The Ever-Evolving Social Network

May 17, 2010

By Fiona Beitdashtoo, Business Manager @ NYCA

Over the past few weeks Facebook has made some major changes affecting its users’ experiences. We’re playing around with them here at the agency.


Users will now be asked if they “like” a page (brand, product, cause, public figure, etc.) rather than “become a fan” of a page. This decision to re-name the “fan” function contradicts the idea of building community. When Facebook users had the ability to “become a fan,” it gave them the sense of joining something special. Whether a cause, car brand, favorite restaurant, athlete, or idea, Facebook users were comfortable saying – “yeah I’m a fan.” Now, with the ability to merely “like” a page, the idea of being a part of a niche community has become diluted.

Still, don’t underestimate the viral “fan” power that Facebook still has despite the change in semantics. In this changing Facebook environment, marketers should fuel conversation on the pages that they administer and around the social network by providing content that matters to the people. Cool content rules because:

  • when people comment on your content, Facebook alerts that person’s network that they interacted with your page by posting that activity on the homepage wall.
  • it gives you a good reason to continually touch advocates. Tip: Whenever you post cool content on your page, announce it via a status post!  By doing this you will alert that person who “likes” you, and their network of friends. If the content you are promoting is region-specific you can geo-target your status posts!
  • you can use this content to develop Facebook ads. Homepage sponsor ads, while they can be expensive, do provide marketers with power to share rich content such as video with people who may not know your page even existed. These ads are a great opportunity to give people who should “like” your page a taste of the great content they can experience if they opt-in.


Facebook is now giving users the opportunity to link their interests from their personal profiles to pages within Facebook. Facebook suggests which pages a person should link to. With thousands of pages on Facebook, the chances a person will be matched with an “official” page versus a page created by an Average Joe is to be determined. My guess is that Facebook serves the page suggestion based on what page is most popular (meaning has the most people who “like” it), or algorithms based on key words.

So now applying SEO strategies in the Facebook environment is essential. Marketers can do this by integrating their brand’s key words in content created for their page. Key areas for SEO key word integration are:

  • Company bio
  • Product description
  • Photo descriptions and Photo album names
  • “Notes” posts
  • Status posts

To increase the number of people who “like” your page, we recommended that companies engage in both paid and earned media opportunities. The paid media (Facebook ads) will drive traffic to your page, and the earned media (content you create for your page) will keep people there and hopefully inspire them to share your brand page’s content with their friends.

Let’s face it… Facebook is ever-evolving. It’s creating a dynamic environment for people to stay connected to people and brands. We’ll keep you posted with our POV on future developments.

I trust you with my life

January 20, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @NYCA

I read that 40% of the people who get a diagnosis from their physician will doubt the doc if their social network friends question it. Now, I like second opinions like I do another slice of cream pie but will this undermine the medical attention one gets? How about when people start taking advice from their Facebook buddies and start exercising more than the doc wants and have a heart attack?

And if this happens with someone who has gone to medical school, what happens when you are buying light bulbs from the hardware store and ask your peeps what they think of the sales associate in overalls’ opinion that 60 watts is the way to go?

People trust other people because those people are like them. Comfort is healthy when not numbing. This is a new shift; it used to be comforting to know that the person you were being advised by was different from you. Doctors would wear lab coats to show they were medically superior and perhaps cleaner. These days, fewer physicians wear those coats. Overalls once showed that the hardware salesguy was more serious about his handcrafting; that’s why he had all those places for his tools on his jumper. Now he is either in a costume or seen as a bad dresser. Uniforms in stores are rarely seen and if you took off the associate’s name badge you couldn’t tell the customer from the patient from the tool guy from the doctor. They’re just people talking to people. This puts pressure on the information over pomp — which is a good thing for all advice takers.

Still, expertise needs to be questioned in order to be trusted. I still check the fine print on the diplomas when waiting in the examining room for the doctor.

Building Brands through Social Networking:Part 1

August 20, 2009

By Kevin Breid, Business Management and Development Intern @NYCA

By now we have reached a point where the majority of internet users are at least aware of Twitter and Facebook.  Their endorsement and utility are expanding exponentially.  Facebook alone hosts 250 million users.  Nearly half of those users log on to the site at least once every day.  The same goes for Twitter, with estimates stating they have increased by near 20 million users since the beginning of the year.  In the past two months alone, an incredible number of internet users went from having only theoretical knowledge of Twitter to becoming regular tweeters.

social_circles_2Only a couple years ago, these social media sites did not even appear on anyone’s radar.  Now, Facebook, Twitter, and the form of communication they provide are becoming part of everyday life.  Facebooking, tweeting, and texting (which is essentially the basis for Twitter) are quickly approaching a status of necessity and functionality that rivals the cell phone and e-mail.

So how are brands getting into the networking game?  Interaction.  By participating in social media sites and interacting directly with consumers, we can find out what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, and what their needs are.  Beyond metrics and results, we can begin to engage consumers on an individual basis. In return, they have the opportunity to connect with us, speak their minds, and ultimately feel important and even influential. 

