Viral holiday videos are pure marketing genius

If you haven’t seen the WestJet Christmas Miracle YouTube video yet, you may have been living under a rock. No seriously. The video, which was published on December 8th, has been making the rounds on every social media platform and has over 31 million views.

If you haven’t seen the video, go watch it now, as it is a tearjerker. The idea behind the video was simple, but it took 175 WestJet employees to pull off. WestJet set up a video feed so passengers outside of boarding gates for two Nov. 21 flights from Calgary could tell Santa Claus what they wanted for Christmas.

While the flights were in the air, WestJet workers scrambled to buy everything the passengers had asked for. They ran to Best Buy and a nearby mall to buy cameras, phones, socks, underwear and even a big-screen TV. They bought Ken dolls for the women who had asked for husbands and toy cars for the people who had requested a new car. In all, they wrapped 357 gifts, labeled them and sent them down the baggage carousel to unsuspecting passengers. The result? A fun, heartwarming video that might even make Ebenezer Scrooge tear up a bit.

But the most astonishing part is how quickly the video went viral. WestJet had set a goal of reaching 200,000 views, which if met they would donate holiday flights to a charity. Due to online buzz, the video received 315,000 views withing the first 24 hours! When WestJet was asked about the video’s success, “Gobsmacked would be the best way to put it,” WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer said. “We are absolutely gobsmacked.”

The Christmas Miracle video, which was 5 1/2 minutes long, has gotten WestJet more publicity than it could have ever paid for with a traditional ad. If WestJet had aired that ad on a prime-time network in the U.S., it would have cost the company anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000, with an average prime-time audience of about 8.2 million. When comparing that number to the 31 million views the video has so far, this viral video is one of the major advertising successes of the holiday season.

Laughing at the pictures in your photo libray… I mean, downloading more content…

After reading my earlier post on mobile app privacy, my friend Madeline sent me this screen shot from a new iPhone game she downloaded:Image

Cute, but a bit creepy right?

Recently HP did a study of business apps and their privacy and security concerns. The study found that 97 percent of the apps contained some sort of privacy issue. HP also found that 86 percent of the apps lack basic security defenses, and 75 percent fail to properly encrypt data. Assuming similar percentages across the hundreds of thousands of consumer apps in the app stores, it is very likely that you have a few security or privacy concerns floating around your smartphone or tablet.

But this isn’t about malicious apps designed to steal your data. It’s mostly a function of lazy coding. Developers write apps that access everything because it’s easier than writing more specific code, and it also paves the way for any future enhancements that might actually need it. – See more at:
According to the study, this isn’t about malicious apps designed to steal your data. It’s mostly a function of lazy coding. Developers write apps that access everything because it’s easier than writing more specific code, and it also paves the way for any future enhancements that might actually need it. So if that’s the case and there is no malicious intent, is it okay that Madeline’s game potentially has access to her photo album? I think what concerns me more is that while the developer may have never intended to rifle through your personal data, who else at the company may get their hands on it?

This infographic shows the types of data that are being collected through these various tech giants. Pretty interesting…..

– See more at:

In the HP study, 97 percent of the apps contained some sort of privacy issue. HP also found that 86 percent of the apps lack basic security defenses, and 75 percent fail to properly encrypt data. Assuming similar percentages across the hundreds of thousands of consumer apps in the app stores, it’s likely that you have a few security or privacy concerns floating around your smartphone or tablet. – See more at:

Report: Over the past year, search traffic has dropped while social traffic more than doubled

Report: Over the past year, search traffic has dropped while social traffic more than doubled

Social discovery and sharing platform Shareaholic today released a report comparing search traffic versus social traffic over the last 13 months. While it’s no surprise that search is a mature tool and social is still a relatively new one, the biggest trend that immediately jumps out is that the former has started declining while the latter is still exploding.

The Quick Takeaway: Search’s heyday is over; it’s a mature channel. Organic search’s share of visits to publishers actually dropped 6 percent, while referrals from the top five social media platforms more than doubled (growing 111 percent year-over-year)!

And You Were Worried About the NSA!

Everyday it seems like new information comes out about the extent of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs thanks to a major leak from former defense contractor, Edward Snowden. While a lot has been revealed about the type of information the NSA has collected on foreign nationals and citizens at home alike, perhaps we should be equally concerned about the information Mobile App creators are unknowingly collecting from us. 

