Crowdfunding takes violinist to London

Posted in General on August 15th, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

Meet Marcus Toscano, London Royal Academy’s newest student, thanks to crowdfunding.

This virtuous Brazilian violinist was accepted by one of the most competitive music institutes in the world. Only two spots were available. I was told he beat candidates from 40 countries. Imagine how frustrating it would be if he couldn’t join the program. He didn’t have the money to afford a year of study abroad. That’s when crowdfunding solved this problem for him.

Toscano set up a campaign page at the Brazilian crowdfunding website Benfeitoria. Within three months, the campaign goal of $30,000 has been overcome with more than 400 donations. You can still help for another week.

From an American perspective, the value may seem easy to achieve, but it is a lot of money in Brazilian currency. I come from a middle class family in Brazil and I made sure I had a scholarship in order to fund both my tuition and expenses for my master’s degree in London. I guess I wouldn’t have gone if I had to pay it by myself. A student loan is not a reality in Brazil: interest rates are too high and banks don’t give high amounts to people who cannot prove that they can pay it back – like students.

After this background information, you will have to agree with me that Marcus Toscano made a remarkable achievement. Especially if you consider that crowdfunding is not as common of a concept as it is in the US. I am proud of Marcus Toscano and how he creatively managed to pursue his dreams. He will be the third Brazilian violinist to graduate on the Royal Academy.

Toscano’s challenge is not over though. He guaranteed the first year of study, but he will have to find a way to fund the second year. I hope the internet will help him once more.

Not familiar with crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a social networking tool to collect money for projects. You sign up for one of the many tools available, announce the details of your project, and individuals contribute with money. Rules vary from one tool to another, but in general you only receive the money if you reach a certain goal. If not, the money goes back to the donors.

Marcus Toscano persuaded donors by sharing his life story on his crowdfunding page, but a video with a comedian helped spread the word. You can watch the video below. No worries if you don’t speak Portuguese: subtitles are provided. : )

Fame and Decay on YouTube

Posted in General on April 21st, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

Finally someone smart enough to sing about their company on YouTube without embarrassing themselves.

It is a good-bye. It is about a Microsoft team. One could expect complaints and nasty jokes, but Karen X. Cheng delivers a touching, emotional parody of American Pie. She seems to have enjoyed the time spent with her Excel team members and builds a creative invitation to keep in touch with them. Apparently she is changing jobs to work for a new startup called Exec, created by the same guy from Justin TV.

YouTube stories do not always have a happy ending.

A guy put his work apron on over his underwear, then gets a guitar and starts singing about his job routine. Two months and 100,000 views later, he is fired. Surprise?

He wasn’t the first and won’t be the last to pay for using social media to point out not so glamorous aspects about his workplace. And Starbucks isn’t the first and won’t be the last company to misunderstand the creativity and humorous mind of its employees.

There is no freedom of speech when it comes to talking bad about your job, face it. It was always like that. The difference now is that your acid comment isn’t restricted to your circle of friends who might tell your boss. On the internet era, fame has its price. The Starbucks guy video has 1 million views by now (and a handful of copies). When he was fired and became famous, Christopher Cristwell  complained that he would have a hard time finding a job when all the interviewers can see him on YouTube and think that’s not the kind of attitude they want to encourage among the employees. Well, he should have thought about that before!

I just have to add that I do like the song. Both of them, actually. You just never know how your employer will take it.

What Social Media is NOT

Posted in General on April 5th, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

Last month I attended a great conference in Seattle. Promoted by @FreshConsulting and their @MikeWhitmore (thanks!), Social Media Day provided me with lots of interesting insights. We spent the day talking about what Social Media IS, but one of the speakers decided to talk about what Social Media is NOT. Heidi Miller is Chief Conversation Officer at Spoken Communications and here is the list of characteristics that we shouldn’t expect to find on Social Media.

Social Media is not impersonal
Social Media is not one way
Social Media is not about RTs and shares
Social Media is not a billboard
Social Media is not shouting to a crowd.

Doesn’t it make you want to start practicing what Social Media really is about? I remember vividly when Ms Miller advised: “Act like a human. Social Media is about long-term relationships”. I hope I have been making her proud.

Read – and listen to – @HeidiMiller here:

Are you on Pinterest yet?