A small business, like a privately owned restaurant, can send a message to their regulars through Twitter if, for example, they have a new entrée on their menu.  A regular can then tweet back after dinner and offer their opinion and feedback.  Likewise, larger corporations can give a face to an otherwise seemingly impersonal monster.  Consistent, personal dialogue of this sort can give life to a brand and permit patrons to feel legitimately that you are investing as much in their interests and concerns as they are investing in your company with their loyalty. 

These methods of networking are still new and constantly progressing, but symbiotic brand-and-consumer relationships of this kind could do great things for companies who are willing to open up to their audience and communicate.

Social Media Revolution

August 17, 2009

By Gene Paek, Director of Interactive @NYCA

Social media is about communication.  Whether peer-to-peer or brand-to-fans.

The future of social media for marketers is being able to segment their fans and communicate to them with relevant topics and extend targeted offers.


August 4, 2009

By Gene Paek, Director of Interactive, NYCA.;

The year was 1999.  My neighbor was selling his home.  No realtor, no MLS listing.  Just a sign that read “For Sale By Owner.”  By the end of the day, he received five offers.  All over asking price.  The winning bid by a jogger that just happened to see the sign passing by.  Back then, home sellers sat back for buyers to find them.  In today’s real estate market, it’s the complete opposite.  Home sellers need to find buyers.

Same thing happening with brands and their websites.  Back in 1999, building a web site was pretty much the bullet point for their “Interactive Strategy” slide.  But in today’s digital space, brands need to understand the digital space means more than just a website and online advertising.  Today’s consumers are finding necessary product information in a variety of ways (search, retailer sites, blogs, apps and rich media formats).  

Don’t get me wrong.  Brand still need a web destination.  A home in the digital space.  However, brands also need to venture out and find consumers where they’re consuming their media.  I call this fish where the fish are fishing.

Social media sites are great fishing spots. I hear many brands talk about social media sites and their fear of “diving in” because they’re not sure if a particular social media site will be popular next year.  I always give the analogy of top network TV shows: who knows what next year will bring, but you will always find success placing media in a current hit TV show.  Seinfeld lasted for 9 seasons while The Brady Bunch only lasted 5 seasons.  However, both are considered iconic.  Note: I was under the impression that The Brady Bunch was still filming episodes.bradybunch
In today’s social space, Facebook and Twitter are iconic social platforms that brands can leverage.  But leveraging these platforms the right way is key. It’s not about a destination for your brand, as these platforms are about communications between your brand and its consumer.  Who knows for how long these sites will be mainstays, but what we know is that both destinations are growing.  And probably growing stronger than a particular brands own website.  

eRetail is another untapped fishing spot.  It’s equally as important to leverage eRetail strategies to educate consumers about your products and influence purchase for your brand.  For example, if a consumer is looking for a new food processor to buy (non-search), do you think they will visit or  Chances are Thus, the opportunity for a brand like Sunbeam to develop content specific for shoppers and feature that content on (as opposed to driving users to their site) will provide better results in the end.  Results meaning sales.

Brands simply cannot rely on just driving users to their own brand site to find success in the digital space.  Brands can no longer wait for consumers to visit them, instead, brands need to go out and find their consumers.  Just like the Greg, Peter, Bobby, Marcia, Jan and Cindy once sang, it’s “Time to Change.”

Gen Yers in the workplace: lots of work but worth it.

July 2, 2009

By Michael Mark, creative director/ceo @NYCA

Advertising is a young person’s biz they say. Our agency and our industry are teaming with Generation Yers – all born post 1980.  Warning, mass generalization about a generation: these 70 million working people are super smarties!

They have more general knowledge than any generation has ever had at their age.  But – and all you young NYCAers mind your manners with your elders now – these guys require lots of feedback and it better be in instant-web time – oh, and they like it positive. 

 Yes of course it’s my generation’s fault. Being helicopter parents, (my wife and I refer to our home as the heliport) we videoed our kids’ every drool string like they were pearls. It made them feel entitled. And then we overscheduled them:  the play date at 9, the tutor at 10, followed by soccer game at 11, lunch brought to them at 1, etc. and, guess what – they like it that way and don’t intend to have that behavior stop. With all those passions they have developed, they must now see work as one of them.  So just as they facebook at 10 a.m. in the office – they should be writing ideas at 10 p.m. wherever they are. They should be.

And so these talented staffers are an intense amount of work for their managers. They seem to miss self discipline that the latch-key kids before them had to learn on their own. It’s because they have gotten so much stimulation – constant interactivity is needed at high dosages. That means their manager’s energy has to be channeled so they can tap into it at all times – human wifi.

But I have found they’re worth the attention. An added helping of ‘you can do it!’ with very clear guidelines focuses them through all the distractions that their up-bringing and media present.  This bunch tends to be very open to making their goals. 

Here are some approaches, some even we have taken:

1. Time is tough to give – tough, give them your time. They need interaction and feedback so if you hire them you must work with them. Hallway reviews, ambushes really, are common, so be prepared for unscheduled ‘How’m I doing boss? What do I need to do to be promoted?’ And if it’s their year anniversary – they will be on your calendar 8 sharp. Also, here’s a benefit for their managers: interaction is a two way street – if you listen to them and stay open you will learn a great deal. In fact you can be more up to speed in your business in technology, communication methods just to name two. Hey you can extend your career – and with the economy you’ll need to! So pay them back with your attention.

