Darren Lister Metrics-driven, results-oriented, marketing innovator. Over 12 years experience creating and implementing marketing strategies, research and communications. Passionate about traditional and social media marketing. Demonstrated skills in bringing new products to market and making them profitable. Excellent analytical, problem-solving, multi-tasking and leadership skills enhanced by an MBA in Marketing. Online marketing content featured on Engadget (Technorati Top 100 Blogs), Autoblog (an AOL company), CBS, & TreeHugger (a Discovery Company).

Conversation Influenced by Experiences

In the world of social media, mistakes happen almost every day. I take the perspective that it is evolving too rapidly for anyone to know it all. This does not mean that their are not people that know more than others, it just means that we are all in this together perfecting our communication through the platforms.

When I first was asked to teach in BYU’s MBA program, I had to prepare a syllabus for my students. This was a daunting task as I knew that what I wanted to teach at the beginning of the semester would likely change by the time of finals.  Instead it became more of an outline of concepts, strategies and methodologies that would likely be a great starting point for my students future corporate communications.

The class became a conversation about social media’s potential along with some lessons I have learned along the way. I think too many corporations forget that at its very core, social media is much like my class, a conversation influenced by experiences.

Experienced social media strategists can become very adept at creating conversations. The challenge is predicting how people’s individual experiences will influence that conversation along with how loudly their voice will be heard when given the internet microphone.




Was that joke funny? Google thinks it was.

Google wants to quantify humor. Is this even possible? Google thinks that this is the funniest video on Youtube.


Sanketh Shetty, a Google Engineer, thinks it is as it explains how in his blog post as he explains it this way: “We focused on videos uploaded in the comedy category. We captured the uploader’s belief in the funniness of their video via features based on title, description and tags. Viewers’ reactions, in the form of comments, further validate a video’s comedic value,” he wrote.

This is where it gets interesting, as Google engineers tried to analyze what exactly makes a user comment indicative of a video being funny. “We noticed that viewers emphasize their reaction to funny videos in several ways: e.g. capitalization (LOL), elongation (loooooool), repetition (lolololol), exclamation (lolllll!!!!!), and combinations thereof. If a user uses an “loooooool” vs an “loool”, does it mean they were more amused,” asks Shetty.

Check out the Google SLAM leader board and comment if you think they are funny.


The Social Media Super Bowl!

This was supposed to be the most social media Super Bowl ever! So was it? Yes, there were #hashtags on tons of ads, Shazam being utilized by many major corporations, and people commenting on Facebook but did it all connect with customers? Were customers more likely to buy the products being advertised because of it? Coming from someone who has taught it, trained and advocated it for years now. I am not so sure.

One of the first things that I taught in my MBA course is that social media is not SPAM! It is about conversation. Too many companies are view social media as being a means to get their message out to as many people as possible. Toyota was a horrible offender of this during this year’s Super Bowl spamming anyone they could on Twitter. Nothing turns off the audience than being forced a marketing message and it was even worse that they did it from verified Twitter accounts which turned people off of Twitter as well.

Shazam has been popping up in more and more commercials. If you don’t know, it is that little blue “S” logo that seems randomly placed in the ad. This means that you can open an app on your smartphone and it will listen to the ad which then drives you to do something else. American Family insurance wanted to enter you into their contest when you used the app. Budweiser gave away a free LMFAO track if you used it during the Half Time Show. I tried it several times but found that unless I already had the app open and ready to go, a 30 second spot was simply too short to open it and have it listen effectively. By far it was much more effective than GoDaddy’s use of a QR Code. While most people can pause live TV with their DVR, I just don’t see myself or many others running up to my TV to scan the code (and I am one who scans QR codes daily).

Overall, I was very disappointed at the social media conversation. When I made the comment on Twitter that it felt very one-sided and not much actual conversation going on. @Marclstook responded:

I thought it summed it up perfectly. Everyone wanted to voice their opinion but not many wanted to listen. I really hope that this is not where social media is headed.




This site will not be posting anything today in support of the SOPA Blackout. Please stop this bill that will change the Internet.


Dilbert & Business


I just had to laugh at what Dilbert recently had to say about businesses in the comics.

…but then it got me to thinking, are all businesses built on liars? I have built my career working with many of the departments mentioned in his comic. Today the worlds of marketing, sales and PR overlap more than they every have through the platforms of social media which spreads their messages travel much faster than they every have. One “little” lie from any of these divisions will almost certainly be picked apart by someone “out there on the internet”.

I attended business school at BYU, a religious school that is noted for their emphasis on ethics. Does this reputation mean that that BYU excels in their teaching of ethics or that other schools simply fail in this respect? Or is today’s business world so corrupt that if graduates operate using basic principles of right and wrong stand out? I sincerely hope that the world has not become that place.


Advertising Apps…Will Consumers Care?

Every day consumers are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages from companies trying to sell their brand. Once upon a time it was simple print ads or TV commercials. Now they get hammered with product placements and spam to their email box. Over time consumers have found ways to adapt through TiVo’s and federal spam laws. As a consumer, I openly admit to practicing ever measure I can to limit this flood of unwanted data.

As a marketer, I understand that these approaches create top-of-mind awareness and sell product. As much as times are changing, brand recognition is still important and will remain an integral part of the marketing process. People buy the products they know.

Apple has launched iAds. A new marketing measure with a million dollar buy-in to place interactive ads in front of iPhone users (using iOS4). These ads place even more daily brand images in front of the consumer.

Nissan is one of the first to participate in this new form of advertising. They are using it to market their new Zero Emissions, 100% electric Nissan LEAF vehicle. The video below is an Apple ad, advertising the capabilities of the iAd platform while promoting the Nissan LEAF, essentially an ad selling ads.

