Ipad Killer?


Mircosoft made a ton of noise yesterday about their impending announcement that will take place on Monday June 18th in Los Angeles. It only took a few more hours for the story to leak that their announcement will most likely be about the release of a new tablet they’ve been developing. The quote that’s been floating around the internet goes a little like this: “[An] individual with knowledge of the company said that Microsoft would introduce a…tablet at the event…put[ting] the company in direct competition with giant rival Apple.” Along with rumors of a new Mircosoft Office Suite and the tablet carrying Windows 8, we at Two Twelve Direct have come to a conclusion.

Our conclusion is not about what Mircosoft is going to say at their big conference on Monday, rather, about how they are saying it now. Give Mircosoft credit for their Apple-like attempt at creating a story around the release of this new product. It’s no secret to those in the marketing world that everything Apple does around a new release is planned down to the very last detail, even the “accidental” leaving of a iphone prototype in a coffee shop (the first time!).

An iPad Killer! Killer, what a buzz word! And most likely thought up by someone in marketing at Mircosoft and then leaked to a blogger. But that’s ok! That’s what they are supposed to do! It means Mircosoft is on the right track. They know they need to create interest in their new product by creating a story around its awesome power to defeat, nay, slay the evil Apple iPad. As we have mentioned in previous posts, the success of this product will ultimately depend on design, an area where Apple has consistently out-witted them. Functionality/technology is not main factor in the American consumers purchase decision any longer. referring to this new undescribed product as an iPad Killer was an amazing idea because just using the word “iPad” evokes feelings of great design. This leads us to believe that the only way this new product could “kill” the real iPad is by having a way cooler, simpler, design and user interface.

Either way, Mircosoft figured out that it was going to need a lot more than the product specs to create genuine interest in a new tablet and took their main competitor head on. We aren’t sure anyone can “kill” the iPad, but we definitely want to see how this story plays out, and we bet you do to.

NFC Technology

Two Twelve Direct is a full service integrated marketing company, which means we like to do it all when it comes to direct marketing. This also means we like to cover a wide range of topics on our blog, ultimately relating them back to direct marketing. One of the hottest trends in marketing, regardless of what you are selling is technology. It’s almost impossible for us to keep up with all of the technology that is emerging and usable for our marketing purposes. Whatever you happen to be selling, the core issues always remains the same, you need people to buy your product. But as we move into the future, the way that consumers purchase your products is going to change drastically.

The major change in technology that I am most excited for is NFC technology, or Near Field Communication technology. This is the technology that gives our devices the ability to communicate at close range. There are a ton of cool uses for this technology and we are excited to see how it can evolve, but the most imminent effect it will have on our society is the creation of the mobile wallet. NFC technology isn’t exactly brand new, but the mobile wallet idea has not been supported by many large merchants and has only been available in the US as the “Google Wallet” via Sprint on Samsung phones since 2010. Interestingly Sprint also just announced that it is working on its own NFC wallet which will create something of an awkward situation for the longevity and life span of the Google Wallet. This is because At&T, Verizon, and T-mobile have formed a joint venture to distribute their own mobile wallet called “Isis” and will begin rolling out in Austin, Texas and Salt Lake City,Utah this summer. For those who are interested in the politics and more detail, check out this article from the NFC Times

In terms of direct marketing, NFC technology represents a step towards the ease at which consumer will have ability to purchase directly through their televisions. People with Smart TV’s can already access the internet and use apps like Netflix or Hulu to stream video. Imagine a world where your audience watches your infomercial and then has the ability to order it instantly by holding their phone up to the remote control. Credit card number, shipping information, everything already stored and transmitted seamlessly.

It will be interesting to see how NFC technology affects the invention of new products that will all have the ability to communicate with one another through common API’s. What are your thoughts about NFC technology? How do you think NFC technology could be use to make your life easier? Do you trust a mobile wallet?


Twylah For Twitter

Many of you probably recognize the man in this slightly disturbing photo.

Good, I’m glad it got you attention. If you guessed Rainn Wilson, also know as Dwight on the office, you are correct. I stumbled across this photo earlier today when I stumbled across a new tool for twitter called “Twylah” (which I believe is pronounced Twhy-la). Rainn, along with many others, is one of the celebrities that has begun using this Twitter-aggregating, message-making, brand page organizer. It is still in an early roll out phase, and you must request an invite if you wish to join, but it looks like the product might turn out to be an extremely useful way to turn your tweets into a story-telling web page. I highly recommend watching the video below.

Some of the things Twylah can help you with:

Bring your message into focus: Automatically organized by your trending topics, Twylah pages show the world who you are and what you’re about at a glance.

Take your tweets beyond Twitter: Your tweets last about an hour on Twitter. Give your tweets much greater exposure and a significantly longer life.

Own your tweets and traffic: Host your Twylah pages on your domain and own the content and traffic.