Posted in General on February 15th, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

Pinterest has received attention due to its impressive numbers. The visual social network is reported to drive more referral traffic than Google Plus, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. According to Shareaholic, they were responsible for 3.6 % of referral traffic in January when they had just .17% back in July.

Companies are benefiting from the service. Luxury lifestyle search engine for women used Pinterest for brand exposure after business rebrand and expansion. The company started seeing click throughs from Pinterest almost immediately and reached 1 million pageviews per month after 3 months. They have low bounce rate, with peaks of 300 page views per session. Results demand effort: CEO Phyllis Cheung typically spends about 2-3 hours pinning per day and try to find around a hundred images to pin. “I don’t think that every business can benefit from Pinterest’s traffic. Pinterest is a very visual website – if your business is visual, I would definitely say to go for it”, she says.

The non-profit , Where’s the Funding for Lung Cancer?, uses Pinterest to develop a line of products by pinning attributes and interacting with others. They also promote cause awareness through the “Anyone Can Get Lung Cancer” board that shows how the disease affects people.

Yes, Pinterest promotes image, but what is the image of your company? What does your company stand for? What stories can your company tell?

Pinterest is about building a community, and not another channel to display products. A company should sell a lifestyle on Pinterest, not its inventory.

Plus: you can track trends and monitor your brand, searching for mentions and images of your brand or products. Which means you can monitor your competitors as well, right?

Will your company benefit from Pinterest? I have already convinced an institute I work with to start an account. It looks like it is worth a try.

New to Pinterest? Email me and I’ll send you an invitation. Plus watch this cool tutorial video:


Referrals are the best way to business growth

Posted in General on December 10th, 2011 by Melissa de Andrade

Business goal: to not have to advertise to gain customers, since advertising is the cost of being boring.

This statement was not said by me but by Rob Brooks who is the CMO of Pemco Insurance and president of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). Brooks was a guest speaker for my UW Social Media program. And one hour wasn’t enough for all the good insights he had to provide us.

The provocative statement that begins this blog post refers to the importance of a referral-based growth customer base. Much better than paying high amounts in customer acquisition advertising is having your loyal customers recommend your service to others. Customers are talking about brands anyway, whether business people want it or not. You’d better provide good reasons for your customers to say things about you.

Pemco invested a lot on that and now they see the results. 2010 was the first year that referral was as important as price for customer decision-making on choosing a Pemco insurance plan. They responded for about 30% of customers’choice. In 2001 these number were quite different. Price was the most important deciding factor (60%) while recommendations were very low (only 10%).

Brooks says that advocates have to not only love you, but also to defend you. That’s the level of customer loyalty Pemco is cultivating – and frankly, most businesses would kill to have such an engagement. And when you make a mistake, Brooks advises, there are two things to do. Say “Thank you” and then “I’m sorry”. “Thank you” for letting you know and “I’m sorry” for not knowing better, it was a wrong judgment and here is what is being done about the issue. Being nimble, authentic, humble and quick, Brooks teaches to face a disaster. Customers appreciate honesty and will respect you for that.

From the numbers Rob Brooks presented in class, online word of mouth can spread a lot more. Only 10% of the recommendations are online, he says. But in fact many online referrals trigger offline conversations, the other 90% of the amount.

What can make a customer go out of their way to provide a recommendation? A great product or service, a great experience, a customer reward, for example. Word of Mouth Marketing can be defined simply as any business action that earns a customer recommendation, as you can see in this interesting WOMMA video.

The five principles for the best Word of Mouth Marketing are as such:

  • CREDIBLE – honest and authentic marketing messaging
  • RESPECTABLE – transparent and trustworthy behavior
  • SOCIAL – listening, participating, responding and engaging brands
  • MEASURABLE – define, monitor, evaluate your success
  • REPEATABLE – the ability to do all that over and over again

The result? A talkable brand! That’s the dream of every brand. And social media can play a crucial role in that.

PM. I had a great guest writer posting on word-of-mouth here.

Your next concern: E-reputation

Posted in e-reputation, General on November 12th, 2011 by Melissa de Andrade

Let’s face it: your next employer WILL look for information about you on social networking sites. You’d better look good.

