3. April 2013 22:40

The last Mythbusters* episode I watched tested the Monty Hall Paradox. The last time it was popular in mainstream was on the game show Let's Make a Deal. Essentially, contestants are presented with three doors. Behind one door is a BRAND NEW CAR!!! and behind the other two are goats (the non-prize). The objective is to pick a door. Then the host will open one of the other two doors that does not contain the car. The contestant is then given the option to switch to the other unopened door or stick with their original door.

It's been widely accepted that switching will always increase your chances of winning the car. But in true Mythbusters fashion, Adam and Jamie re-created the game show and recruited a bunch of people to participate in an effort to test this theory. Each participant picks an initial door, then one of the other doors would be opened and the participant would decide if he/she wanted to switch or stick. This worked well but it was time consuming and there were a limited number of people. So they tried another method.

The two built a system that allowed them to test the scenarios quicker. It had two sections, with 3 doors each. Jamie was the participant on one section and Adam, the other. To test if switching is better, Jaime would always stick and Adam would always switch. They did this 100 times with the car being behind a different door each time.

At the end of the 100 rounds, Adam, the switcher, won the car many more times than Jamie did. About twice as much.

Being the eternal skeptic, I decided to test it out myself. For the sake of transparency, I JSFiddled it so you can see the logic. The code creates 3 doors and 2 players. In each round, it randomly selects one of the doors as the winning door. Then both player 1 and player 2 randomly select a door. Player 1 always stays and player 2 always switches. Everytime a player ends with a door with the prize, she gets a point. If you run the code with...say...10,000 round, you can see player 2 always has about twice as many points.

Still don't understand why this is? Neither did I..until I watched this video.

*I love the show and the people on their team are my heroes. Some of the myths they take on are just an incredible undertaking...like the "Dropped vs. Fired Bullet" myth.

# The Cool Ranch Tacos and the side of Beans

7. March 2013 10:05

We work on a lot of different things and it’s easy to get yourself caught up in the "I want our business to offer everything". I overheard someone getting a quote from someone outside our company for something and I asked the person next to me "Why aren't we doing that internally? We've done it before and we easily could". The person then rattled off a bunch of high profile, very important projects and a reminder of our current staffing levels. And of course my reply was "yeah, but we could do that". And then the person said something, without any earlier mention to the context that came through loud and clear.

"Those aren't the Cool Ranch Tacos, that’s like the side of beans, focus on the Cool Ranch Tacos."

For those living under a rock, Taco Bell had a smashing success with the Doritos Locos Tacos, blowing their projected numbers out of the water, just crazy success levels, according to one report approximately 1M were sold per day since being introduced to the market. From a non-sales perspective, the menu addition added 15000 new jobs related due to the product alone. They then immediately followed up with the natural successor, the Cool Ranch Tacos. Everyone who likes a taco that I've talked to is super excited to try them, just the thought conjures up a tasty sensation for the pallet.

Then there's the beans, how could you possibly have a Taco Bell without beans? The answer is "you couldn't", they're obviously incredibly vital to Taco Bell.

But let’s face it, when's the last time that someone said "hey, have you heard about those beans at Taco Bell, they're awesome and we all need some." No, it’s just not going to happen despite us all agreeing that beans are a crucial staple to the Taco Bell experience.

I'm sure Taco Bell has big awards and kudos conventions like every company... and who's going to get all of the kudos and rewards this year: The guy focused on the Cool Ranch Tacos or the Beans?

And while in 5 years, the Doritos Taco product owner may have moved on to something new and great, the beans guy is probably still focusing on how to drive even lower costs on production line of a product that's been worked on and optimized already year-after-year-after-year.

Which brings me back to our business... when time and resources are a factor and you're working with people who are wowed by the latest and greatest, which then drives your follow-up projects: You can either focus on the Cool Ranch Tacos or the side of beans, and at this point in our businesses lifecycle the Cool Ranch Tacos seem like a lot more fun.

Tags:

# Four Essential Links for an Introduction to Social Media Community Management

15. February 2013 10:29

Social media has become the way many companies communicate their brand and messaging to their customers. This way of communication has led to the need for a role that manages these social media communities effectively, driving positive communication and stewardship.

