Twitter Fails, Changes TOS and Outlaws Automated Follow Back

 

Sometimes these social networks seem to have too much time on their hands. Twitter recently changed their terms of service that now disallows automated follow back. Many third party companies had provided an automated follow back service. So if 50 twitter users followed you and automated follow back was setup for your account, these users would be followed backed without any manual action.

Social Oomph users were alerted late last night (July 4th) of the bad news.

Twitter Fail

E-Mail received from Social Oomph

Please note that on July 2nd, 2013, Twitter changed their terms of service and outlawed automated following back of people who followed you first.

Unfortunately we have no choice but to modify our system to comply with Twitter’s new rules.

Hence, from Monday, July 8th, 2013, the manual vetting option of new followers will be automatically enabled on all accounts that currently have the auto-follow option enabled. If you do not manually approve the follow-back, as Twitter now requires, then the follow-back will not take place.

Should Twitter in the future decide to again allow auto-follow-back, we would be more than happy to restore the auto-follow-back service that you have found so useful for such a long time. We’re as dumb-founded by Twitter’s decision as you are.

Twitter Fails

While many Twitter users don’t use this handy tool, those that do will now be forced to manually follow. This is tedious exercise, and a total waste of time. If you only have a small number of users follow you each day then it won’t take you long, but if you have hundreds or thousands of users following each day this is really bad news.

Oh the joy of the following each new follower, one by one, click by click, will be welcomed by so many users. This creates such an inefficient process. Spending any time on this is a waste, but the larger your account the bigger the blow.

If you’re going to follow everyone that follows you than there should be an automated option. Most using this automation had a process to cleanse the bots, eggs, and other unsavory users. So hard to understand why Twitter reached this decision, makes no sense at all. Stop changing the TOS just for the sake of change. You dropped the ball here Twitter. #Fail, #Fail, #Fail.

If you were using a service to automatically auto-follow, let me know how disgusted you feel.

How to Conduct a 4-Step Audit of Your Marketing Materials

 

Most small businesses cannot afford to consult a marketing professional at every turn. Still, conducting a periodic audit of your marketing materials is a great way to ensure your brand has a memorable presence in the marketplace. This simple four-step process will allow you to ensure your materials measure up to the task.

Before you begin, review your business objectives. Consider your mission and vision, and review long- and short-term goals. Have these at hand for easy reference as you conduct your audit. Ultimately, it’s these objectives your marketing materials are intended to support. Also have in front of you your marketing plan and any information about how and when the materials are used. Be clear about all of this going into the audit.

Check for Consistency

Read through all the materials once to get a fresh overview of how they work together. Consistency is key. Look for consistency in two different ways: a) are the materials consistent among themselves; and b) are all materials consistent with the brand? Starting with the first question, review the materials to make sure that the design, style, language and images all tell a consistent story. For example, the color scheme should be consistent from your website to your business cards to any flyers you distribute.

If you are reviewing multiple campaigns, do they connect to each other, and what do they have in common? What they should have in common is a consistent representation of the brand. And by brand, we don’t just mean the design and logo. This brings us to the second point. Your brand includes not only the logo and design, but also the content. The content should be consistent with the brand identity and clearly convey the brand promise.

Keep Materials Current

Keeping your target audience in mind, ask yourself if the colors and messaging feels current or outdated. Today’s customers are savvy and culturally literate. They know outdated when they see it. As in the fashion world, trends dominate the marketing landscape. Keep up with them. Ideally, your company should be on the leading edge, setting trends instead of following them. No matter what you decide, having an understanding of current marketing trends will keep you from appearing passé or just plain tired. Just imagine how the burgundy and navy design combinations favored by the corporations of the 1990s would play with audiences today.

Make Your Messages Memorable

Your materials need to have an impact that lasts. Any American who was a child in the ‘80s is sure to remember Wendy’s famous “Where’s The Beef?” campaign—it’s unforgettable. So, too, is the new Häagen-Dazs Marketing Campaign for their limoncello Gelato. At once unbelievably irritating and completely unforgettable, this campaign is the epitome of “sticky” campaigns.

As Häagen Dazs demonstrates, a campaign needn’t be enjoyable to wedge itself into the collective memory. Just be sure it’s consistent with your brand and doesn’t turn off your target audience.

