Friday, February 26, 2010

Q&A: How Should Brands Earn Our Trust?

I've recently asked my LinkedIn colleagues to answer this question and decided to share their insights. Below I'll list the best feedback collected and would appreciate you to choose the Best Answer or Leave Your Own View:

- 1st Answer:

"That's a question which every marketer needs to focus at. Our perception about a particular product and company is significant to make a brand die or achieve success. When a brand fails to provide the key services promised,customer's go next time to someone offering the same service. The magic that can make one trust a brand is its consistency,transparency of services it has promised to provide. It's simple but hard to be followed by present marketers."

2nd Answer:

"Do what you tell/promise. Keep the gap between expectation and experience as minimal as possible and thus meeting your promises constantly."

3rd Answer:

"A person earns my trust. I earn a person's trust. Or a person extends their trust unbidded... in a kind of paying forward... which in turn makes me even more careful about how I receive and honor their gift.

I don't want brands in the middle of something so important... and valuable. I certainly understand why BRANDS want in the middle of all of this. They have a strong financial interest in ensuring that I bond with them. But I don't want them playing that kind of role in my life."

4th Answer:

"Branding can be tricky as there are many factors to consider. However, I would have to say if you can connect with a consumer on an emotional level you'll have a loyal customer. There are many factors that affect branding other than emotion. These are:

1. Being able to connect at an emotional level
2. Offering Quality
3. Trust/Honesty
4. Great customer support
5. Ease of doing business
6. Competitive pricing
7. Packaging
8. Understanding your customer base (demographics, listening and crafting the right message)
9. Being consistently in the consumers face
9. And then there is the Advertising"

5th Answer:

"Very simply - Consistent Quality and Consistent Value."

6th Answer:

"There is nothing worse falling in love with a brand (wine for example) and all of a sudden seeing the price go up and the quality go down. I would rather pay a higher price for a brand that is consistent every time. But if you raise your shelf price and the quality drops, I won't be a repeat customer."

7th Answer:

"Substitute "people" for "brands" and the answer becomes self-evident."

8th Answer:

"1. Quality
2. Consistency
3. Service & Support
4. Metamorphosis
5. Style "

9th Answer:

"I also agree that it's important to develop consistency, trust and quality. In addition, brands need to give their customers reasons to believe in them. This can be done in a few different ways:

1. Guarantees. While it may be obvious, those ironclad guarantees give people the confidence that if a product/service is not right for them, they can get their money back.

2. Demonstrations. It's pretty safe to say that few people truly trust advertisements, so what better way to develop trust in a product than showing it in action? Show off the quality of your product/service by giving live demonstrations in areas where your customers frequently visit.

3. Customer Relativity. People like to see others that relate to them use a product/service. If people like them use a product/service, then a customer may have more incentive to purchase it. This comes in the form of testimonials, case studies, etc.

4. Spell It Out. If customers can't figure out why they should use your product or service, why would they want to buy it? Providing customers logical, easy-to-understand explanations as to why they should buy your product/service will help them realize why they should get it for themselves.

5. Company History. Company's that have been around for a long time are usually a testament of their business practices and how they treat customers. Also, if you have received any awards, they should let their customer's know about those as well."

Waiting for your decisions of the Best Answer on this question


Digital Lunch Team
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Chinese Search Giant Baidu will launch its own Online Video Service

Sounds like Google's decision to acquire YouTube, right? According to Baidu Press Office the company confirms it has received a $50 million investment from Providence Equity Partners to start an online video subsidiary.

The aim of the deal is to develop an advertising supported online video business providing premium licensed content in China. The Chinese-language site’s name is registered as Being China’s leading search provider, Baidu makes an important step into what’s predicted to be highly popular online video ad spending.

"The online video market has great potential for growth in China," said Mr. Robin Li, Chief Executive Officer of Baidu, Inc. "Providence is our ideal partner in this space as it has rich experience in investing in and managing businesses that distribute licensed content online. Providence partnership with Baidu isn't by mere chance, since PE has also backed up a similar US service - Hulu, investing $100 million in its start-up package.

Obviously, Online Video Ad spending is growing in both importance and demand..

Related Post:
Baidu Makes It Official: Providence Equity Backs Video JV With $50 Million Investment (
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Social Search - the next "big thing"

Social search continues to be in the limelight, being targeted by major search giants. It all has a reason: social recommendations, which is now "a movement" nobody dares to overlook, particularly due to highest level of confidence we now place in online WOM, or the advices, answers we hear from peers, friends and simply online strangers.