As one of the fastest growing sectors in the online world right now (37% increase in the amount time spent on social media from 2011 to 2012), the role of Community Manager is extremely important for any company trying to making its presence felt. Here are four essential links for an introduction to community management and running a community successfully:

# Using Social Media Marketing to Fail Better

11. February 2013 13:48

Sometimes it’s hard to make the case for a big investment in social media marketing. It can be difficult to scale, time-consuming, and there’s always the risk of—gasp!—negative feedback.

Socialnomics makes an excellent argument for making social media marketing not just important, but central to the mission and products your company creates. Erik Qualman’s second edition of this book came out a couple weeks ago. Rather than focusing on the nuts and bolts of implementation, it's a wonderful conceptual framework for the importance of social media. It also takes a stab at what's just around the corner, which is very exciting.

My favorite quote so far: "Fail fast, fail forward, fail better." Quick iterative innovation is the watchword, and an engaged conversation with customers is necessary to make that happen. The new climate for product development involves intense competition, margins squeezed by the wide availability of similar products, and a need for speed. He argues that it’s better to move quickly than study something to death and have others beat you to market. But once you move quickly out the door, and some parts of your product fail, you need to respond just as fast.

This requires an ongoing, engaged conversation with your customers. You only fail forward, you only fail better, when you listen to your customers. Qualman argues that social media is the best way, perhaps the only way, to listen to your customers quickly and deeply enough to drive rapid development cycles. It’s not about releasing a half-baked product. It’s about speeding up the product’s improvement cycle, which is something we can all benefit from.

Release, listen, improve, release. Rinse and repeat. At Exsilio, our Social Media Marketing team focuses on embedding inside your organization’s message, and can help you sort through the noise to listen better.

It’s hard for many organizations to be so nimble in their product/service development, though. What challenges are you experiencing?

# Tracking Twitter Engagement: 4 Free Tools to Get Started

8. February 2013 10:03

A colleague and I were recently tasked with reviving a client's stale Twitter account. The account had several hundred followers, but had not been active in months. We wanted to find out what levels of engagement we'd see if we actively managed the account for a few months. So, since our project was not particularly scoped for active Twitter management, we needed to track engagement without 1) paying for expensive tools, and 2) unnecessarily spending hours manually tracking our engagement metrics.

Here are a few of the tools I've used to effectively track basic Twitter metrics. The idea here is to utilize free tools and remain efficient in regards to time spent on data gathering.

Metrics: Follower Count
First, you'll need a way to track follower count. Twittercounter provides a nice view into your account's follower trend-line, sorted out by each day. You can go as far back as three months. You can also add one or two other accounts, if you’d like to compare your trendline to someone else’s.

Tweetreach.com
Metrics: Exposure, Impressions
Next, you'll want insight into the overall reach of your tweets. Enter your account's handle into Tweetreach, and it'll give you an exportable snapshot of how far your tweets are travelling. Using metrics such as "reach", "exposure", and "contributors", Tweetreach will show you which accounts have mentioned you (sorted by follower count) and how many times your account's handle has appeared in others' feeds. The only caveat in this free report is that the data does not reach back very far. You'll have to check in every few weeks if you want to capture this data over a long period of time.

Analytics.topsy.com
Metrics: Mentions
Topsy.com will show you a trend-line of how many times your account has been mentioned over a selected time period. Retweets are included. You’ll want to remember that Topsy’s free service only allows you to look back as far as one month.

Bit.ly
Metrics: Clicks
Possibly the most popular URL shortener, signing up for a free bit.ly account will give you access to a view of all of your created URLs. You'll be able to see how many clicks you're getting on each URL.

Individually, these tools are not capable of giving you very much data, but by using multiple tools, you should be able to pull a meaningful story together. Let us know in the comments if you’ve got any other recommendations or thoughts on free Twitter trackers.

# Impression Share: Why Your Paid Search Marketers Need To Know This.

1. February 2013 14:50

“How do my ads compare to others in the search auction?” Have you heard that question before as a marketing manager? In the world of paid search, competition is everything, every click, impression, and conversion drives the business. As such, any marketer wants to know how they stack up against the competition.

This is a great overall indicator of the performance headroom in each ad group and campaign. Allowing you to garner a high level overview of your performance, and see if there are opportunities.

