BlogPageWelcome to my blog -- Grace's Rantings

I have made a study of human communication -- interpersonal as well as mass media.  I am intrigued by tremendous changes in human interaction in recent years.  The computer, Internet, smart phones and social media have dramatically changed the way we interact with each other.  Human discourse hasn't changed, but the mediums by which we communicate have..."and that has made all the difference".

 

Please share your thoughts and join in the discussion. I welcome your input and comments!

 

Subscription Commerce

Here's a new idea and a new marketing term -- Subscription Commerce 

Cravebox is a membership service offering "crave worthy products" to their members.  Membership to the service is free.  Boxes are filled with products, doodads and supplies focused around a theme. Members are notified as soon as each new box is available, and they have about a week to enter a drawing to win the box.

Most of the winners are chosen at random. But a small number of the boxes are set aside for our CraveBox's active members - those who "tweet and blog and post and upload photos and videos about CraveBox" -- free advertising!

Cravebox is also partnering with magazine publishers.  Subscribers to the magazine, as well as Cravebox members can purchase the magazine's Cravebox (for about $10) and will receive products from advertisers.

Cooking Light will be offering Craveboxes this month.  The Cooking Light Cravebox will include 7 "family friendly" items, including Green Mountain Coffee, McCormick Spices and a Dole fruit product.

For advertisers, the cost is less than a full page ad and for now, they are guaranteeing catgory exclusivity.

A Holiday on the Rise

Cashing in on Halloween

Have you noticed how people are now decorating their houses with orange lights in October and how Halloween cards and candy show up earlier and in greater quantity?

Halloween is becoming a major holiday!

It turns out that Halloween spending as been steadily increasing since 2004, and not just on kids.  We now spend $2.9 billion on costumes (many of those for adults), $2.4 billion on decorations $2.3 billion on candy and $59 million on greeting cards.

Even with all this spending, Halloween is an inexpensive holiday compared with Christmas, Easter or Valentine's Day, as Halloween doesn't involve gifts (besides bags of candy) or big family meals!

And, it comes as no surprise that this year, Big Bird costumes were a big hit!  HalloweenCostumes.com sold out of their Big Bird costumes within 3 days of the first presidential debate, and Google searches for "big bird costume" jumped 600% following the debate!

Can You Hear Me Know?

It's not news that mobile use has skyrocketed with no end in site.  Use of smart phones and tablets has risen 25% and 154% respectively in just the last year alone!  It is projected that by 2016 in the US alone, there will be 192 million smart phone users (50% of the population) and 133 million tablet users (41%) of the US population.  WOW.

But just how are we using our mobile devises? The number one activity is sending text messages, followed by taking photos:

How US Consumers use their mobile devises
     
  Smart Phones All Mobile Devises
Sent Text Message 89.9% 75.0%
Took Photos 82.6% 62.3%
Used an Application 89.3% 51.4%
Used Browser 84.7% 50.2%
Used e-mail 78.2% 43.5%
Accessed Weather 67.4% 38.3%
Accessed Search 60.0% 34.3%
Played Games 64.3% 36.9%
Accessed Maps 60.0% 34.3%
Listened to Music 55.3% 33.4%
Accessed News 49.1% 27.4%
Accessed Bank Accounts 37.8% 20.9%
Accessed Movie Information 30.4% 17.0%
     
*Source: ComScore MobiLens, April-June 2012  

I know I've used  my phone and tablet for all these things!  But I also use my smart phone to TALK ON THE PHONE!!  Am I becoming obsolete?

Do You Tweet?

I still can’t quite figure out what’s up with twitter. 

I use twitter.  In fact I have 2 accounts, one for my professional persona and another for my personal use.  But with the speed that thing come into twitter, I can’t possibly read all the tweets that I receive.  When I look at my page (or whatever it is called), I typically glance at 15-20 tweets.  Often I click through to a url then that’s it, I’m gone.

If that is typical, then people and businesses who tweet in an attempt to promote their website, blog, latest seminar, etc., must have to re-tweet their message over and over again, just adding to the clutter.

As a matter of fact this is indeed the case.  HubSpot reports that companies that tweet 10-50 times a day have the most followers!  And they state that 22 tweets per day is optimum.  They also recommend that tweets are set up to automatically publish for best results.

This practice disconcerts me.   It seems that no one is manning the ship at twitter.  Random copy, special offers, links to Blog posts, and Facebook updates are automatically posted to twitter on a predetermined schedule many, many times a day by large companies trying to be social with me!  If it’s all automated, there is no personal touch; it is simply another form of broadcasting a message to the audience.  The only difference is that the audience has signed up to receive the message.   But, with so many people and businesses are shouting out their 140 character messages, is anyone being heard?