With the recent launch of the iPhone 5S, Apple announced there are more than 1 million apps in the App Store, which have resulted in 60 billion total downloads with over $13 million being paid out to developers since the App Store’s creation in 2008. Those numbers are huge and only represent the iPhone side of app downloads to a smart phone. So what does this mean for you….
When was the last time you read a privacy policy before launching an app? While 92 percent of smart phone users are concerned about apps collecting their personal information without their consent, most mobile app users have agreed to a privacy statement without reading it. Because let’s be honest, as GSMA reports 52 percent of those who do not read the full disclosure, do so because privacy statements are too long and 21 percent because they do not have the time to read them. If this sounds like you, don’t feel guilty, I don’t either, but that is about to change. 
Research conducted by Bitdefender, the award-winning provider of innovative antivirus solutions, has revealed almost one in five iOS apps can access a user’s iPhone Address Book, while some 41 percent can track your location and more than one in three store user data without encrypting it. The study of more than 65,000 apps distributed widely on the Apple App Store revealed tens of thousands tap contact information and access data without explicit user permission.
Don’t believe me? Just last week the Federal Trade Commission settled a case with Goldenshores Technologies, which created an Android flashlight app. The app, called “Brightest Flashlight Free,” has been downloaded by Android users tens of millions of times. The “catch”….when used, the app was collecting data about the place where it was used (“geolocation”), tied to data about the device (“persistent device identifiers”). After being collected, that data was then transmitted to third parties including advertising networks.
The shocking part… the app did have a privacy policy that users had to agree to, however, no where in the policy was it disclosed the information would be sent to advertisers. So, in light of this case, what does the average mobile device user do?
The bottom line, YOU need to be paying attention to your mobile app privacy. Varacode put together the infographic below to give a comprehensive rundown on mobile app security. I suggest you review it and maybe you’ll think twice before heedlessly agreeing to a privacy policy…. 

@CustomerService Fix my @&%# issue now!

The first time I ever used my Twitter account was to complain about Delta, who had gate checked and subsequently lost my suitcase on a trip to Las Vegas in 2011. I had heard that tweeting at companies could help get you better customer service and I was getting nowhere on the phone. My complaint tweets didn’t receive a single response from the company, however, as an increasing number of consumers interact with brands on social media platforms, they are coming to expect fast and helpful customer service online.

A recent study showed that a number of companies considered as the Top 50 brands don’t really pay attention to customer issues hurled at their social media accounts. 56 percent didn’t respond to a single complaint posted on Facebook. Similarly, 71 percent of complaints on Twitter went by ignored (like mine!). But is that practice going to come around to haunt brands? According to KISSMetrics, after poor customer service, 26 percent of consumers post a negative comment on social networking sites, with bad customer services estimated to cost brands $338 billion a year worldwide. Especially considering that 59 percent of people are more likely to switch brands based on customer service! 
I’ve included two great infographics depicting how consumers use online platforms for customer service exchanges as well as the expectations they have in interacting with brands. One here and the other at the bottom.
So what can a brand do to improve its online customer service strategy? These five tips can be the difference in making or breaking a successful strategy:
1. Respond Quickly- Every minute the complaint/issue is left unresolved, other fans/followers will see it sitting there unanswered and affect their opinions. If a response is prompt and respectful, the issue can be resolved and the goodwill can flow again.
2. Have a Good Sense of Humor- Not only does good humor tend to ‘lighten the mood’, it can put a more personal face to your business, but when done poorly, it can backfire, undermining serious concerns or issues.
3. Turn Complaints into Opportunities to Shine- By acknowledging and apologizing for mistakes made, you can turn an uncomfortable, potentially damaging situation into an opportunity to show your followers and fans that you truly care.
4. Listen- May involve: Ask how you could improve your service or product, Use feedback or criticisms on social media to improve your business, Ask customers what their pain points are, rather than assuming you know, Respond to complaints in a way that people know you’ve really heard them.
5. Be specific- Instead of glossing over concerns with a generic statement, Offer specific feedback and further assistance via phone, email or private message.
Have you ever turned to social media platforms for customer service? Did the company make the grade and respond timely/solve your issue? Let me know in the comments below!