According to the today's news bulletin (The Telegraph): Google has begun indexing status updates from Facebook Pages and including them in its real-time search results.

It should be good news for small and medium businesses opening their Facebook pages in search for new online interactions and further insights collection, since Facebook Fan Pages are meant: “for organisations, businesses, celebrities, and bands to broadcast great information to fans in an official, public manner” (basically - genuine marketing tools).

Integration of social search started similar to a "Gold rush" by the end of last year, when Google and Bingo have included Twitter streams. Last week Google announced indexing MySpace status updates and today is for the first time when Google announced Facebook search integration - although only for Fan pages and not for user's status updates (as compared to Microsoft's Bingo).

This integration however, means future searchability for 3 million Fan Pages with an audience of 5.3 billion fans!

Twitter popularity and resistance in front of political censorship (the case of Iran protests, Facebook ban in China and Vietnam, etc) started to question the search engines'ability to serve the latest updates on real-time stories and events.
Many have discovered the reliability of social recommendations searched on Twitter over the usual searches.

Today Google and Microsoft’s Bing are partnering with Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, in order to make their searches more relevant.

The question is: since we already trust Word-of-mouth more than any meadia source when it comes to brands' reliablity - will social search become the main tool to deliver the answers we're looking for?
If so, will that mean - for instance - an advancement of commercial Flogs ahead of genuine Blogs?

Curious to hear,

Digital Lunch
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Monday, February 22, 2010

The World's Most Trusted Brands: Amazon, Nokia..

What do we trust the brands for? Is it their image that associates to our own, their usage that meets our needs or their promise that we usually see in advertising messages or communication platforms?

Some statistics first:

- 85% of consumers around the world are willing to change the brands they buy or their consumption habbits; (Environmental Leader, 2008)

- 72% of consumers say they purchase a brand because it supports a cause they believe in; (PR Week, 2007)

According to the study released today by Milward Brown - Nokia was named the Most Trusted Brand in 8 out of 22 listed countries: Italy, Russia, China, Taiwan, Poland, Hungary,Thailand and Sweden. The research company used metrics based on "trust" and "recommendation" asking customers to answer on 2 questions:

1. "how trustworthy is the brand?" and
2. "would you recommend this brand?"

Although "trust" is a rather stretched term meaning different things to different people, the answers collected in research gave a hint to determine brands' "likability" and "the power of purchase", according to their "recommendation" index.

It's curious the fact that different countries "trust" different brands, still the chosen ones are: either global or local - leaders. Thus, scored the highest in the US (where online shopping became a "no-wonder" habbit), Toyota - in Canada, and Pampers - in UK, Germany and France, as shown below:

Even though online brands such as Amazon and Microsoft are showing up in major world markets, apparently people are more inclined to trust and recommend "material" goods, rather than intangible assets. Should the reason be in "the engagement power"? If so, than online brands might be soon keeping the pace with offline performers.

What's your call? How should a brand earn your trust?

Curious to hear,

Digital Lunch
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Smartphones Drive 600% Growth in Mobile Usage!

Ever noticed how often we're starting to forget about the basic purpose of a mobile phone - voice communication? We text, share, transfer data, browse the Internet etc - and all that because there's a constant lack of time and there're new options that smarty Smartphones are happy to serve with. Yet, how popular these options have become?

Bango Analytics
registered 600% growth in traffic to mobile websites. The company analyzed traffic to a range of mobile sites over the last 12 months, sampling across 50 million phone users worldwide.

Main findings refer to :

1. mobile usage: 6 times higher number of visits to mobile websites, when comparing December 2009 with the same month a year earlier;

2. Average time spent on site (ATS): 3 minutes and 21 seconds;

3. Average number of pages viewed per visit: 5 pages, as compared to only 2 pages per visit a year ago.

Also, these site-level figures have increased by an average of 230% compared to only a year ago. The main categories for mobile browsing are news, sports and general media sites (including newspapers), mobile content downloads, social networking and retail sites.

The study has also noticed that major mobile web support comes from smartphones, with Blackberry accounting for 17%, followed by Nokia and iPhone.

Does that mean that we're facing a trend of users' migration: from online to mobile platforms? That brings me to an other curiosity: Who's going to win the debate in future: Face-to-face communication (FFC) or Computer Mediated Communication (CMC)?

I guess that's an other E-marketing Food for Thought...
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mobile Banking: Urge Usage and Demand

So you've got yourself a brand new Smartphone. Now what? According to eMarketer report published today, most smartphone users access accounts via browsers, not apps.

