Word of Mouth Internship at The Cyphers Agency

The Cyphers Agency has an opening for a paid internship during Summer and/or Fall terms. We are seeking a dynamic, creative, fun, and interesting candidate that would like to learn about word of mouth marketing.

We are looking for someone with a thorough understanding of:

– Internet Research

– Social Networking sites (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Myspace, Meetup, etc)

– Blogs

– Online Forums

– Viral Videos

– Flashmobs

– Digg, Flickr, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Wikipedia, Review Sites, etc.


– In college or a recent graduate

– Advertising, PR, or Marketing Majors are preferred.

– Able to work 20-40 hours per week

For consideration, please forward  resume and cover letter to andrew@thecyphersagency.com.

Young and Restless

Recently I have had conversations with my parents about how frustrating it is to watch them use the computer. Whereas I might scan a website for buttons or links, my mom actually spends the time to read all the words. What a geezer!

But now, there is some new research that says these old fogeys might not be the Luddites we once thought. Don’t worry though, I completely disagree.

Below are some sections from an article written by Chris O’Brien at The Mercury News, along with my response.

“When it comes to listening to music on iPods, blogging, downloading podcasts, joining Facebook, and using Twitter, the over-35 crowd is adopting everything from social media to consumer electronics at a faster rate than their Generation Y (ages 18 to 24) counterparts.”

Faster doesn’t mean better, and faster doesn’t mean that they are actually using these tools the right way. More on this later.

“These figures challenge some deeply held stereotypes about technology and age. Tech companies, often obsessed with designing for youth and hiring young, should take heed of this emerging powerhouse to think differently about their products, and where growth and opportunity may be found.”

I don’t place all older people in the same basket, and I don’t think tech companies do either. After all, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are some of the most revered icons of my generation. I also doubt that either would say that they based their successful companies obsessing about youth or hiring young.

“Baby boomers are embracing popular consumer technology applications nearly 20 times faster than the younger generation.”

This quote from an Accenture study is misleading. First of all, what the heck are “consumer technology applications?” I have a feeling this category could encompass such technology-laden products as toasters, microwaves, and pencil sharpeners. Hey, they have a digital readout, that’s technology right?

In all seriousness, right now boomers are definitely embracing new (to them) technology much faster than Gen Y. But that’s because they all waited to see if it was viable technology. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but don’t make it seem like the baby boomers are fast adopters of technology. They are playing catch up after sitting scared on the sidelines for years.

“Over the past year, the percentage of boomers listening to podcasts or reading blogs jumped 67 percent, to 26 percent. The percentage of Generation Y stayed flat at 45 percent.”

This is definitely a large increase in blog/podcast usage. However, these are some of the older and more vetted “new” technologies (blogs have been around since the 90’s), so it just means that the boomers were waiting to take the jump until it was adopted by everyone else.

“During the same period, the percentage of boomers watching or posting videos online climbed 35 percent, to 36 percent. The percentage of Generation Y doing the same dropped almost 2 percent to 67 percent.”

We’re still way ahead of you here. And why do you think boomers are watching so many videos? “Hey mom come check this out…”

I must admit that 36 percent of the baby boomer population is probably a lot more people than 67 percent of Generation Y. Older people have bad eyesight so hopefully they won’t see this!

“Finally, the percentage of boomers playing mobile video games climbed 52 percent to 13 percent. The percentage of Generation Y climbed just under 2 percent to 45 percent.”

It’s not hard to climb 52% when you only started at 7-8%.

“According to Inside Facebook, a Web site that reports on the social networking king, the fastest-growing segment of users over the past 60 days is people over 35 (that’s me!). While the biggest segment of members are still 18 to 25 (19.5 million), there are now 13.4 million members who are 35 to 54 — a figure that ballooned 276 percent over the past six months.”

I’d like to take this opportunity to emphatically point out that a rise in usage (albeit dramatic) does not speak to how this older audience is using Facebook. For example, my aunts and uncles that have joined Facebook use it either as a professional networking/communication tool (confusing it with LinkedIn) or join because someone invites them, and never really use it or keep their profile active.

