Thursday, June 30, 2011

De-Tech Time

I would like to take timeout to wish everyone a great holiday weekend, but more importantly enjoy your De-Tech Time.

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In the past, I have posted on the subject that Americans work longer hours than workers in most other developed countries, thus we have evolved into a “No Vacation Nation.” Now, the Center for American Progress is documenting, not only do we work longer hours per week than elsewhere in the developed world, but we have fewer laws to support working families (e.g., paid maternity leave). Consequently, we are experiencing work-family conflict. Throw into this conflict the amount of time families are wired (internet and mobile usage), I advocate it is De-Tech Time. Let me share with you some amazing statistics that I have read in the past six months:

• Nearly 60 percent of American families with children have two or more computers according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. More than 60 percent of these families have either a wired or wireless network. A third of Americans log on from home multiple times per day, twice the number that logged on back in 2004.

• According to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation Study, today’s youth pack in 10 hours and 45 minutes worth of media per day (TV, music/audio, computer, video games, etc.).

• The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project also reported that more than four out of five teens sleep with their mobile phones. Makes sense given the latest Nielsen data: the average teen text messages 3,339 times per month – females 4,050; males 2,539.

• The number of adults using a social networking site has doubled since 2008 – 59% of internet users. No surprise, Facebook dominates the SNS space; on an average day 15% of FB users update their own status, 22% comment on another’s post or status and 26%”like” another users content.

• It was reported in the latest comSource survey that the average American internet user watches 30 minutes of video online per day (a 40 percent increase over 2009) in addition to five hours of television.

I declare it is De-Tech Time. Unplug your computers, power off your mobile phones, go outdoors, fire up your grills and have a bang-up Fourth of July.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Quick Response

Quick response, a.k.a. QR codes – fad or trend?

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QR codes are rectangular codes that enable smartphone equipped consumers with the proper scanning applications to instantly receive information that has been encoded/decoded. They are slowly evolving into the mainstream and being utilized primarily by marketers seeking to instantly engage with their consumers – immediate link to a mobile site, customized content, video, etc. In addition to outbound messaging, QR codes facilitate tracking measurement.

I am real bullish about QR codes. Why? They are an excellent hybrid marketing tool – intercept marketing (a proven classic marketing strategy) combined with a Web 2.0 collaborative tool that facilitates engagement. Thanks to a project I am currently working on, I have been researching the current utilization of QR codes. When I discuss their unlimited potential, I have been challenged by my peers who believe they are a passing fad. Consequently, I would like to document why I think QR codes will become an integral part of marketing moving forward, a great touch point for both B2C or B2B marketers to engage and get closer to their customers. Rationale:

1. We are in the midst of a learning curve as it relates to QR codes. I apologize for being candid. I deem that the early adapters have misfired in their execution. One major example; too many companies have placed codes without any support copy (call to action) like scan here to get your free widget. As we become more familiar and marketers become more knowledgeable, everyone will know what to do when they spot the funny little rectangular codes.

2. Nielsen projects that half of the mobile phone user population will own a smartphone by the end of the year. More importantly, early smartphone users experienced some confusion about what scanners to download based on their equipment. A majority of the new models already come with a scanner app built in.

3. Google recently reported that 79 percent of smartphone owners use their phones while shopping (product and pricing information) with 90 percent resulting in a purchase or store visitation. In response, Retailers are placing QR codes in their stores to facilitate the shopping experience and provide a platform for engagement.

As most of my readership knows, I am a specialist in the foodservice channel. Restaurant operators utilizing QR codes as a promotional tactic will be a given – couponing, free samples, sweepstakes, etc. I get excited about other future applications – videos that communicate the source of the operator’s food or beverage (e.g., sustainable fish, fair trade coffee, etc.), recommended wine or beer pairings, exhibition cooking of a special dish, etc.

The utilization of QR codes will vary by industry. Once marketers work out the kinks and consumers/buyers become familiar with what they are, QR codes will be a great hybrid marketing tool. 2012 will be the year of the QR code.

Are you ready to scan with me?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The 90:9:1 Principle

LinkedIn, the first major U.S. social networking site to hold an IPO (May 19th), expanded its U.S. user base 6.7 percent in May to 33.4 million. As I have indicated in pervious posts, I am a huge fan of LinkedIn. However, lately I am definitely witnessing the 90:9:1 principle.

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LinkedIn now reports to have more than 100 million registered users worldwide. The last time I wrote about the site, I indicated that great networks are not built overnight and emphasized the need for commitment. I participate on LinkedIn on a regular basis for myself, as well as for a client. This past month, I even took on a new LI challenge and began a discussion group. Nevertheless, thanks to the amount of time I spend on the site, specifically in numerous discussion groups, it has become evident that there is participation inequality, better known in internet culture as the 90:9:1 principle. The term first surfaced in 2006. Simply stated; 1% of people create content, 9% edit or modify that content and 90% view the content without contribution.

As a LinkedIn advocate, I am both a content creator and modifier. More importantly, I am committed. Three factors motivate me:

1.) Thanks to LinkedIn, in addition to engaging and staying connected with people from my pre-Web 2.0 network, I have connected with new people that I most probably would have never met through my Tribe’s limited circle.

2.) LinkedIn is a great site to aggregate information. Over a year ago I learned about QR codes, a new venture I am embarking on, the subject of my next post.