Inspire Action

Your brand must touch the customer personally, or they won’t buy. Your marketing materials are your opportunity to make contact with your customers. Brain research tells us that motor imagery (the visualization of taking an action) has a measurable impact on actual behavior, improving practice and increasing motivation. It stands to reason that if you can get customers to imagine using your product or service, you’re one step closer to a sale.

Irritating or not, the Gelato campaign achieves this goal by presenting the viewer with a host of attractive mouths repeating the product’s name in an overtly sexy tone. It’s likely many people who watch the video even end up repeating the name of the ice cream themselves. And once the viewer’s imagination is primed, the tagline “even the name tastes good” reinforces the association between the product’s name and deliciousness.

Of course, companies don’t just rely on catchy slogans or brilliant marketing ideas. If you want to know whether your materials inspire action, keep statistics on their effectiveness. Testing your materials by tracking their effectiveness (via sales data and social media response) may or may not give you a perfectly accurate picture of what customers will do in response to future efforts, but it will provide invaluable information you can use to target your content more effectively. As you go through your materials, be sure look at your sales compared with the date and scope of release for each piece of marketing. Check social media responses to the piece; are reactions positive? Negative? Non-existent? Being proactive about data collection and management is likely to give you a much better grasp of your materials’ impact.

Conducting your audit will not guarantee success. Often you will be left, at best, with an educated guess about what will capture the attention of your target audience and motivate them to buy. Being thorough in your analysis will allow you to be as educated as you can.

Whatever you do, don’t take your foot off the pedal. Once your materials are released, be vigilant about tracking their effectiveness in every location and medium, and be ready to shift course if the situation calls for it. With these measures, and a little luck, your marketing materials will translate to better and bigger sales.

Janis Bookout is a freelance writer and branding facilitator from Austin, Texas, with experience in social media. She has written manuals, curricula, web content, and blogs. Janis has more than ten years of experience in the field of personal and professional development, training others in accountability, team management, leadership and brand implementation. She is also a professional artist and co-founder of a teaching software company, and is a regular contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com.

Don’t Blame QR Codes for Bad Marketing Ideas

 

I may not have been the first to write about QR codes but I was one of the first ten, and that’s being humble about seeing the web links as a brilliant marketing tool.

So, whenever I hear someone write about how QRs stink, or are a waste, or even how they are already obsolete, I just shake my head. I check out the writer’s company and make a note to never deal with that person or company.

Yes, like a chainsaw in the hands of the Three Stooges, most marketing geniuses are set to cut off something important when they use QR codes. They see the inclusion of a code, rather than how it works in the grand scheme of marketing a product or service.

It’s like a client who thinks merely using vast areas of a jolly red color will scream Christmas on a package or ad and ignoring the design, copy, and image used to reach the consumer. Some say a poor workman blames his tools. The truth is stupidity cannot be defended by blaming a QR code any more than blaming a link to be clicked. It’s not the link but the content to which it is tied.

QR Codes for Marketing

via uQR.me

In my years of experience with large corporations, I’ve had my share of head shaking when someone in marketing exclaims that some technology will be used for a “WOW! factor” without knowing the possibilities of the technology. They are so fast to blame everyone else for the failure when it inevitably happens.

I’ve seen corporate presidents and vice presidents burst into meetings, demanding some odd marketing idea, based on personal ideas and not reality, then run out with a look of self-satisfaction for saving a major initiative, only to return and point a finger when their idea fails and suddenly becomes someone else’s idea.

This is the failing of the QR code. Like a loaded automatic weapon in the hands of Jerry Lewis as the Nutty NRA Intern.

 

Where are the Supposed QR Code Replacements?

Most of the QR code detractors mention Augmented Reality (AR) and Near Field Communications (NFC) as better and more functional technologies for print to web linking. AR and NFC are great technologies, but they have different functions as well as expenses not shared by QR codes.

A QR code can be generated for free whereas AR involves almost a movie production-like cost and effort. They can provide linking as well as the entertainment value of interactive imagery. However, they have not been used infrequently and organizations that have dabbled with AR content stopped, mostly due to the costs involved.