Mobile banking is gradually becoming a commodity feature since mobile internet has come up with new options for smartphone users. Even if mobile commerce is not yet a hit, Americans for instance appear to be eagerly adopting mobile banking.

The early report issued by Data Innovation shows that around 68.7% of US smartphone users had been accessing banking or other financial services on their mobile phone in the past three months.

The observed top activity was: checking account balances and posted transactions including paying bills via mobile, and even nonbanking financial services: paying credit card bills (more than 50%), as shown below:

What's curious is an other report issued by comScore stating that SMS banking has lost ground in favour of mobile banking. Obviously we're experiencing a brige for services migration from offline to online commerce and ultimately onto mobile commerce.

Moreover, a majority of savvy smartphone users declared they would be tempted by a slightly practical "transformation" of their mobile devices into “mobile wallets,”, allowing users to swipe mobile phones like credit or debit cards and would store data such as loyalty cards and coupons. The report also mentioned that another 1/4 were still unsure about the idea.

What's your view? A multi-functional mobile device is already a reality (broadband, photo camera, radio, organizer etc - all at your service) - but how about a mobile behaving itself as a credit card, so that you can safely swipe it through?
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

White House announces: "Barack Obama’s Twitterer" - wanted!

President Barack Obama is looking for an official Twitterer - was yesterday's nation-wide call across the US, announced by Wall Street Journal for the new job post at the White House.

According to the Democratic National Committee - the job description for a “social networks manager” position requires the person to maintain the President’s accounts on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

The selected candidate will be working closely with the rest of the new media department to execute grassroots campaigns to advance the President’s agenda for change. Curious mentioning: among the qualifications sought: "ready to work hard" and "this isn’t a 9-5 sort of job."

It's globally known that Obama’s team used the Internet, email marketing and social-media tools throughout his candidacy. His Election campaign was named as Best Digital Campaign so far (AMA). More over He now has more than 3 million followers on Twitter and nearly 7.5 million Facebook fans.

However, he admitted that he doesn’t use Twitter personally, being "too clumsy to type onto his phone", as he confessed during his trip to China in November.

Wall Street Journal posted an interesting question, I'd be curious to find myself the answer on: How many layers of management are required to approve every "Obama's" posts on Facebook or Twitter feeds?

Obviously, social media isn't a cheap marketing activity - it definitely requires a solid infrastructure behind.

Digital Lunch Team
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Vietnam takes a political stand against Online Social Networks

The following article is a guest post by freelance writer Tam Pay Lynn from Vietnam.

Vietnam relationships with Chenese government have a long historical base, especially in terms of territorial and commercial issues. What has cought my attention recently was an obvious link between a major minig deal with Chinese corporations and a suspicious disappearance of Vietnamese websites and blogs related to the governmental relationsgips between Vietnam and China.

According to Technewsworld : two pioneering Web sites that stretched the limits of free expression in Vietnam say they have been hacked and shut down, just months after the communist government blocked the social networking site Facebook.

Additionaly, 16 online activists were imprisoned in just over three months. The government though, hasn't issued an official responce towards the questions addressed earlier this week by The Associated Press.

Also, after Vietnam began blocking Facebook in November, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nguyen Phuong Nga declared that Vietnam would take "appropriate action" against Web sites that it believes threaten national security. The government didn't refer to Facebook directly as an obvious threat and yet, two Internet service providers said they had been ordered to block the site. It's worth mentioning: (a blogging platform campaigning mainly against corruption) and (expressing their open opposition against the government's plans to open a giant bauxite mine in Vietnam, which may raise considerable environmental concerns).

Note. The site was closed in December. Before that, it had attracted over 17 million hits from readers concerned about the government's mining plans.

I'm now wondering if social media could become the only lifebelt to the global freedom of expression, especially in cases like ours.
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Thank you for your interest in being part of the Digital Lunch writing community.

Whether you are a Professional Marketer or an Enthusiast keeping track of Digital Marketing (say you're observing your country's curious case studies, statistics or trends or you've spotted a case of global interest) - we'd love to hear from you.

If you have any questions, topic suggestions or have a post already written that you would like to submit on Digital Lunch, contact us by sending an email at or contact us via Twitter at @Digilunch.

What Is Needed?

1. A short description of yourself: 2 to 3 sentences
2. Blog/Site, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter linkbacks to personal account
3. Your Avatar/Logo/Picture
4. Of course, the piece itself!

If you don’t have a blog, we’re still happy to work with you, but please provide at least 2 examples of original writing. We will get back to you with all due haste.