The Social Side of Holiday Shopping

We all know how important holiday sales are to the retail industry. Approximately 20 percent of annual sales are derived from the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and experts are projecting $602.1 billion this year for retail holiday sales, $82 billion of which will be online sales. Whether the purchase is made online or in store, 64.8 percent of shoppers use social media to find the perfect gift. Word of mouth is one of the most trusted forms of advertising according to 92 percent of consumers and almost double the number of consumers would make a purchase based on peer recommendations via Facebook or Twitter versus a commercial on TV.
This is very important for marketers to note because it is easier to drive word of mouth influence and sales online, compared to traditional methods due to the fact that social platforms are much more interconnected and reach more people than a typical person’s real network. In terms of social platforms, Facebook leads the pack with 39.3 percent of shoppers admitting that it has influenced their decision to buy a gift. Pinterest came in second (19.7 percent), the digital pinboard is the clear leader in gift inspiration, with Twitter coming in third with 14.4 percent. 
With respect to expectations for how social media will influence purchases, coupons are king. One of the most popular social shares that leads to holiday purchases are digital coupons, with 67.2 percent of shoppers saying it’s something they would most likely share. The Internet has changed the way we shop, with four out of five shoppers hailing it the single most “useful” resource for researching and completing their holiday shopping.
Here are a few more surprising facts about how social media influences holiday shopping.
-66.4% of shoppers update their Facebook status to tell friends about best offers and finds (I did that this weekend at TJ Maxx!)
-81% of US respondents indicated that friends’ social media posts directly influenced their purchase decision.
63% of holiday shoppers will engage in “showrooming” this holiday season, the practice of entering a brick-and-mortar store only to gander in person at items that they will likely return home to find at a better price online.
– 80% of consumers will use more than one device at once while holiday shopping, and 84% will start on one device and finish on another.
Were you as amazed as I by those stats? As you shop around this season, keep an eye out for how big, or little, a role social media plays in your holiday purchasing decisions. Were you surprised or do you turn to social media for gift ideas/coupons?

#WalmartFights #BlackHoleFriday: Twitter Named the Ultimate Black Friday Winner

A little late, but I wanted to comment on social media and Black Friday. Personally I did not shop at all this year. Ever since I was young, my mom would drag my sister and I out at 4am on Black Friday to join the mad rush for deals. I have gone back and forth in my love/hate relationship with the day over the years, but this year I was solidly on the hate side. I hated the fact that stores opened on Thursday. Our society has become so commercialized I find it truly appalling that as a culture we cannot take one day off from shopping to spend time with family and reflect on what we are thankful for. Honestly, if this is the new trend, which I am sure it is, I will be boycotting Black Friday shopping from here on out. But enough time on my soap box….
This year Twitter was a prominent feature in the Black Friday discussion in both a positive manner and negative, viral-content-inducing ways.  For starters, this year, 696,649 #BlackFriday Tweets were posted during the 24 hour period alone. Over the course Nov 27-30, over 1.2 million Tweets were posted, with the hashtag racking up over 2 billion potential impressions during the day of the sale. That is impressive to say the least, but were the mentions good or bad?
According to statistics compiled from Crimson Hexagon’s sentiment analysis, people actually enjoyed Black Friday more this year compared to last. Their study of Twitter found nearly half (45 percent) of all tweets that mentioned Black Friday leading up to the big day were positive in nature, compared to just 38 percent from 2012. Negative sentiment also fell from 39 percent in 2012 to 36 percent in 2013 (with nearly half of these tweets complaining about having to work). 25 percent of the positive Black Friday tweets expressed excitement about the mad shopping day, and 19 percent were focused on specific deals. Only 5 percent of all users tweeting about the day said they were going to boycott it.
These numbers were great for organizations that managed to leverage the #BlackFriday hashtag. Surprisingly, NASA recorded the most retweeted tweets by playing off the Black Friday theme to educate followers about Black Holes. Someone was on his/her game when they thought of that!
When it comes to most frequent tweeters with the #BlackFriday hashtag, Victoria’s Secret took the cake with 504 and Walmart second place with 378. That is an insane amount of tweets for one day! Unfortunately, Walmart did not enjoy a day of Twitter success when the hashtag #WalmartFights began accumulating tweets and websites displaying the tweets went viral. 
Photos and videos of customers mobbing stores and fighting over items flooded Twitter as the day progressed and YouTube videos were uploaded. The content even jump started the creation of the website to track the mess. 
As of now, it is estimated Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined sales brought in $12.3 billion, with overall weekend spending expected to reach $57.4 billion. That figure is down from $59.1 billion last year. So was opening earlier for Black Friday a success? No one can say for sure, but Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak notes, “Probably the most interesting is the amount of energy the consumer put into Thursday shopping. The retailers did a good job getting them up from the dinner table and into stores.”
Now that the bar has been set for Thursday openings it will be interesting to see what approach retailers take with the usual extra shopping week before Christmas. What do you predict for next year?