Keep It Significant and Sharable: Twitter

You are probably familiar with the acronym K.I.S.S which stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid!” or the nicer version, “Keep It Short and Simple.” But I bet you didn’t know the term was coined by Kelly Johnson, a lead engineer for Lockheed Skunk Works, while he was helping develop some of the most insanely complicated spy planes known to man. This K.I.S.S acronym had nothing to do with social media, in fact social media wasn’t even around, but the acronym serves as a useful reminder for almost all aspects of marketing. As the amount of noise increases and people are constantly bombarded with information, it has become even more important to keep you messages concise and impactful.

The core benefit of social media is free marketing for you brand, there’s no denying that. The easiest way to get you content in front of new eyeballs is to have your fans/brand advocates share the conversation you’ve worked hard to create with their peers. Besides offering up genuinely interesting and engaging content, there are ways to optimize your tweets to make them more sharable.

Twitter definitely understood that when it comes to communication, brevity is the soul of wit. All of us are limited to 140 characters per tweet, but if your tweet uses up all 140 characters, your followers won’t be able to add personal comments to their rewteet, or send it to a friend. With limited time and shrinking attention spans, users have trained themselves to key in on buzzwords and relevant hash tags (#).  Some of the tweets receive are the most shared are the ones that encourage users to retweet. For example, this fun and rather random tweet was shared over 1965 times, but those are the types of things that people are willing to engage with. Don’t be afraid to have fun.

A retweet is the biggest form of social media flattery, and it’s important to remember that the capability to share posts on all social media sites is baked into their design. Make it easy for your users/followers to share your posts and bake it into the design of your posts when you craft them. Keep it simple and sharable.

Reducing The Noise: Twitter

As promised in a previous post, we mentioned we would be giving you guys some guidance for more success with your business and even personal Twitter accounts. With that being said, we are going to do a small series of posts that focus on helping your tweets cut through the clutter and noise to help you accomplish your social media goals, whatever they may be.

The first that needs to be made extremely clear from the get go is that you can’t get caught up in a game of numbers (this could be a whole post on its own!). As we all know, there is no precise mathematical equation for determining the ROI of a Twitter follower. There have been some studies, this one listing the monthly value of a follower at $2.38 and the monthly cost at $1.67, but any equation is quickly thrown out of the window when Bill Gates starts following you. Your goal should never be to have more Twitter followers that your main competitor. Twitter may be a digital community, but the communication is real, and your goal should be to foster the development of brand advocates. If you find the next couple of articles helpful, please, share them with your colleagues and peers, Let’s dive in!

One of the major changes social media has had on our society is that we now receive breaking news on instantaneously via the Internet on sites like Twitter. Say goodbye to the 6 O’clock news. Not only is it exciting to hear about information as it’s actually happening, it’s even more thrilling to be a part of the conversation. Your brand needs to jump at any chance to be part of a social conversation that revolves around breaking news relating to your industry. Try using free services like Tweetdeck that allow you to monitor trends or specific topics. This will act as a never ending follow of inspiration content. One of the greatest things, but also one of the hardest things about social media, is that people are rewarded for originality and creativity; this can make it difficult to make every tweet feel like “your best tweet ever.” Which is fine, but ask yourself, “Would I find this tweet useful? Informational? Entertaining? Would I click the link?” If you find the answer to these questions being “No” more than “Yes,” it’s time to rethink your posting strategy.

Your followers are most likely following some of the same sources or people that you are and easily grow tired of repetitive retweets building up in their new feeds. If you see something that is worth passing along to your followers from a major news source, take the time to repackage the tweet and make it your own. No need to reinvent the wheel here. If it’s a link to an article, take the link and personalize some quick copy that make the news relevant to your organization. Change up the context or perspective of the information and make it your own instead of just retweeting it. People are following you because they want to hear what YOUR perspective. Your job isn’t to necessary create news, but to facilitate it in a manner that is conducive to conversation amongst your brand advocates.

Telling Stories

     Try asking an advertising agency what it is they really do. There have been two noticeable trends in advertising etiquette over the past 10 (ish) years that have greatly affected the answers you’ll receive. The first being the major trend against referring to oneself as an “advertising agency.” Rather, you will most likely be scolded and reminded by your peers that they work for a conversation catalyst, or idea factory, which is fine. We should applaud any attempt to give greater depth and insight (transparency/honesty) into our organizations true practices. The second trend, which seems to make itself present on many agencies website’s is an explanation (usually video or flash) of why one should feel the need to market their Brands “story,” or the “story of their Brand.” This idea of a telling a “story” might have been hard for some people to grasp/accept at first, especially when the Brand in question has sales that result in millions of dollars, and never used a “story” to get where it is today.

     Well it turns out that people in the advertising industry are not only onto something, but hitting the nail on the head with deadly accuracy. There is no such thing as a race to the bottom; and in an era where outsourcing has dropped prices to unprecedented lows, a products design and the brand’s story, are now the two main influences on a consumers decision to purchase. The story is more important than ever before. The inspiration for this post came from a Ted Talk by Joshua Foer, a journalist who, “accidentally” won the U.S. Memory Championship after attempting to walk a mile in his subjects shoes. It’s a twenty minute video, but well worth the watch.