2. The language of criticism is important. If you want them to do something beside roll their eyes and stuff their ears with their i-buds avoid comparisons to your past, “In my day we didn’t have lunch, we worked through the night and that includes Saturday.”  Be to the point and be as quantitative as you can be – they get this.  “I expect that work to be complete by 9 – not 9:30 and closing time is when the job is done. If that takes until 8pm, that’s what it takes. And by the job done it means you have completed these 12 tasks.”

3. ‘Making a difference’ is among the most popular phrase I hear from these people – a cause beyond profitability and growing the business will catch their attention and fire their desire to work because they are doing something besides work for the man. They are deeply connected to the world. Work is to support life, odd as it sounds, they don’t live to work.  At NYCA we have an outlet to “make a difference” inside the place that reaches outside to the community.  This cause grew from our NYCAers. 

4. Money matters. 49% of Gen Yers say retirement benefits are a very important factor in their job choices. A USA Today study showed that 70% of the Gen Y respondents contribute to their 401(k) plan.  They are living through a financial melt-down and they are wise to the ways of Wall Street. A job makes money and money invested well makes money. They get that. They demand that. When we started I was told we couldn’t afford the program we selected we did anyway and it has been attractive in hiring.

5. Your business is everyone’s business. These guys share financial information that Boomers consider private such as their salary. They share their feelings about the company freely. And when they share they share with hundreds and even thousands of friends through their networks. Your company ‘private laundry’ information is blowing out there in the wind of mass conversation. The good part of that is when they are saying good stuff the word travels fast and far. Their peers could soon be your next talented staffer.Clock_Nina 002

6. They want their lives in their work lives. That’s why our workplace is pet friendly. Though it’s difficult and sometimes expectations have to be reiterated – the more we embrace their lives, the more they will bring their work into them. We have found it a breath of freshness – aside from the pet odors.

Above all it’s the connection; it’s on us, old analogers, to put in the time. Different as we are, our mutual success depends on sharing common ground and pushing each other so all can grow.  It’s certainly keeping us young.

I just hope they remember to take care of me when I’m drooling.

Two pieces came out in just this morning that deal with this generation.

We took some time. Now it’s ours forever.

June 3, 2009

By Michael Mark, creative director/ceo @NYCA 

In the middle of this recession, in the middle of being too busy launching two global websites, in the middle of strategic planning for three full-out 2010 media campaigns, in the middle of applying all we learned from our research, and Tweeting, Facebooking, IMing and blogging, we stopped. And painted vases. 

We did what seems impossible these days – we took some time.  

Time is a gift often seen as a foe: we race the clock, we are up against a deadline, we push the meeting, we run behind.  And the way we try to compete is by splitting ourselves up into pieces, to do more tasks in the same second. 

How often have we said we need to clone ourselves?  And in the attempt we become fractured.  We say that media is fractured, but it’s not true. There are just more complete communication channels each going on simultaneously, multiplying by the instant it seems.  However there’s only one of us. And it is us — our attention, actually — being shattered into pieces. Tough to be centered and focused in such a state. 

That’s why yesterday some of us took time and danced in the middle of the corridor by the creative area.



In this week’s “New York” magazine article, In Defense of Distraction,  author Sam Anderson interviewed David Meyer, an expert on multitasking & cognition.

 In Defense of Distraction



Illustration by Glen Cummings/MTWTF  

He describes distraction “as a full-blown epidemic—a cognitive plague that has the potential to wipe out an entire generation of focused and productive thought.” Because of the way we use the ever-multiplying communication channels, he says, it is tough to get things done, adding “..even ten years ago…it was a lot calmer. There was a lot of opportunity for getting steady work done.”

True.  And we have proof.  In NYCA’s production area there’s an LED clockthat stares, red-eyed, at everyone passing, as it winds down from the moment the client approves the brief to when we have to have the work out there. Heartlessly, it heads to 0:0:0:0:0 from month to week to day to hour to minute to the final second. It started as a joke. It became a nervous-laugh producing – and, some say, an effective — monster. Every time we walked by, we were reminded we had to do three other things by this time.  Clock_Nina 004

And while it blinked away precious seconds, we painted away in Fargo – one of our conference rooms between the NY and CA rooms. We casually dipped into each other’s color wells, sharing brushes, and stories and time.  

 Here’s what we got out of the time we took: 

We got to create in a new way.

We got to catch up with ourselves and others.

We got to start again on projects with new energy (ok, perhaps fueled by anxiety of losing 40 minutes).

We got 40 minutes that we will always own.

We got something new to tweet, IM, blog, talk about.

We got vases that will sit on our desks and hold flowers that are given out twice a month as a thank you for being an NYCAer.


Oh, and Sandy in admin sent out an email later in the day telling everyone how to mark that vase painting time on our time management program. So all in the world is at peace — or at least accounted for. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Now go back to work.