AR also has, as people tout, image recognition that QR codes lack. Time has removed that argument as now QR codes are able to function on almost full image recognition, except people must know the image is tied to a function if they are expected to scan them.

Users have not, it seems, caught up with the technology in knowing images may contain links without some kind of notice. Once it becomes a regular occurrence that might be a game changer. For now at least, the code or the frame of a code with an image is the technology users know, and are willing to scan.

NFC holds certain challenges that limit its applicability. Applied mostly to credit cards and pass keys, the ability to swipe and register, or call up information requires close proximity. NFC lacks the flexibility that QR and AR enjoy.

The cost of implanting a NFC device into each and every printed poster, ad, flyer or whatever would generate huge costs. A QR code is just ink on paper or a digital image.

 

Limitations are the Fault of the Producer

QR codes do have limitations. All of them, however, involve the ability to scan the code. A code that is too small, too far away, or on a moving object, won’t allow a user to get out their smart phone in time to scan the code.

Placement has always been a consideration for any print piece, and has long had the problem of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Who says marketers have always been at the top of their game? Is every advertisement successful?

The proper use of any technology is dependent on the proper use of the tool. Somewhat like my father, who used the good kitchen knives as a screwdriver for small household jobs. All of our knives had broken tips and dulled blades, making it harder to cook and a life of dodging shelves that fell off the walls.

The reality is that QR, AR, and NFC all have their place in digital marketing. All three need to be used correctly. Eventually they, as well as other emerging technology, will shape marketing.

 

It’s All About the Content!

A repeated complaint nay-sayers have about QR codes is that they take the user to a web site when it’s faster to just enter a URL. Not necessarily, but it’s a point well-taken. With QR codes, as with any marketing, it’s interesting content that is needed to engage consumers. Can anyone argue that point?

An early example of unique QR use was the résumé of a young man who placed a code over a picture of his face with instructions to place the user’s phone over the mouth of the picture. The code revealed a video of his mouth, talking about himself. The content used the technology well.

Others took the idea and ran with it, such as this talking comic book cover.

A recent video for Audi, lovingly referred to as “Spock vs. Spock” missed a great opportunity to incorporate QR codes into the marketing. You’ve probably seen this viral video posted on Facebook.

A great use of viral marketing, but it missed the chance to take the marketing further for greater market penetration.

It should have started with a QR code on an ad for the car model in the video with copy that celebrated the futuristic technology, and a reference to Star Trek. The video should have finished with a QR code to a web page for the car model, explaining the standard and optional features available.

Those who discovered the video through the ad would have posted it to social media channels, and those who watched the viral video would have had a link to see more about the product. THAT is the proper use for a QR code!

Speaking of cars, what do you do when you need to park at a street meter and don’t have any change? Some meters will allow you to use a credit card, which invites card fraud.

There’s a growing use of QR codes for paying parking.

Parking QR Code

A quirky advertising campaign in Japan would be perfect for QR codes.

Japanese Legs

japanleg2

japanleg3

Instead of just these quick look ads, a QR code would give men a chance to scan the young ladies’ leg and go to wherever the advertiser wanted the consumer to go (probably a used women’s underwear sales site, if I know male Japanese consumers).

QR code tattoos are risky, however. If you go that far, make sure the code is recyclable.

tattocode

When there’s not a lot of room for information that is vital, use a QR code. This plant has special needs, so a QR code gives the consumer all they need to decide if they can actually keep the plant alive for more than a week.

plant

And those medical bracelets people wear to identify allergies and medical conditions are uncomfortable and have limited space for what might be a long list of problems.

With a neoprene QR code bracelet would include:

A full Medical History
Name
Address
Emergency Contact Information
Organ Donor Status
Last Will and Testament

bracelet

These bracelets are also being used in hospitals for patient identification bracelets for comprehensive up-to-the minute information.

 

Do QR Codes Demand Different Thinking?

The basics of marketing will never change. Only the tools available will change and evolve, but basic principles of marketing will always be the same — make it easier for the customers to know and purchase the product. So, don’t blame the tool when it doesn’t work. It’s not the codes but how they are used.

Speider Schneider is the chief blogger for uQR.me, with offices in the U.S., Argentina, and Italy. He also writes about web design, technology, social media, and business ethics for global blogs.