Joshua explains to his audience that people who compete in these contests of extreme memorization are just like you and I. They don’t have abnormally large brain and they aren’t necessarily more intelligent than the next guy/gal. They’ve simply strengthened and conditioned their minds/memories using memorization techniques that are over 2,500 years old. And not to ruin the video for you, but what do you think one of the main techniques memory polishing techniques is? You guessed it…telling a story…a wild, crazy, (sometimes raunchy!) descriptive, and unforgettable story that connects your mind visually and emotionally with what you are trying to remember.  Now wait, remind me what they goal of advertising is again? Oh yes, to REMIND people what you product is, to REMIND them what problem your product solves (the why), and to REMIND where and how they can buy it.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good story?

Did I Just Twitter a Facebook?

I mean facebook a tweet, no! Tweet a facebook post?

Technology is amazing, but I’m sure we’ve all felt like the 3 guys from Office space at one time or another.

Managing your organizations social media account can feel like a shot in the dark sometimes, confusing and time consuming. Unless you are a recent college graduate, you probably don’t have any formal social media training. If you’re in the advertising/marketing industry you probably have a basic understanding of the functionalities and capabilities that are available to you on facebook and twitter (due to your personal use). You might even use facebook chat as the primary tool of in-office communication. Which might sound crazy to some, but many agencies actually do.

The goal of this post is to give you some insight into how about how consumers are posting/interacting differently on facebook vs. Twitter in order to facilitate the different types of communication that have established by each social network.

The primary difference between facebook and Twitter is that facebook acts as a community or hub for constant brand presence in the form of a conversation. Facebook has a past, for those who like to reminisce over old pictures, a present, where engaging content is exchanged in return for consumer attention (their precious time), and a future, undefined and open to innovation. As Brain Solis puts it, “Facebook allows for richer, more interactive experiences hosted within the confines of a branded and captive environment.”  This means that you have the opportunity to engage in a more complex in-depth conversation with people than you would on twitter. This does not mean your status updates should be longer, it means the experience itself should spark interaction and communication between fans, not even necessarily between the fan and the brand. I am a firm believer in the idea that everyone has a story they want to share and they are just looking for the right platform to share it on. Make your page, something they obviously have some kind of emotional attachment to or passion about, a place for them to open up and tell their stories. Learn to facilitate conversation, don’t speak AT people.  (Studies show that statuses with 80 or less characters have the highest engagement….Don’t believe me? Take a look at Redbull’s posts)

Twitter is the pulse of business; it gauges your real-time relevance with consumers and helps to keep your brand top of mind. More importantly, it allows you to listen and respond to conversations about your brand or industry. We’ll get into more detail about how to spike engagement on twitter later, but for right now, a good question to ask yourself before you tweet is: Would I find this tweet useful? Entertaining? Interesting? If not…don’t tweet it 🙂

Advances in technology have made it easier than ever to communicate with more people than ever. Yet there is no specific road map for social media success, so your success with these new tools for communication will still depend on social science and your ability to decipher YOUR customers social media behavior.

Is Social Media Turning Corporate America Into a Service Industry?


Brain Solis
 recently posted the transcript from an interview he did with Capital Magazine on his blog about the rise of Generation-C, or “Generation-Connected”. Brain explains how the rise of this new generation has changed the way we craft our media strategies, and how businesses must decide when and where to use social vs traditional media. (Check out the interview here)

     This new generation of connected users is unbound by demographics and exists in a constantly evolving digital world. Relying heavily on mobile and tablet platforms as their window to the world, Generation-C is shaping the way that businesses interact with, and most importantly, treat their customers online. In short, these online customers demand the same treatment online as off. Creating customer-centric social strategies that deliver an engaging interactive experience, beginning to end, is necessary to developing meaningful Generation-C relationships that garner support and loyalty; ultimately, leading to sales.


     All of a sudden, companies who’ve never had to deal with answering their customer’s dissatisfactions directly are being called out via social media. They’ve been forced to join in on the social conversation and treat their customers with the respect and attention they deserve, or be left behind. It no longer matters if your product is tangible because Social Media visibility has become a benchmark for brand legitimacy. One user left a comment on Brain’s interview that I feel describes the Generation-C perspective perfectly: “If there are no reviews, no FB page, and no Twitter account, I am less likely to trust the product and company. It’s as if they are hiding.” No Trust, no purchase.

     Social media has equaled the playing field by taking a large portion of brand perception out of the marketers control; delivering your marketing message is no longer a one-way street. In order to regain control over that message, marketers must now create genuine interactions between the consumer and the brand. Starting to sound like a service industry isn’t it. Every company from small diner to large corporation can be publicly criticized or praised on the Internet. And unlike conversation between friends, once something is on the Internet…it’s there for good. Word of mouth marketing will always be one of the most powerful forms of marketing, and for Generation-C, social media is just an extension of WOM into the digital sphere of their lives.

     Social media matters, it’s a great way to communicate with customers and monitor the conversation around your brand; but it is not replacing traditional media. Your new job, based on how your customers consume different types of media, is deciding how to balance the two and create an effective strategy. This can be difficult, so in our next blog, we’ll go into detail about the differences between different social media channels how you should utilize them.