Fastest growing means only that tons are signing up, not that they are actually using Facebook at all or the right way after that. Maybe next month there will be statistics about how old people are using it for longer times than us Generation Y folks. Is that because old people are doing more on facebook? I’d argue it just takes them longer to do things!

Okay, okay, right now you are probably thinking I need to lay off the energy drinks and that I should receive a spanking for being so contemptuous to my elders.

The fact is that I’m just scared, because O’Brien is right: baby boomers are adopting technology at a scary new pace. You can’t imagine how embarrassing it is every time an older person tells me about some newfangled program I haven’t even heard of. But although I agree with the fact that tech companies should keep the older demographic in mind, I’m just not sure that’s what they need to be worrying about. These are not, and will never be the early adopters of new technology. They are more in-line with the late majority technology adopters, which explains the recent surge of use. And please stop reminding me that older people are becoming more tech-savvy (it totally weirds me out). I was kinda hoping online would forever be the realm of the young and restless.

Defining Your Brand

Not too long ago, ‘defining your brand’ meant getting together with your marketing department or an advertising agency to decide what you wanted your brand to mean to consumers. Then you would kickoff a PR or advertising campaign, and voila, your brand is defined.

Nowadays, it’s not so easy. Whereas marketers used to tell the consumers what our brand stood for, we are far less trusted these days for several reasons:

1. Over-Stimulation – Consumers have been inundated with marketing messages their whole lives. Brands are vehemently fighting for a piece of our attention, and constantly intruding into our lives in new and different ways. There is so much information out there that people know they can find it if they want. So that’s exactly what happens – they only listen to what you have to say if they are looking for it in the first place. Stop shouting. Talk to people that want to listen.

2. Credibility – Do we really expect people to take our word for it? After all, we work FOR the company that we are advertising, for goodness sakes! They pay us money, so of course we make them sound as good as possible. Consumers are wise to this and instead look to trusted sources for information. These sources include friends, social networks, online and offline communities, mainstream media (less these days), user generated media, and tons of other groups that aren’t paid to tell them how awesome a product is.

3. Information – The sharing of information has become so simple and instantaneous in this new mediascape that consumers find almost anything they want to know. User reviews, companies pretending to be consumers, product information, expert opinions, and everything else surrounding a brand or product can be researched from one place – a computer. Use this to your advantage by knowing what types of information people seek (i.e. user reviews) and giving them the information they want (i.e. sneak peeks).

Alas, if consumers aren’t listening to us, what are we to do?!?

1. Talk to them the right way – Know that as the brand you may not be trusted, but people will listen if they think you have something worthwhile to say. Find things to tell your audience that they find interesting, informative, engaging, or special. Inside tips and exclusive information are important to the modern consumer, because it makes them more in-the-loop than their peers. After all, everyone wants to be e-famous.

2. Be honest – Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. You don’t need to tell everyone on the web about your dark secrets, but if you know you did something wrong, own up to it. What’s worse than not saying anything to your consumers? Lying to them.

3. Find your target audience – The web is excellent for finding target audiences. People connect online (and offline) based on shared interests. If your brand applies to any of these shared interests, there is a community out there that would love to talk to you.

In conclusion, the definition of a brand is no longer a monopoly held by marketers. Rather, it is an ongoing discussion moderated by the consumers themselves, in which the brand still plays a large part. Enter the discussion, and honestly tell people what you are about. Give them information, relate to them, and engage them. Hopefully, that’s what I’m doing with you now. Thoughts?

Whitepaper on Social Media and Word of Mouth

Here’s our take on Social Media and Word of Mouth, taken straight from our whitepaper. If you’d like to talk more about either subject and how you can use them for your brand, feel free to drop us a line.

Word of mouth (WOM) is nothing new. It has been around for centuries, millennia even. An act of WOM is simply the transmission of communication from one per-son to another. WOM even exists among insects that use chemicals called pheromones, as well as special movements and behaviors to communicate. The point is that WOM exists naturally without the work of marketers. Our job as WOM marketers is to harness the power of conversation by giving consumers something to talk about, and with the use of social media, provide them with the tools to spread your word.