Thank you for your interest in being part of the Digital Lunch writing community.

Sergiu Birca,
Associate Editor,

Digital Lunch
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Breaking: Google Buzz - received an Unwelcomed Online Bzz..

Are you ready for an other Facebook or Twitter only this time from - Google? The Internet Search giant announced yesterday its new "Social" product aimed to let you share links, photos and videos with your friends and other contacts. Also, it automatically retrieves the recent online activity (from Picasa, Flickr, Twitter and Google Reader - no embedded Facebook ties!) and all that only among your Gmail contacts. Via, it's also available on Android and iPhone smartphones.

What was yesterday's reaction on the Web? Appearantly Facebook and Twitter users haven't been impressed much, since Buzz is mainly viewed as an add-on Gmail feature and just an other social network. So what was Google main competitors' reaction yesterday?

Microsoft: "Busy people don't want another social network, what they want is the convenience of aggregation," a Microsoft spokesperson told

Yahoo: "It’s been almost a year and a half since we first launched Yahoo! Updates – a social feature that lets people share their status, content and online activities and stay connected to what their friends and family are doing on Yahoo!" sais Yahoo! rep on Businessinsider Besides, Yahoo! has created Yahoo! Buzz - over a year now.

So is Google Buzz new? Does it offer any competitive advantages, except that it's integrated into Gmail (which many view as a drawback rather than benefit):

Dave Winer (a pioneer facilitator of RSS widget, cited by The Guardian):

"One of the big values of Gmail is its spam filter. Now all of a sudden it's as if the exhaust was reversed, and it was spraying dirt into my message stream, instead of filtering it out."

Beside spam mentionings an other issue refers to privacy concerns: Google Buzz can put the contacts you automatically follow, those you most frequently email or chat — on a public profile page
. Lifehacker shows you how to Stop Google Buzz From Showing the World Your Contacts: basically you should uncheck the box "Display the list of people I'm following and people following me" from your Privacy settings on your Google Profile.

Again, additional vigilance saves you from a potential headache. To me - there are too many social networks that just seem to "copy paste" each other multiplying so much, that it becomes truly difficult to spot their unique benefits (USPs).

What's your view? Will Google Buzz become just an other Social Network or it will be convincing enough to determine many to leave Facebook and Twitter in favour of the new e-journey?

Curious to hear,

Digital Lunch
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Facebook on Your Mobile? Think twice..

How Safe are Mobile Social Networks today? We are now are now able to access social networks through our mobile phones, not just computers. The trend is quite obvious, since mobile phones are turning into computers themselves. A recent report released by the European Network and Information Security Agency (Enisa) pointed at the the security dangers of using social network sites, especially Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

First - some statistics ( acc. to Enisa report - Feb, 2010):

- more than 65 million active users across Europe are currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices;

- according to Facebook Press Room, there are more than 180 mobile operators in 60 countries working to deploy and promote Facebook mobile products;

- 17 European countries featured Facebook playing a leading role in the social networking category. The only countries in which Facebook does not hold the No 1 or No 2 position are Germany (No 4), Portugal (No 3) and Russia (No 7).

OK, so what's wrong about social networks being so popular on our mobile screens since they already captured the online ones? The point is that similar risks and threats have been "trasmitted" on mobile phones, too. Among them, the report lists:

- Privacy issues coming from three different types of attackers:

third parties(by stealing and finding the lost mobile);
other users (by leaving your comments and tags on other community users)
platform providers, when they have full access to user data, so that the information becomes available in search results including third-party search engines.

Additionally, the associated risks are:

- mobile phone infection;
- reputation risk;
- data misuse;

Btw, see the spoofed e-mail suggesting you to update your account and change the password? Beware of what it may bring along, except for the tempting link you’re trying to open.

Basically, if you look at the figure below - it shows you what particular actions you employ when using your mobile may result in the distribution of malware:

All right, you may wonder - so what's the best way to protect, since I'm not quiting Facebook anyway?

The Enisa report lists 17 Golden Rules, pointing primarily at what you post and upload and especially who do you share it with. Also, as it's an opt-in function: privacy settings are worth visiting since it's us who decide what information should go public and what should stay behind.

Among the new rules Enisa advices mobile users to disable location-based services on your mobile unless you need them and always reading the privacy policies of social networking sites, to become fully informed and thus - armed and prepared, right?

Would be great to see your view on our new poll (right-hand side): Have you checked your Facebook/MySpace/Twitter privacy settings lately?

