanted!

Once again big THANKS to Patrick! And readers bring on the question while you have the chance !

I’m a naturally curious being, and I like to know what my readers know and who they are. And part of that is learning how they represent themselves in the www. And, I have noticed that several of my commentators do not have Gravatars, which needs to be addressed!

What is a Gravatar? Globally Recognized Avatar, that will represent you throughout the web, as it is associated with your e-mail. This interactive video explains it all!

You do not to be a blogger or an active Social Media Addict to be visible and identifiable. Remember, a Gravatar is a part of your personal brand.

Let me see what you look like – Get your Gravatar!

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