We truly are living in a time of change. Social media signifies an enormous shift in the way people communicate with one another. This is especially valuable for brands as it provides yet another way for companies to reach current and potential consumers in a changing market. Where more traditional forms of advertising have become overcrowded and congested, early adopters of social media have been able to reach their audience to degrees which they previously could not have imagined.

So what is social media, you ask? Simply put, social media is any platform in which someone with an
Internet connection can communicate a message in a public forum. Take for example, blogs, forums, social networks, review sites, video and file sharing services, and virtual worlds, just to name a few.

Using social media tools to reach consumers will allow you to speak directly with them, and create a stronger relationship. This is the type of communication that can turn current and potential customers into life-long brand loyalists, ensuring that your brand is on the minds and in the vocabulary of your greatest asset, happy customers.

What’s most appealing to marketers is that the cost of running a WOM campaign is significantly less than any traditional media campaign but can reach the same amount of consumers, if not more, in new and exciting ways. Additionally, the ability to effectively measure the impact of such campaigns and make adjustments (if necessary to maximize its potential) makes WOM one of the most valuable resources available to marketers today.

How we do it…

Once we’ve identified the brand-specific strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, we can make recommendations and develop a strategy that will deliver the best possible results and make the most impact for your brand.

This is where you engage your community on social networks, social bookmarking sites and forums.
Here’s when you run your contest, send product to bloggers, push your content.

By keeping tabs on the accomplishments of your evangelists, observing the changes in web site traffic and conversions, and evaluating impressions, comments, volume of participation, etc., we’ll be able to quantify the value of our efforts.

Google Helps Protect Your Name Equity

Have you ever “Googled” someone and found their embarrassing photos or information? Have you ever “Googled” yourself and found your own embarassing web content? Well now Google is giving you a little help to redeem yourself.

Profiles in a Google Search

Now when you search for a name on Google, any Google Profiles that fit your search will show up at the bottom of the screen. Why is this helpful?

1. Redeem Yourself – If some of your less-than-savory content appears in a Google search, this is a way to show the world that you really are a responsible person. “See, mom!”

2. Lessen Confusion – If your name is Michael Bolton, you don’t have to spend the rest of your life overshadowed on the web.

3. Better SEO – If you don’t have a webpage, or are anonymous thus far on the web, this is a way to put your name out there.

Sounds great! Google has totally helped people clear their name, right? Well, kind of. Here’s what we are wondering about…

1. The “John Smith” Effect – What happens when everyone realizes they need to have a Google profile, and you are just one of a thousand John Smiths or Matt Robinsons?

John Smith Effect

2. Fab 4 – Only 4 profiles show up right now. Who gets the spots and who doesn’t?

3. Funky Names – Hyphenated names don’t seem to activate the Google Profile search. Stage names don’t work, so Prince seems to be out of luck as well.

Overall, we think this is a great tool. The benefits definitely outweigh the negatives. If you want to be found, we recommend you create a google profile. If you want to increase your SEO in tons of other ways, or just want more advice, just let us know!

Tracer helps you protect your website

These days, piracy is a hot topic both online and off. While music and software remain the most pirated, your website can be copied just as easily, if not easier. But with the many millions of websites and blogs in existence you couldn’t possibly keep tabs on all of them. Enter Tracer, a service that helps you track what’s being copied directly from your website.

How does it work? (from Tracer’s FAQ)
Tracer does a couple of interesting things: it tracks user engagement on your site by tracking copy and paste activity and automatically adds a link back to your content when it is pasted somewhere else.

By adding some simple javascript code, you’ll be on your way to protecting your content. It’s actually pretty easy to set up and use. To help you, Tracer gives you step-by-step directions for some of the most widely used blogging platforms including Blogger, Ning, TypePad, and WordPress.

Here’s a video that walks you through how Tracer works and what it can do for you:

Still think your target audience isn’t on Facebook?