P.S. The link below contains a case on reputation risks associated when using Facebook as a "moaning channel" and forgetting that it's in fact - a "Broadcast channel", too.. :

"Teacher is suspended for jibe on Facebook about her class" (DailyMail)
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

..And the Nobel Peace Prize goes to - the Internet!

Actually not yet, as the winners have not been announced, but it doesn't eliminate the possibility since for the 1st time in history an inanimate object enters the Nominee List for the Nobel Peace Prize - The Internet itself ( as announced today by Forbes).

The Nobel Committee maintained its tradition to preserve the contenders' names secret for 50 years. Still some nominations were made public. According to Associated Press, nominees include the requisite European human rights group and a Chinese political activist. You may well wonder how come such a contraversial medium as the Internet became listed for Nobel Peace Price, when despite its whole package of benefits it comes with a number of backbones as: cyber crimes, privacy issues and many more?

Eventually it looks like these "side-effects" haven't stoped the Italian version of the Wired magazine to launch the "Internet proposal campaign" last year in order to support its nomination for Nobel Peace Prize 2010, entitled "Internet for Peace" .

The Wired main argument was that “the internet can be considered the first weapon of mass construction, which we can deploy to destroy hate and conflict and to propagate peace and democracy,” (citing Riccardo Luna, editor-in-chief of the Italian edition of Wired magazine). Additionally The Wired brought up Iran's latest election case to praise the spread of E-WOM ahead of any censor attempts, which makes "the internet become a weapon of global hope.”

As you see - Internet's major assets - Twitter and Web 2.0 tools alike were major arguments for the Internet's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, which by the way last year was awarded to President Obama.

What would be your reaction if the prize would indeed go to..the Internet?

Curious to hear,

All yours,
Digital Lunch
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Online Reputation : TOP 10 Tools to Enhance Your Online Visibility

How important is the online presence today? How many of us (in the entire world) spend our day-to-day time: online?

According to a Harris Interactive poll (December, 2009)the weekly internet usage in the US is now a whopping 13 hours, as twice as many when compared to 2005. Also:

* over 60 billion emails are sent daily around the world (ICT data);
* 77% of executive recruiters use search engines to research applicants (CareerBuilder)
* there're over 300 million Facebook users worldwide and over 50 million LinkedIn users, etc.

Today websites become virtual business cards for both corporate and personal branding. The truth is we all have an online reputation, whether we realize it or not.

The question is: do we choose to build it for us or let the search engines pick up the answers - randomly? The second choice won't do us any good, for sure.

Below are listed helpful tools for managing your online presence: be that your website or your blog:

1. Subscribe to Google Analytics - a comprehensive analysis over your website statistics, helping you to track the number of unique visitors, most popular articles, refering sources and many more..check it out for yourselves.

2. Join Technorati - the leading blog search engine indexing millions of blog posts in real time. It also tracks the authority, influence and popularity of blogs. Alternatively, start using Twittorati - to search and monitor the data on both blogosphere and Twittesphere.

3. Become a Guest Blogger/Expert Writer - Offer a blog posting for free to someone in your interest group and expose your relevant content to an entirely new audience!

4. Make your Subscription Options Obvious - via RSS fields and email newsletters. Alternatively, post sharing options/bookmarkings and help your readers share your content among their audience - an obvious Word-of-Mouth tool, don't you agree?

5. Post a freebie - free report, an eBook, a PowerPoint presentation using such tools as SlideShare. Make the files easy to access, posting them in PDF, for example.

6. Leave comments on other blogs (related to your own business area) - mentioning something relevant about your own blog and post a link. You'd be surprised to find out how effective these referrals may be to your blog/website traffic and authority!

7. Become an active presence in Social Media World - Take time to answer LinkedIn
discussions and questions. Submit blog posts to Digg,LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, SumbleUpon, Reddit, etc. Taking part in these activities will establish connections and build your reputation. Don't forget - Online Conversations build Online Relationships!

8. Join Virtual Groups like Yahoo!Groups or Google Groups connecting to people who share similar interests you do and may also be potential audience for your site.

9. Monitor Your Links to determine your most effective referral websites, using tools like WhoLinkstoMe and BackTweets.

10. Last but not least: Inform your Audience - post relevant and newsworthy content. Remeber, your readers might be influencers who can spot advertising and product placement and will not hesitate spread the word. Choose a positive outlook for your online presence be it a corporate or a personal perspective.

What other useful tools would you share?

Good Luck!

This issue Menu prepared by : Digital Lunch Team
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