I'd love to hear your thoughts, please let me know how you use twitter and if you find it useful.

Facebook….Do you Love it or Hate it?

I love it.  Well maybe love is too strong a word.  But as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I thoroughly enjoy keeping up with friends and relatives on Facebook.  Sure we all have some of those friends who feel the need to post about everything – what they had for breakfast, how great their kids are, what they think of the political scene, how their farm is doing, etc. etc. etc.

And if you are like me, you probably added some old high school and college acquaintances as friends.   Funny, in 30 years our lives didn’t intersect now we can keep up with each other via Facebook.

But here is where the magic of Facebook comes in…  Last night I reconnected (in person) with a friend I first met in 1977 at our college orientation!  She was the first person I met college and we became good friends.  Then we graduated and went our separate ways.  I hadn’t seen or communicated with her in decades.  We reconnected a few years back on Facebook.  Come to find out she travels to my area frequently, and we decided to meet for dinner.

What a wonderful reunion!  We laughed when we saw each other and said, “How do you catch up on 30 years?”  Well we did our best, laughing, talking, and sharing a bottle of wine ….   It was as if the years hadn’t intervened and we were right back in our dorm room!

Without Facebook we would never have met up with each other again.  We would have continued in our own worlds and lost the friendship we once had.

This social connection, this power of bringing people together, of reconnecting with old friends,  is what Facebook is all about for me.

Are QR Codes in Your Future?

QR codes are popping up everywhere.  On Real Estate listings, movie posters, automobile ads, even ketchup bottles.  (For some basic info on QR codes check out this post from The Tech in Me.)

But like any good idea, once marketers embrace it, they beat us over the head with it.

 

I was reading a report that said that merchants are really embracing QR codes.  47% of the merchants surveyed said they are using QR codes.  Just one year ago, only 8% reported using them.  An additional 15% of merchants are not currently using QR codes but are planning on doing so in the near future.

 

But, let me ask you, how often do you pull out your phone, open the QR reader, snap a shot of the QR code and then read the material provided?  I did it once on the ketchup bottle to see what was so interesting about ketchup.  The page didn’t open on my cell phone in the restaurant.

How do you use QR codes as a marketer?

How do you use them as a consumer?

Written a Letter Recently?

This year, I took up a challenge to write 52 letters in 52 weeks.  I initially read about the idea on a friend of a friend's blog-- I know, how "old school".

[caption id="attachment_677" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net"][/caption]

But I enjoy getting mail that isn't a bill or advertising, so I thought it might be a fun way to communicate with friends and family.

I have really enjoyed the project.  Not to say that I have actually sent a letter each week!  But I have sent two or three some weeks so hopefully that makes up for the skipped weeks.

When I sit down to write a letter, I start by glancing at my address book (again, old school!) and seeing whose name pops out at me.  Then I start with the perfunctory:
"Hi, how are you doing"  and then from there I ask them about their family and work and before I know it I'm adding tidbits about my recent activities, my family, books I've read, movies I've seen, etc.

I really feel like I'm having  a cup of coffee and visiting with the person I am writing too.

Now when I see funny cards or pretty note paper, instead of just thinking, oh so and so would like that, I actually buy the card and send it to them with a personal note!

Taking the time to write to a friend is a totally different experience than dashing off a quick e-mail or clicking "like" on their Facebook post.  I think the act of  thinking about what I am are going to say, and writing it down changes the experience, proving once again that the medium is the message.

Are Millennials Reading Newspapers?

Yes, it seems that Millennials do indeed read newspapers, although not regularly.

According to the Pew State of Media Study, as reported by NPR Research, 23% of Millennials aged 18-24 reported having read a physical newspaper yesterday.  However, these Millennials are not frequent or regular newspaper readers.

As the following chart shows, while 27% of Millennials have read a newspaper 1-3 times in the past month, but only 8% are regular readers, having read a newspaper 25 times or more per month.  Looking at all adults, 40% can be defined as heavy readers, having read a paper at least every other day (16 or more times a month), while only 22% of those aged 18-24 are heavy newspaper readers.

[caption id="attachment_642" align="alignnone" width="416" caption="NPR Audience Insight & Research"]

Additionally, these heavy newspaper readers are 75% more likely than light or non readers to hold a graduate degree, and to be Influential in their communities.  And so, these newspaper reading young adults are a desirable audience for marketers.

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