And you should look good not only on your LinkedIn profile, but also on Facebook and Twitter. A total of 91% hiring people want to know you beyond your professional application, via social media. And they will search information about you very early in the process: 47% of hirers screen prospective employers in social networking sites right after they receive an application. No wasting of time with a candidate with an attitude the company doesn’t support. You don’t seem good enough? You get rejected. 69% of hirers do so.

These are some amazing findings of a survey with 300 hiring professionals conducted by the online reputation company Reppler. Learn why recruiting people reject candidates:

  • They lied about qualifications
  • They posted inappropriate photos or comments
  • They posted negative comments about a previous employer
  • They demonstrated poor communication skills
  • They posted content about them using drugs or drinking
  • They made discriminatory comments.

You can also impress a recruiter with your social behavior, and 68% interviewees hired people because of that. Learn from the successful candidates’ moves:

  • They gave a positive impression of their personality and organizational fit
  • Their profile supported their professional qualifications
  • Their profile showed candidate was creative
  • They had good references posted by others
  • They showed solid communications skills
  • Their profile showed candidate was well-rounded.

It seems it is more important than ever to manage your online reputation – and maintain it. According to research by digital marketing consultancy KBSD, 8% of companies have already fired someone for abusing social media. Check some of their insights on what you can do to boost your employability:

  • Set your own reputation: Establish a strong and positive online presence
  • Stay on top of things: Google your name and check social media sites to catch what is being said about you
  • Ensure there is more good than bad: Post you own information on a regular basis
  • Secure your info: Don’t reveal personal information
  • Educate your family and friends: Monitor postings and tags; ask other to remove unflattering mentions of you.

It seems like a lot to do, but you are the ultimate beneficiary of all the work. Just a good looking resume won’t  give you a job interview.

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Good news for the news world

Posted in General on October 20th, 2011 by Melissa de Andrade

I discovered the Facebook app, Washington Post social reader, through one of my friends on Facebook, which is the best way to learn about it from a marketing perspective. I saw this message saying that a colleague read something about Steve Jobs’s legacy. The title was catchy, I clicked on it, and I found out that I had to download the app so that I could read the article. So I did.

Being a journalist, my first reaction was to think how clever it was for a newspaper company to use friend recommendation to reach new users. It will be nice if it leads more people to read the news straight from a big news company without even leaving Facebook. That was my second thought.

My third thought was not that positive for the app people: I am not sure if I want my friends to know about every single article that I read. And this made me not come back to the app.

Not until 10 days later that is, when I saw a post in Simply Zesty announcing that the app got 1 million readers in only three weeks. My wow reaction made me come back to the app as well as watch the video interview with Don Grahan, chairman of the Washington Post company, that was published on the post. One million subscriptions is a great accomplishment, even if many of those numerous readers don’t keep using the app.

Don Grahan is right in betting that a news story becomes much more interesting if you know that a friend of yours already saw it. It is implicit that he/she liked it, and that’s what you might assume when you saw a curious news title read by a smart friend. But that’s an assumption that I am not so sure of. I read a lot of things, but I would recommend just a few of them. How can I be certified that my friend would want me to read that text as well?

A “I recommend” button would be more accurate, but who wants more buttons to click on? With this WP app, you just have to give access to your likes and to your profile, and you don’t have to worry about anything else. Making it easy expands the chances of success.

We’ll have to give it time to see if this experience will impact the news world and if similar initiatives will follow. Questioned about what this mean for the future of the newspaper, Mr. Grahan asnwers (on 7’28): “We don’t know! But to me social reader is a very interesting experiment. It’s fun, it’s interesting. If it does [become big], it will be wonderful and we’ll sell ads against it. In any case, we are going to learn.” I like his attitude!

Although I still feel uncomfortable with letting people know about every article I read, he convinced me to give this app a try.

Post Number One

Posted in General on October 1st, 2011 by Melissa de Andrade

There are many reasons to blog but the best one is to start a conversation.

My passion for social media and how technology impacts and transforms the way we communicate to the world is so great. I can no longer restrict my impressions to personal notes and chats with people I already know.

I don’t have all the answers regarding the social media world but I definitely have a lot of questions. And I’d like to share my thoughts and doubts while discovering possible paths to take. As the new gal in the Seattle area, it’s good to know that the internet provides me the feeling that I am not alone.

Social media travelers, be my guests and enjoy the ride.

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