Psyching out

You know what my big soap box of 2010 appears to be? There is nothing new in the world of the psychology of learning. Just a few days ago I wrote a post about it. Today Ellen Reynolds from Dachis group wrote a post describing Kate Niederhoffer’s presentation about the psychology of teaching people new behaviors. The takeaway: People adopt a new way of doing things (like participating in social media) over time more easily when they are rewarded rather than punished.

If you’ve ever learned about animal training, you already know that’s true: the most effective way to create a new behavior long-term is to ignore undesired behaviors and react immediately and visibly to desired behaviors. From an operant conditioning standpoint, that’s positive reinforcement. Once you establish the new behavior and you want to see it happen more often, you change how often you reward the behavior. So once you’ve got people participating, your start varying the rate at which you reward them. In other words, surprise them with rewards if you want to encourage long-term change. Positive reinforcement changes behaviors and keeps people (and animals) motivated.

And that’s why Kate is so impressive (and rare): science has its place in business. It just takes someone both practical and “on their toes” like her to see it and call it out.

One more thing Nestle should have done…

Great post today from Sean McDonald (formerly of Dell) about 4 things Nestle should have done better to avoid their current social media fiasco.

I can think of a fifth: don’t put an intern in charge of your social media program. (I think Jeremiah already alluded to this in his blog) News flash: Social marketing is real marketing, people. If you don’t “get” social media yet, take the time to figure it out.

If you want to be brave, get people to do something new

Make natural behaviors happen more frequently …But if you want to be smart, figure out what they do naturally and see if you can get more people to do it, or get people to do it more often.

From an operant conditioning standpoint, it’s a lot easier to train established behaviors to happen on cue, a lot harder to shape an entirely new behavior. How do I know? I used to teach a Marine Mammal Behavior and Training class at SDSU Extended Studies during my many years of working in Education at SeaWorld.

Some of the “easier” training at SeaWorld happens when trainers see the animal doing a behavior they’d like to repeat on cue. They reinforce the behavior immediately, which increases the likelihood of the behavior happening again. (Kind of like kindergarten teachers give “caught you being good” awards)

So there you go: license to be a little lazy/smart: to increase your success rate, focus your marketing efforts on doing something you know happens organically.

The End of Word of Mouth? Absurd.

This is the stuff I hate about Twitter. Because Edelman posted this story in Adage about people trusting their friends less for advice, now I have to deal with theinevitable onslaught of people tweeting about it, forwarding it, and generally jumping on the bandwagon to trumpet the end of people trusting their friends and family.

Except of course the notion that basic human nature has been overridden by social media is ridiculous. And you’ll have to come up with a whole lot better than self-reported survey results to convince me otherwise.

Real social marketing strategy

Every time I see an article about the “Top 5 Twitter strategies” I roll my eyes a little. And my stomach turns a little Why? Because it perpetuates the notion that people who “get” the notion of “social” believe that strategy=tactics. And *that* hurts my long-term mobility. And frankly, it cheapens the last 5 years of my work life.

So when I see a story about strategy that includes social media as a meaningful “how,” to achieve the stategic “what,” I feel validation and even a little excitement. The New York Times published an article like that today – and I bet it won’t be plastered all over Twitter the way those top-5 lists are.

The story in question? ‘Blind Side’ Finds a Path to the Oscars by Running Up the Middle Have you seen the movie? I did. And frankly its Oscar nominations surprised me. Which makes me wonder how this movie got to this level of acknowlegement. The answer? Great marketing strategy: fishing where the fish are. Plot spoiler: a lot of “fish” are schooling on social media these days.

The producers identified their target audience: “sports fans, families, churchgoers and do-gooders” and figured out how to bring pieces that resonate with them (real college football coaches, a country music singer, and sermon content) to the movie. (Marketing as part of the product process – sound familiar? ) Next, they figured out how to connect that content with the target audience: blogs, online/downloadable video clips, and effectively motivated their base.

Nice work, producers. I admire your strategic thinking and execution. Social pundits, take note.

