Starts a big fire Connect to influential bloggers with My Blog Spark

Posted by maggie.hunsucker April 30, 2009 at 11:25 am

picture-13You’ve heard the story, right? A blogger happens upon a great, but relatively unknown product and gives a glowing review.  Other blogs pick up on it and do the same, and overnight, the product becomes a viral sensation.

So how do you replicate this type of success with your product or brand?  Try using (or even creating your own) service like My Blog Spark.   My Blog Spark was developed by General Mills as a platform for connecting bloggers and brands.  In exchange for information about your products (and the occasional giveaway or coupon), the service matches you with a blogger of similar interest who will review or talk about your product.  No money exchanges hands, in fact, there are no promises that your product will be reviewed favorably – My Blog Spark just facilitates the connection.

If you’ve ever tried to launch a viral campaign, then you know that getting the attention of bloggers and influential consumers is half the battle.

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There is a lengthy sign-up process to become a participating blogger or brand, but the idea is to match your products with the right bloggers – those who talk about similar things and are read by your target demographic.  Categories include food and beverage, beauty, home, electronics, health and automotive, but My Blog Spark also looks at at blog’s traffic, their Technorati ranking, and just how social they really are.

Word travels fast online, but no one really knows what will spark the next big brand conversation .  You could venture out on your own, contacting individual blogs, leaving comments, hitting social networks, OR your could use a viral matchmaker like My Blog Spark to get people talking.

My Blog Spark requires bloggers to identify their connection to My Blog Spark and the brand they are highlighting when they review a product. They also let the blogger administer any promotions or product giveaways. This ensures that the product reviews and giveaways are transparent and big brands aren't manipulating the situation.

My Blog Spark, given its lineage, has partnerships with several big brands, including Cheerios, Macaroni Grill, Yoplait, and RainX. Check out this Fruit Roll-up Promotion featured on a participating My Blog Spark blog.

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  Batter up Put your brand assets to work in an iPhone app like MLB At Bat

Posted by maggie.hunsucker April 2, 2009 at 1:02 pm

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More and more applications are utilizing the iPhone’s video capabilities.  After all, you can watch YouTube and QuickTime videos directly from your phone with the same clarity and speed as your computer.

We’re impressed with the Major League Baseball’s MLB.com At Bat app.  It gives baseball fans all the scores, stats, and standings they need to stay on top of the game, but what’s really special about this application is the media integration.  At Bat offers live audio coverage of each regular and postseason game, as well as access to video clips from the MLB.com library.

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If you’re a company or brand sitting on a wealth of video content, take a cue from the MLB.  Media-rich applications are within most company’s reach, especially if you utilize the iPhone’s built-in YouTube capabilities.    Advertising, keynote speeches, market research – just about anything can be put up on YouTube and channeled through an iPhone app.   While you will need the development chops and the Apple SDK to create an application, you won’t have to waste time or energy embedding and streaming video content on your own. YouTube actually converts video content into an mp4 format for the iPhone user.

iPhone apps have become a marketing vehicle in their own right.  The real idea here is to look at the possibilities of the app platform and the tools that are already at your disposal, like rich-media integration.

Apple has announced that there will be new media player API's coming out with their 3.0 software release, i.e. more media options. To gain access to this information, you need to be part of the developer program.

We're eagerly awaiting an iPhone app with e-commerce capabilities. MLB At Bat would be a prime example. Imagine the sales potential if the app could link to a mobile store and let fans buy jerseys and sports memorabilia from their phone.

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  Double Feature Take advantage of video as a sales tool by using Fliqz

Posted by maggie.hunsucker January 20, 2009 at 8:47 am

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Why inundate your customers with long feature lists or a block of text when you can show your product in action instead?

You can take advantage of video as a powerful sales too with Fliqz. It provides scalable and branded video solutions for companies of all sizes and needs. Simply upload video content to their system, provide tags and descriptions, and Fliqz will generate a custom link and embed codes for your site – similar to a YouTube video, but with your company identity and the ability to manage the backend. Fliqz accepts all major video formats, including .mov, .avi, .flv, .mpeg, .wmv, and mp3, so if you have a mixed bag of video and audio materials, you can store and manage them all from the same place. This service also comes with built-in marketing tools and an analytics and reporting package.

Fliqz submits your video descriptions to the major search engines, helping visitors find you content more easily, and the member pass-along tool gets viewers to promote your brand for you.