Great, right? Well, yes, but it doesn’t tell you enough. That is where your “Lost Impressions due to Ad Rank” steps in. This is an actionable number, because you can control your ad rank through a variety of levers.

Quick recap, what is ad rank? How well your ad has performed overtime, in combination with Quality Score. Quality Score is the combination of a few metrics: Click Through Rate (CTR), Account History, Display URL performance, landing page relevance, and other “black box” numbers that Google and Bing won’t share. Keeping in mind, you can change these parts of your account through some hard work and analysis.

With Impression Share, you can get a quick glance to your performance, and making sure that each day, you’re getting the most out of your account, and the most out of each query. Bing and Google make it easy to view this metric now, so take advantage of it!

For other important pay per click marketing metrics, take a look at my other blog post!

Tags:

# Second Screen: Today's Media Buy Landscape

11. December 2012 17:14
Ten months ago, I wrote a post about the ‘Second Screen Phenomenon’ and how marketers intend to harness it at the 2012 Superbowl.
As we approach 2013, it's becoming less 'phenomenon', and more 'reality'.
There’s a reason why you’re seeing hashtags in commercials, why Microsoft released Smartglass, and why social media is changing sportsAs Lance Ulanoff of Mashable writes, "Marketers see blood in the water, and in 2013 they will release the sharks." Here are some facts from Ulanoff's article:

• More than 80% of smartphone and tablet owners use these devices while watching TV.
• At least 25% of U.S. smartphone and tablet users use the devices while watching TV multiple times per day.
• 51% of those who post on social media while watching TV do so to connect with others who might also be watching the same thing.
Media buyers are living in a new and exciting world—but what complications does this new landscape come with? As Mike Nutely from Admonsters puts it:
“We’re clearly also at a turning point where buying media becomes more difficult. Previously all you needed to do was specify what kind of demographic you were trying to reach with what frequency, and your media agency would go off and buy 30 second ad campaigns for you and all you had to do was supply creative.
Now, the opportunity is to synchronise that on the second screen with digital, targeted, personalised calls to action, where customers can engage with the brand and buy the product immediately, rather than having a long gap between seeing something on the first screen and taking action on it.”
We’ve reached a time in which devices and connectivity abound. Customers everywhere can now be reached anywhere. The catch is that the complexities stack. It’s never been more crucial for brands to target the right people, relay the right message, and call for the right action.

Sources:
Lance Ulanoff: http://mashable.com/2012/12/06/tech-trends-2013
Mike Nutley: http://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2012/07/24/what-does-second-screen-mean-brands-mike-nutley-meets-zeebox

19. November 2012 17:26

Often times in the past, I try to delete a file or folder only to be presented with a message kindly reminding me that I can’t delete because it has been locked by another application. So I find the program that has the file open and close it. That’s fine with me because I understand the kernel needs to protect the file to maintain stability.

Today, I ran into something new and irksome. Bear with me as I retrace my steps. I was in Visual Studio 2010 and packaged an Azure deployment project. VS creates the app.publish folder and puts the actual deployment package and configuration files in it. So far so good. I make my way over to the Windows Azure Management with my shiny new files. I upload my files and several minutes later, my site is updated and happy.

But as life goes, before I have time to bask in my awesomeness, another change to the site comes down the pipeline. No problem. Just rinse and repeat. Make change, compile, package…PACKAGE FAIL!? Hmm..VS is telling me it can’t delete the app.publish folder because it’s not empty. Ok, I’ll help it out. I go to delete the two files inside and...FILE ACCESS DENIED!? “You require permission from the computer’s administrator to make changes to this file.” But….I…am….administrator… As far as my PC is concerned, I’m king of the castle…master of the manor.

After bashing the Try Again button repeatedly, I try something else. I go to the file’s properties and the Security tab presents me with “You must have Read permission to view the properties of this object”. Really? I can’t even open the file? So I try it and sure enough, I get an Error dialog: “Cannot open…”. Back to Properties, Security Tab and clicked Advanced. “Owner: Unable to display current owner.” Maybe that’s the issue, it’s confused about who owns it. Being the responsible owner, I click the Change button to claim it. It responds with “You do not have permission to view this object’s security properties, even as an administrative user.” At this point I’m at a loss for words. My computer has gone mad!