TurboTax is among AdAge’s “America’s Hottest Brands”

Today TurboTax was honored among the case studies of America’s hottest brands on AdAge. Pretty exciting to see our team’s work featured so prominently in the study: from the social media side the Super Status contest, our partnership with NBC and the offline advertising team, and finally our Twitter Google network ad were featured. Our display advertising rockstar Brian Hovis’ work got major props as well. Picture 1

A creative solution in Online Advertising

It’s great to get mentioned as a cutting-edge example of creativity – it’s one of the reasons I like working on the Online Advertising Team. A new mention crossed my path today: Mike Takahashi’s blog mentioned us for the Twitter display ad we did last year. (First ever on the Google network) 

Say, I wrote that tweet he featured. Cool! 

Harnessing the Power of Organic Emotion

Dan and Chip Heath wrote a great post today about tapping into real emotion (as opposed to creating an emotion that didn't already exist related to your product) for marketing. What's the emotion naturally associated with your product? Listen religiously to what people are saying about your brand in social media you'll instinctively know. Start with free tools: Google alerts, Twitter search, Technorati. Have the results delivered via RSS feeds to your email inbox (or where-ever you do your reading each day). 

Great listeners become great strategists because they know from a consumer standpoint 1) what's worth talking about and 2) what the emotion behind the conversation is. 

The “New” Advertising

Usually when people talk about advertising, they're thinking in "Mad Men" terms: the "we'll create a need for you and then tell you what to do about it" school of advertising. Social media has changed all that. Online social networking has ushered in a new world where word of mouth behavior and recommendations, always a huge factor in purchase decisions, is now visible and increasingly measurable online. Since a recommendation from your friend is more effective than a traditional banner ad, advertisers are taking notice.

Instead of fighting the instinctive human desire to talk to one another about experiences and products, smart marketers work cross-functionally with product teams to create ways to improve the product experience with strategically placed human conversation. The smart advertiser knows those helpful conversations are themselves, brand assets. Armed with those assets, smart advertisers find ways to deliver those helpful conversations to new people by using their distribution channels.

Best Buy's Twelpforce initiative is a great example. To improve the customer shopping experience (even before customers step foot in the store) Best Buy employees reach out to customers with questions via Twitter. They used one of their distribution channels (tv advertising) to inform the masses about this new way to engage with the brand. Smart!

TurboTax won 3 OMMA awards

TurboTax was
recognized as an industry leader during the Online Marketing and Media
Association Awards this week. Although we were delighted to be finalists in 6 categories, the celebration went to the next level when the winners were announced – 3 groovy-cool winners statues are coming to live on our team's "mantle."

Here are the categories we won in:

1. Social: Best Use of Widget – SuperStatus
To start with either of the other two awards would be less than genuine, since this is the award I personally had the most to do with. Since joining Seth's incredible Online Advertising team last year, we've been blessed to win a handful of social media accolades and awards: Ad Age's head-to-head comparison for social media, The San Diego American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year award, even the Bazaarvoice Best Overall Social Commerce Award. As thrilling as each award has been, I must say none of them has been as exciting as this: winning an OMMA award for the Widget that was the centerpiece of the SuperStatus contest. Big ups to Dailey advertising for making the whole thing possible with their great idea and design. (Not to mention nominating us)

To cap it all off, we beat HBO and Disney in this category. As a huge fan of both (we all are), we were pretty humbled by our win.

2. Rich Media: Single Execution – TurboTron
Brian Hovis – take a bow! Brian and Dailey worked their tushes off this year and it all paid off. The TurboTron banner was designed for a homepage takeover of Yahoo. It was so successful it literally ranked as the #2 most interacted-with banner of all time, plus the banner itself was incredibly creative. (Again, Dailey kicks butt).  For those who think social media and advertising don't mix, Brian took the great content created by our customer reviews, Live Community, and Super Status contest and made it part of his banner. The nature of advertising is changing in a good way, thanks to people like Brian.

3. Best Financial Services Integrated Online Media Campaign – TurboTax
More accolades for Brian Hovis.

Finally Mint.com, a company soon to be part of the Intuit family, also won an award for their outstanding blog.