Often times, business owners and brand managers tend to think that “Facebook is great, but our customers aren’t using it; Facebook is for teenagers.” That logic is simply not true. Recently, Facebook hit the 200 million user mark, making it the largest social networking platform in existence. By not using Facebook, you are missing out on opportunities to connect with your customers that do.

Facebook users aren’t broke, female, college students. Here are some stats on the Facebook user base that just might change your preconceptions:

  • 46 million users are older than 35
  • 18 million users are over 50 years old
  • 116 million have graduated college and beyond
  • 58 million users earn over $100,000
  • 110 million of them are female, 90 million are male
  • 100 million of them have children under the age of 17

Those are BIG numbers. I’m sure your life insurance company would like to connect with the 46 million users that are 35 or older. As well, I’m sure your retirement community may want first dibs on the 18 million users 50+ that are thinking of retirement. By not engaging consumers on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, you are passing on the opportunity to connect with consumers through the tools and services they use.

If you’d like to talk about how you can connect with your consumers using social media, feel free to give us a call, we’d love to chat.

Extreme Microblogging

Many people have written about how great Twitter is, and more so, how addicting and consuming it can become. We seem to have an addiction to all things tiny: tinyurl, twitter, 12seconds, and now… we’ve taken our microblogging fascination to the extreme. Enter Flutter, the microblogging platform with a maximum of 26 characters per update.

Manage Multiple Twitter Accounts with Splitweet

With more and more businesses realizing the power of Twitter, advertising, marketing, and PR professionals may be managing multiple accounts for their clients. However, it can become taxing keeping tabs on all of them. Although Splitweet has been around a while, it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Here’s how and why you should use it to manage multiple accounts.

It’s quite simple really, you just type what you want to tweet, then check the box by the account(s) you wish to send it from. The Dashboard shows you all incoming tweets for all the accounts you have added and you can toggle between replies, direct messages, and favorites; just like you’re used to.

Then there’s the “Brand mentions” tab. It’s just like using search.twitter to monitor for chatter about your company but you don’t have to open a new window. You can enter as many brands or “terms” as you’d like and then follow the conversation in real time.

And, if you are the website-hating app-praising product of current times, they’ve got a desktop application for you thats compatible with Mac, Linux, or Windows.


YouTube Flips its Lid and Reddit Diggs

April fool’s day is upon us and every year, some of the most visited social media sites like to play fun games to trick their viewers. Last year, YouTube pulled a bait-and-switch and propelled Rick Rolling to one of the largest memes to date. This year, the video giant has flipped everything upside down.

Here’s a list of other things going on around the web for today’s celebration of foolery (from webdistortion):

The Guardian says its swapping print for Twitter.

Youtube give us a new layout.

The Pirate Bay sells out to Warner.

Gmail on AutoPilot

Jason Calacanis invests in Smellr Flickr for your nose.

Opera Face Gestures

Google’s CADIE – Google Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity

Chrome in 3d.

Hotel’s Room’s on the Moon.

Miss World visits ‘beautiful’ Guantanamo Bay

Smashing Magazine’s Internet Explorer Update.

SitePoint’s Internet Reboot Day

Expedia offers flights to Mars.

Add some shine to your website.

Landmark JQuery plugin.

Reddit changes it’s layout.

Web Standards Project unveils the purpose of Conficker Worm.

Woopra Web Cam

Woot – 3 dollar item, 1 million shipping.

Top Gear to stream on the Web ad supported.

Web2.0 ireland’s 10 million euro funding

Facebook acquires Boards.ie

Wired claim they’ve got Twitter’s business plans

the end of Advertising at Marketing magazine.

ThinkGeek. Hilarious as always.

BBC Iplayer available on a Toaster.

Facebook in Trouble via E-Consultancy

Qualcomm opens the door on it’s top secret R&D.

Identi.ca acquires Twitter

Floating Amazon Cloud Environment

Digg’s algorithm cracked

Automatic mood detection from MSN

Get your Harry Potter E-books here

French Films banned from Lovefilm.

For more, check out Mashable’s April Fools list.