The basic Fllqz package is free and gives you a standard player, 25 video uploads, and 500 streams/month. You will have ads intermixed with your video content, but that’s tradeoff for free hosting and storage. If you’re looking to create a true customer experience with no ads, the Silver package includes a branded player, webcam functionality, and 500 uploads/ 50,000 streams a month for $199. The big kahuna Platinum package is custom all the way – custom player design, multi-player/multi-site formats, and 5,000 uploads/250,000 streams for just under a grand a month (+ development costs). In other words, a white-label solution for people with large-capacity video needs.

Video is the most engaging content delivery mechanism available…and it just got a whole lot more affordable. Even if you don’t have video content on hand, there is a wealth of video material on the web that can provide a supporting sales push for your product.

You can customize various components of your movies by working directly with the Fliqz support department (or a friendly digital scientist), such as changing video player sizes, customizing permalinks, and rating displays.

Take advantage of Fliqz video advertising network. The service offers a variety of ad formats, from overlay to pre- and post-roll, and content-specific, and can easily be integrated with DoubleClick (DART), Adap.tv, Atlas, and many other ad servers.

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  Toast of the town Demo your product with online screencasting service ScreenToaster

Posted by maggie.hunsucker January 15, 2009 at 2:05 pm

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You may not know it by name, but chances are, you’ve seen a screencast. It gives your audience a birds-eye view of your computer screen as you walk through an application. We feature them regularly on feed growth!, and they are an excellent tool for demoing a product, creating an online tutorial, or just improving customer experience.

If we’ve piqued your interest, then you should check out ScreenToaster. This service is completely web-based (no software or downloads required), and gives you the ability to create and publish professional-looking screencasts for free. As a bonus, you can use ScreenToaster’s built-in community to help promote your video (and your product) online.

Recording with ScreenToaster is straight forward, but you will need to register with the service first. Clicking on the “Record” tab will prompt a new recording session window to pop-up. Specify your video settings like Full Desktop mode and whether or not you will be using audio or a webcam. When you are ready to go, push the record button or use the ALT+S shortcut to cue the recording from another browser window or your desktop (eliminates having to toggle screens). When you are finished, your screencast is automatically generated, and you now have the option of adding subtitles and/or uploading your masterpiece to YouTube or the ScreenToaster community. You can even save to disk in a .swf movie file or export as an avi file.

Check out the screencast we created on the fly (riveting stuff). We recommend fullscreen to see the details:

It’s no coincidence that the products and services we review on feed growth! frequently feature screencasts on their own sites – it’s the easiest way to illustrate benefits in a very real way. And it never hurts to add a little oomph to your product presentation.

ScreenToaster is compatible with most major platforms, including Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, and is optimized to run on Firefox 2, Internet Explorer 7, Chrome, Opera 9, and Safari browser. While you can't please everyone, ScreenToaster has the major bases covered.

Here's the skinny - most screen capture software is not free and usually requires a full application install. ScreenToaster doesn't have all the bells and whistles of its contemporaries (e.g. Screen Flow or Snapz Pro X ), but it should suit your needs nicely.

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  Talk of the town Video chat, call, or conference for free with TokBox

Posted by maggie.hunsucker December 17, 2008 at 8:31 am

Anyone with a new laptop has what’s needed to hold a video conference (and of course, sell!). They just might not know it.

Thanks to TokBox, a video chat platform, you can now hold video conference calls for free – and with no software or client download required. TokBox is completely web-based. Simply sign up for an account and TokBox will assign you a personal chat page. Give out the url to friends and colleagues, who can engage you in conversation or chat by clicking on the “push to talk button”. TokBox integrates will all the major chat services – AOL, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, & Google Talk – so you can communicate via video with your existing contact lists.

To activate the conference call functionality, click on the conference icon from your TokBox homepage, then choose the friends you wish to invite. Conferencing requires participants to have a TokBox account (again, the sign-up process for them is as painless as it was for you) or some other video-enabled chat service.

With TokBox, you can also send free video emails (one way to create a more engaging newsletter) or holiday greetings cards (might come in handy for you procrastinators), complete with holiday themes and costume overlays. And if you want to take your TokBox elsewhere, you can embed videos in your blog, website, or social networking profile, as simply as you would a YouTube video.

While any Joe can embed TokBox videos in their sites, developers can access the TokBox API to actually add the TokBox platform to your site or application, including video conferencing, video calls, and video mail.

Part of TokBox's allure is a simple and streamlined user interface and built-in social components. You can choose to make your videos public to the community or find friends among your fellow TokBoxers. There is also a FireFox browser add-on for Facebook, letting you voice and video chat with your Facebook friends for free, and the Twitter option lets you "tweet" your TokBox video url.

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