Will it work? Only time will tell but I applaud Nissan and Apple for their willingness to explore bold new avenues. I will always appreciate innovation as I believe that marketing will always be about differentiation. In that flood of daily images, you must dare to stand out to succeed. What do you think?

***This post was created entirely on my iPad***


Does Social Media Really Matter?

Recently, I came across the latest version of the Social Media Revolution on YouTube.  It is full of statistics of why Social Media is not simply a fad that will simply fad away in the near future.  I have often said that Social Media is fundamentally changing traditional marketing.  Historically, companies told consumers what to think about their brand.  Social Media has transformed that relationship into a two-way communication where companies not only tell consumers what to think but consumers respond in real-time with what they really think.  It truly is changing the the way we communicate.


For Better or Worse…Social Media Works!!!

A few months ago I gave a presentation at Cal-State – Long Beach to a group of students on social media marketing. In my presentations, I always try to give real world examples of what companies are currently doing in the world of social media. Given that I am constantly attending social media events and trainings to stay on top of the latest development, it really bothers me to hear about an amazing use of social media with year old examples. It must be current to be relevant.

The week of my presentation, Nestle’s social media blunder hit the blogosphere so I used it as a teaching moment. If you are not familiar with their experience, they made a statement on their Facebook account stating that they intended to protect their intellectual property of their logo and intended to have altered versions of their logo removed from people’s profile pics on Facebook. As you can imagine this created a huge backlash within the online community. Within hours, people were lashing out all over the internet with all kinds of negative sentiments towards Nestle.

Then it went from bad to worse, Greenpeace seized the opportunity to attack Nestle’s use of palm oil and how its use affects the habitats of orangutans using this video (caution: it is quite gory) .  Today, Nestle bowed to Greenpeace’s demands and  announced a “zero deforestation” policy in partnership with The Forest Trust (TFT).  This partnership will initially focus on amending its palm oil purchasing practices.

Regardless of which side of this argument you side with.  It is hard to ignore the power of social media.  I have often said that it is fundamentally changing the marketing relationship into a two way communication.  Companies can no longer only tell consumers what to think about their brand, they must listen and listen well.


Apple’s iPad: The Ultimate Social Media Tool?

I am on a quest. I want to determine if anyone can develop the perfect tool for the social media ecosystem. As I have mentioned before, this ecosystem is evolving so rapidly that staying on top of it can be more difficult than finding a 4G iPhone in a bar. I want to know if Apple’s iPad can provide the hardware necessary to make it converge more smoothly than all the other devices I have tried.

With that in mind, I got in line and bought a 3G iPad. Tomorrow, I will begin attending the Social Media Success Summit 2010 so I thought this would be a perfect time to share some of my initial thoughts.

1) it is much more pleasant to type on that I expected. I believe I prefer typing on it in landscape mode over just about any netbook that I have tried. I have not yet clocked my speed but I would expect that with practice, I might be able to rival a physical keyboard.

2) iPad apps look amazing. IPhone apps on an iPad…not-so-much. The resolution and reaction inputs just seem to work better on the “Made for iPad” apps. I am anxious to see how all of my favorite iPod/iPhone apps evolve to the platform to use the increased real estate. I believe I actually prefer the iPad TweetDeck app to the one on my tablet PC. It is clear that they have designed it for the large touch interface of the iPad verses the other way around.

3) Battery life is great! I am getting the stated 9-10 hours. I don’t get that on any laptop or smartphone I own when stressed under heavy use.

4) Lack of Java and Flash is going to be a pain. I went to pre-test the links for the online presentations of the Summit and immediately got the “please install Java” message. I have hit the Flash one several times as well. Please Apple, work this out.

I’ll keep you posted and look forward to my posts on the latest in Social Media as I attend the Summit over the coming weeks.


Death, Taxes, and Marketing?

Isn’t Tax Day over?  Tonight, I attended a presentation on Mobile and Social Strategy at Intuit in San Diego and all the nightmares of the numbers came back.  It was good that the speaker, Dan Maurer, made excellent points to keep even the non-CPA’s in the audience awake.   His presentation focused on how they are adapting to the growing mobile segment, why social referrals are critically important to Intuit’s business model, and how they view their Live Community to be an extremely successful value-ad for their consumers.

Who really wants to sit at home doing their taxes?  Intuit recognizes that most people really don’t want to spend a lot of time on their taxes and if they can do it on the go, that is even better.  This has made Intuit’s iPhone apps some of the most popular finance apps through Apple’s App Store with fun features like taking a camera phone picture of your W2 which then inputs it into their software—wouldn’t that make for a fun first date demonstration of your net worth?  Moving back to the marketing application, mobile, time-saving applications can be a very effective way of reaching your target audience.

Dan surveyed the audience as to who uses their products and then joked that those in the audience who do not use the products should be recruited by those that do.  This made an excellent point, referrals are always a very effective part of the marketing mix but why do so many companies not formally integrate obtaining referrals into their marketing strategy?  Intuit states that 39% of its TurboTax consumers try the product because of a referral.  Don’t forget that referrals will always be important to your marketing.

When people find a product that they can believe in, they want to tell their friends about their discovery.  This is where social media must provide a platform for accomplishing this.  Intuit has done a very good job of doing this.  Its online Live Community is unique in that in the first 16 weeks of 2010 they had over 100,000 replies with a one retired CPA contributing over 48,000 responses.  Wow!  I would challenge anyone to find a more active online evangelist for any brand.

While we cannot get away from death and taxes, innovative marketing approaches can make at least one of those topics much more interesting.