3.) I am very bullish about the future of LinkedIn, now that it has a war chest (cash). It will continue to grow and improve, thus facilitate for me the opportunity to create a virtual enterprise. A virtual enterprise is a network of independent individuals or companies, linked by technology that will share skills, costs and access to one another’s networks/markets. Thanks to their collaborative synergy, they will organize and work together on a for or non-profit objective (e.g., launch a new product or service, a social movement, political campaign, etc.). Once the goal is achieved, the virtual enterprise dissolves. Since the virtual enterprise is more often than not improvised, it can succeed without formally incorporating or establishing a traditional brick & mortar company.

What is your level of participation on LinkedIn?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Favorite Holiday

National Martini Day.

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Foodimentary is a great source for humorous food and drink facts. It was conceived by John-Bryan Hopkins who has received two Twitter Shorty awards (over 370 thousand followers). I use the site regularly to aggregate fun content for my numerous social media platforms. Thanks to Foodimentary, I learned that Sunday, June 19th is National Martini Day, definitely my favorite holiday.

Chilled Grey Goose, dry straight up
Shaken not stirred
Too many produces the hiccups

What is your favorite holiday?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Graffiti 2.0

Are you making plans to celebrate International Yarn Bombing Day Saturday? Yes, “yarn bombing”, sometimes called grandma graffiti, has now evolved into a global phenomenon. I prefer to call it Graffiti 2.0.

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Street art and graffiti have always been considered male dominated. These types of public markings have existed since ancient times, but became more prominent thanks to the utilization of spray paint and marking pens as contemporary tools. Now “yarn bombing” has surfaced, more feminine in nature – it combines the craft of knitting and nurturing (wrapping something up that is cold in a warm blanket) to the urban streetscape. Nothing is being spared; bus stops, street signs, fountains, fire hydrants, bike racks, etc. Here in Philadelphia, a “yarn bomber” stitched a fuchsia-colored vest on the famous Rocky statue in front of the Philadelphia Museum with the words “Go See the Art” since most tourists visiting my city, only stop at the museum to take a snap of the fictional boxer.

The mother of “yarn bombers” is a Texan, Magda Sayeg who began bombing in 2005. She recalls a slow day at her Houston boutique, thus knitted a cozy for her shop’s door handle. Next she knitted a leg warmer for a stop sign at the end of her street. Before long she was commissioned to do larger pieces. Last year she was paid $20,000 to knit a Christmas sweater for a Toyota Prius promotional video. This past March, she bombed the tree trunks at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin. However, grandma graffiti really gained its popularity when two knitters from Vancouver, Canada published their manifesto: “Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti.” The book doubles as a coffee table art book complete with colorful photographs of creative bombings and a tutorial with tips like wearing “ninja” black to avoid capture. The authors now claim they receive dozen of e-mails a week from “yarn bombers” operating in Russia, the Middle East, London, Paris, Sydney, etc.

So now the bar has been raised. A Canadian knitter declared on Facebook that June 11th is International Yard Bombing Day. We are going to witness a global event Saturday where grandma graffiti artists (I predict both female and male) will take to the streets in their “ninja” outfits armed with needles and yarn. On Sunday morning, I plan to walk the streets of Philadelphia with my camera to document the beginning of a new movement, Graffiti 2.0.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Fish Tale


Recently I had a craving for fish, thus went to Philadelphia’s leading gourmet food store. The farm raised salmon @ $24.99 per pound looked great. When I asked the individual behind the counter where the salmon came from, I received a puzzled look. Where does our fish come from?

Read On:

Fish facts:

  • The average American eats approximately 16 pounds of fish and shellfish per year.
  • 84 percent of seafood eaten in the U.S. is imported, only 2% is inspected.
Time to raise the red flag! Last week, Oceana, the international ocean advocacy group located in Washington D.C. released their new report “Bait and Switch: How Seafood Fraud Hurts Our Oceans, Our Wallets and Our Health.” Over the past four years, Oceana conducted DNA tests of 1,000 fish filets from dozens of U.S. cities and concluded that 50 percent of the samples from restaurants and grocery stores were mislabeled.

What are the economic incentives for seafood fraud? For starters it is a way to imitate a more expensive product to avoid tariffs on a particular species – you purchased Mahi Mahi, but you received Yellowtail. Other forms of labeling fraud is short weighing where excess breading, ice or salt water are added so you end up buying a smaller quantity of fish than labeled. According to the 2010 National Conference of Weights and Measures, 40 percent of the weight of many seafood products is actually ice and not fish. The real downside to seafood fraud is it opens the door for illegal species to enter the market. Remember, seafood is a high risk food that requires proper handling and refrigeration. The substitution of illegal species can lead to a broader range of unknown contaminants.

What is the solution? Currently, the FDA just began using a risk based, sequencing DNA bar coding computer system. However, they only screen 50 percent of seafood imports. What about the other 50 percent? To me it sounds like we should get UPS involved in our fish supply chain. They could set up a fish tracking database that tracks down every piece of fish like a UPS package from its source of origin.

So now back to my fish tale. I decided to pass on the salmon, returned to my neighborhood and bought a nice slice of swordfish at my local market @ $9.99 per pound – wild caught, never frozen, imported from Panama. Or was it Mako Shark? Damn, I will never know.