One last attempt. Open a command prompt window as Administrator, navigate to app.publish and delete. Nope. That didn’t work either.

Ok, time to restart. I start to close my windows…Notepad, SSMS, IE….hmm…the last time the file was accessed was with IE to upload to Azure. There’s no way IE locked the file. Could it? After killing the IE process, I go back to VS to package again. SUCCESS! But what the heck just happened. When did IE start locking files? This never happened before? But I did just upgrade to Windows 8 and IE 10. I did some quick sleuthing online to see if anyone else had the same issue but found done. I tried to repro with Firefox and Chrome but either of them were as deviant. My only guess is IE 10 (or at least the Azure Management site) somehow uses HTML 5 upload or local storage in a funky way. And by funky, I really mean ridiculously annoying.

# Surface RT - 5 good and 5 bad

7. November 2012 11:31

So I got a Surface RT on Monday and have gotten to play with and send around the office and let everyone play with.

I have an iPad and honestly would be MORE than happy to switch off full-time to a MS based device if I could.

The Good:

Overall User Experience - So it takes a little getting used to, but once you go through a few days and you start to see some of the nuances (pinching, sliding, top, bottom, side), it really is pretty good.

Desktop mode in RT - Even though its an RT machine, honestly its pretty good, lots of stuff is there and just really functional

Syncing between devices - Really pretty cool, between my normal work laptop and my Surface, it syncs really well.

Apps -Yeah, I know's there's less apps than every other platform, BUT for the most part (at least for work) there are lots of Apps (lync, Remote Desktop, Hyper-V Manager, Netflix, ...).  So I'd say it a great start.

Other - the keyboard is pretty cool, along with the camera.

NO OUTLOOK! - need i say more?  Anyone who knows me, knows I will.  So the Surface Email client, just doesn't cut it.  if we are going to be resolved to having to use this, unless they want everyone to use OWA instead, then we need some significant drag and drop capability.

The Keyboard - for as cool as it is... the keyboard has a couple flaws.  1. In every commercial they obviously are advertising the hell out of the keyboard, why on earth would they sell it differently.  Isn't this a differentor?  Sure sell separately (incase I break mine), but also include by default in the device package.  2. if the keys we're just a bit more pronounced it would be great.

Cell Carrier Option - The number 1 reason I won't be getting off of my iPad, is becuase of my ATT plan attached to it and it is the connectivity everywhere tablet.  Unfortunately I'm stuck with it until Microsoft adds it.  I really just don't understand why.

Confusion in Interface - Its great but its just confusing.  I still don't think I understand the iterface and how best to work effeciently in it to the most.  I don't know if a help video is needed or some sort of intro app by default (i actully like that one).

Less Apps - They're short.  One of my favorite apps is Zillow (to dream about dream houses and what if I was a billionaire :)).  They're short, no way aroud that i have to imagine that they'll come.

So, the net its a pretty good device and I like a lot and I can definitely use alot of the time.

Unfortunately until they have a way to cell carrier tied to it (and not through another device), so I can have connectivity everywhere like i do with my iPad.  Example, my Sundays where were at the bar watching the games we ALWAYS have the app open for fantasy football (ipad).

Keep more good stuff coming.

Tags:

# The Most Efficient Conversion

26. October 2012 08:23

Conversions are the most sought after end-goal for most online advertisers; it declares that their efforts have worked. These often come at a cost, and require hours of effort and optimization to ensure maximum efficiency. But there is one conversion that is so simple and so efficient, that it doesn’t even catch our eye.

The Facebook comment. Go ahead, login to your Facebook, look at your newsfeed, and see what appears under a status update. It is your profile picture and a box for you to offer your wisdom to your friends in the form of a comment. This is the most efficient conversion online.

Why? Because Facebook needs and wants you to engage with your friends, that is why you’re there, right? You see your image, you see yourself already there. Facebook allows provides you everything you need to make that final conversion, you just have to come up with a clever comment. Every time you click a like, or comment on a picture or update, you are fueling Facebook. You are converting and adding value to their Friend Graph.

The takeaway from this example is that is that the use can “see themselves there,” they know what to expect, and they know what they’ll get.

Tags: