Monthly Archives: April 2014

Is the cruise industry outgrowing itself?

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Cruise ships have made several major headlines in recent years, and sad to say that few of those headlines, if any, were positive. That being said, the cruise industry is still booming, raking in about $29 billion annually, with 21.7 million annual travelers who represent only 4% of the traveling public. With newer and bigger ships coming out every year, it draws the question of when will enough be enough? Sure it’s nifty that the latest Royal Caribbean super ship has a skydiving simulator and bumper cars on board, but at what point will the cruise liners push the line too far straight into another disaster? With the help of social media, all of the recent disasters on board cruise lines have been made very public, to terrifyingly detailed extents, and despite a drop in sales and empty cabins on almost every ship, there are over 36 newer and bigger ships planned for the next 4 years! That’s adding almost 70,000 beds to a market which is getting older and depleting fast, failing to rake in younger and newer passengers for their fun new ships. With the sales recovery time after each mishap getting longer and more financially painful, will anyone be able to escape without going bankrupt?

First things first, the pool for repeat cruisers is quickly depleting with age. Cruises are more stereotypically associated with senior citizens taking an “easy” vacation, with lots of scheduled activities, strict/tight schedules, and formal dinners. This image misses the interests of the young active people with disposable time and income who can also travel on the off season, not just during school vacations. This growing group of adults is between the ages of 25-37, they are busy professionals but seek adventure and relaxation to get away from the mundane. They prefer to travel during the off season, and will often go with one or more friends or a significant other, no kids. These hard working adults need a vacation as much as busy parents, but avoid cruises because everything with cruises is geared either towards families with kids or older people. And worst of all: you have to pay for the alcohol! If only word of mouth and social media would be a better way to reach that tech-savvy group of young adults, and to inform them that they have the cruise industry misconstrued into a boring mundane experience when really it isn’t. Unfortunately however, otherwise great marketing tools such as Twitter and Facebook have been part of the cause for that age group avoiding cruises, but for an entirely different reason.

Carnival Cruise Lines has had it rough these past few years, facing PR disaster after PR disaster. And social media hasn’t exactly helped to keep these events manageable, often times making the situation look even worse than it is thanks to bleak firsthand accounts. It used to take time before news stories broke, especially when it happened in the middle of the ocean, and updates were scarce. But now with everyone and their grandmother carrying a personal recording device at all times, the world can quickly and easily be informed of anything happening onboard in the greatest of real-time details. Cue the infamous Carnival Triumph “poop cruise” disaster of 2013. 4,500 people were stranded in the middle of the ocean for five days after a fire in the engine room left the ship without power, A/C, and a working septic system. Thanks to social media, combined with tortured and disgruntled passengers with nothing to do, everyone in the world got a firsthand account of life on board the “poop cruise”, as CNN cleverly dubbed it. This was not an outbreak, or a sickness, simply a plumbing issue that left thousands of people with a bad taste in their mouth, pun intended. Passengers were taking pictures of their buckets, their sad faces wrapped up in their bathrobes, recounting in great detail the tragic life on board the ship, and everyone in the world was following and retweeting. This was by far the ugliest of disasters on board a cruise ship, beating out any norovirus outbreak that has plagued the cruise industry for decades. Accounts like this not only leave past passengers questioning the safety of the super ships, but also leave potential customers frightened of the what-ifs. With more bad news than good, every additional mishap pushes those potential customers farther and farther away.

To make matters worse, it seems that instances like these are not as rare as the executives would like to have you believe. According to the blog Cruise Junkie, between 2009 and 2013 there have been over 350 incidents involving mechanical problems or accidents in the industry, most of them just didn’t make headlines. Truth is viral outbreaks are fairly common on board cruise ships, the worst of which plagued 700 people on board Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas. Lesser common events include the tragic sinking of the Costa Concordia that happened back in January of 2012 when the Captain wanted to impress his female companion and brought the ship so close to shore that he crashed it less than 100 feet from land, killing 32 and injuring 64 of the 4,200 passengers and crew on board. With hundreds of sailings each year, and maybe only a few incidents here and there, the odds of ending up on an ill-fated cruise are slim. In fact, out of the seven norovirus outbreaks last year, a total of 1,238 passengers were affected, which represents only .006% of all cruise passengers for the year. But the headlines, combined with social media complaints by the people unlucky enough to be affected results in an over dramatized view on the “dangers” of cruising. Unfortunately, nobody is interested in reporting about all the successfully completed cruises.

So the question remains if the cruise industry will survive if it fails to draw in the younger generations. At this point, the best methods will be to address all the bad press head-on, and explain the statistical realities behind these instances in real terms. By avoiding the issue, the fear of getting sick on cruise ships keeps growing out of proportion. What the cruise lines need to do instead is educate the public and not only address but also fix the issues by implementing new health procedures to mitigate spread of infections. The cruise industry is already making very low margins as they try to fill empty rooms by cutting down prices. With every subsequent misfortune onboard a ship, the passengers are going to be harder and harder to convince to return, which will inevitably keep the prices low for the near future. This poses a problem for all the newer high tech ships being built which will only be able to survive if they can charge premiums over the older ships, and still reach capacity.

All in all, with a shrinking public, why build so many new ships? The cruise industry seems to follow an “if we build it, they will come” mantra, but they need to hold off on building until they can attract the future generations of cruisers to fill those ships. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time until they start going bankrupt one by one. 

The NYPD needs to put on the social media riot gear and get this crowd in control.

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For years, police forces have struggled with deflecting and diffusing the overly sensationalistic media stories surrounding police brutality, or officer misconduct. Now, they’ve provided anybody with a mobile phone a voice to share unpopular police issues (past and present) from around the World.

When the NYPD attracted unwanted attention back in 2012, stemming from an officer’s questionable use of Twitter, the department imposed strict sanctions and limited police force tweeting to a single, official account. Their plan was to control the flow of social messaging to the public until they had a well-devised strategy that not only informed the public, but also helped to evangelize the “brand” of the NYPD, the world’s most famous police force.

The new NYPD Commish, William Bratton, is jumping back into social media with guns blazing. The plan to connect the police force with its citizens in an informal manner via social media is a good. However, the implementation is worthy of a SWAT team take down. Having anonymous users tag unfiltered photos #myNYPD to the official NYPD Instagram account is equivalent of opening up all of the cell doors on Riker’s. The account was immediately flooded with thousands of posts, calling attention to almost every unpopular police measure from the last few years, ranging from “stop and frisk” to Occupy Wall Street.

The force would be wise to reconsider its channel of choice and pick a means that affords them more control. Perhaps a blog would be a better spot for NYPD SM HQ, and afford them a means to filter submitted images. Often people complain about social media restrictions and filters, however I have feeling if the NYPD wanted to slap the cuffs on some of the incoming messaging, the public would more than understand.

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Source: New York Times, Despite Twitter Backlash, New York Police Dept. Plans to Expand Social Media Efforts. 4.27.14

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From Street Dramatist to World’s Most Influential Personality’ 2014 – Arvind Kejriwal

From Street Dramatist to World’s Most Influential Personality’ 2014 – Arvind Kejriwal

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From Street Dramatist to World’s Most Influential Personality’ 2014 – Arvind Kejriwal

From Street Dramatist to World’s Most Influential Personality’ 2014 – Arvind Kejriwal

Dalton – Digital Marketing

Over the past year I have been in the process of launching a healthy snacks company – 88 acres – alongside my much better half, Nicole. Even though we’re still a few months away from going to market, we’ve built a pretty solid social media presence, with fairly strong consumer engagement & a few awesome brand evangelists.

We created early buzz and pre-orders via Kickstarter; we’ve successfully leveraged Twitter and Facebook to build brand awareness; however have struggled to properly use sites such as Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest that represent more visual media as well as a more female centric customer base…two attributes that tie nicely to our brand.

One thing that has completely stuck out throughout this class, is that for us to compete effectively against big / established brands in our space, we need to stand out. We don’t have the marketing budget of our competition, so we are not going to outspend our way to brand recognition. Nor do we have the traditional or social media presence. However, if we can successfully implement a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that differentiates ourselves from the competition, while still capturing our core consumer segments, we will be drastically increasing the probability for success, with low cost barriers.

Even though we’ve been using some social platforms with success, we find that the most difficult aspect of digital marketing has simply been bandwidth. As a small company with basically 1.5 full time employees, executing a broad & unique digital marketing strategy has proved to be difficult, especially when also taking into account other responsibilities such as fundraising, building a manufacturing facility, finalizing packaging, etc…

Moving forward, we will be using platforms such as Facebook Scheduler, TweetDeck, and Hootsuite to manage posts on multiple platforms forward looking. Technology like Hootsuite will allow for us to focus on digital marketing management when we can, while still executing key action items for the overall business.

The technology for efficiency within digital marketing is there, as well as room for differentiation. The key now is execution.

 

 

Is it possible to catch a cold through social media

Social Media Logos

Social Media Logos

This is the question that many are asking themselves as they peruse through sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Tinder and the likes. Of course the answer is no but what if I were to tell you that you could be made more aware of potential contagious outbreaks in your local area. That’s right this social media phenomenon is not just for the Forbes top 15 or 20 companies, but in fact the federal government has plans to make you more aware by using alternative methods.

For example, “Whooping cough first sickened the Illinois high school cheerleaders, then it struck the football players, the cross-country team and the band.

As it spread within the Chicago suburb of McHenry County in late 2011, another outbreak took place — on social media. A small business called Sickweather LLC said it detected the online flare-up onTwitter Inc. (TWTR) and Facebook Inc. (FB) postings in early October that year. That’s about two weeks before local health officials issued a public statement.”  Bloomberg.com (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-11/disease-outbreak-warnings-via-social-media-sought-by-u-s-.html)

U.S. agencies alongside the U.S. government would like to expand their current uses of social media in helping track and alert individuals of outbreaks through social media. Could your town be next?

TV show and its second Screen

Article for second screen TV shows

Research on how effective it is : report1 & report2

Between 60-70% of people, when they’re watching TV, also have a second screen device, such as a laptop, an iPad, or a mobile device.” So the reasoning is that since most of people have second device on hand and people love to talk with friends about the show they just saw, why not put them online and let them interact with the show directly?

So most of the TV show producers choose twitter as the media to let people talk. The advantages of twitter includes that it is fast paced and most importantly, the producers and advertisers can get instant feedback from the discussion generated online.  The show such as america idols that is designed to generate heat discussion would be a great fit for this kind of idea.

However, the fact is that second screen idea is not that appealing to the audience in US. The report shows the following findings:

  • Only 42% of U.S. adults have actually tried to watch designated “second screen” content on their phones, and only 13% said synchronized second screen content made TV viewing more enjoyable, according to a survey from the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association Of Television Program Executives. 
  • More than 50% users access synchronous Second Screen content during commercials, stressing opportunity to provide content easily and quickly during commercial airtime.
  • More than 60% users accessing synchronized content agree it is fun to use, that it makes them feel more connected to the shows they are watching and offers valuable information. The data provides need to expand Second Screen initiatives across larger programming base.

So it seems that second screen lacks popular appeals and not so many TV shows are doing this, hence, customers are not used to do it too. I love the idea of watching TV shows and discussing your thought with people, but how many people will be there on the platform and how they can design a more user-friendly app or website to guide through the viewers to have great experiences is the KEY!